- Jerry Sanders
San Diego State University
The Honorable Jerry Sanders has made public service his life's work. Since arriving in San Diego to study English at San Diego State University, Mr. Sanders has built an impressive legacy of service and leadership in this community.
He joined the San Diego Police Department during his senior year at SDSU, and served 26 years, the last six as Chief of Police. He then led the United Way and subsequently the American Red Cross in financial overhauls that increased fundraising and trimmed operating costs. Given this successful track record, the people of San Diego turned to Mr. Sanders in 2005 to steer their city out of financial crisis. As San Diego's first "strong mayor," Mr. Sanders took office with a resolve to right the city's fiscal ship and ensure the adoption of accountability measures to prevent future economic mismanagement. He launched a top-to-bottom review and streamlining of city operations, eliminating more than 1,500 positions and negotiating permanent changes to the pension system that will deliver savings to generations of San Diego taxpayers.
Mr. Sanders has been a strong leader and advocate for arts and culture, maintaining financial support for the arts and leading the charge for a "penny for the arts" initiative. His commitment to tourism and the business meeting industry resulted in an expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and the creation of a Tourism and Development Board.
Throughout two mayoral terms, Mr. Sanders worked collaboratively with SDSU to build bridges between the university and its neighbors. He has spread the word of SDSU's emergence as a leading public research university. He was generous with his time, presiding over events such as SDSU President Stephen Weber's farewell gala, and the dedication of the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center. When the 14th Dalai Lama visited SDSU in 2012, Mayor Sanders officially welcomed His Holiness before a sold-out Viejas Arena crowd.
Because of his many years of public service, Mr. Sanders is also an ideal role model for students in the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. Those majoring in Public Administration, City Planning, Criminal Justice, Visual and Performing Arts and Hospitality and Tourism Management will be greatly inspired by this exemplary leader.
In appreciation of his many contributions to San Diego and to SDSU, and as a tribute to his life of leadership, the California State University Board of Trustees and San Diego State University are proud to confer upon Jerry Sanders the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.