- Peter G. Mehas
Peter G. Mehas
California State University, Fresno
The son of Greek immigrants, Peter G. Mehas learned early on about the value of hard work and perseverance from his parents, who emphasized that "all dreams could be achieved through education." He was the first in his family to graduate from college and he became a mentor and friend to many first-generation students throughout a career devoted to education.
He valued the lessons learned from his parents as a youth: honest day's work, respect for others and, above all, integrity. He is remembered for his unwavering commitment to the students of Fresno County, his tireless advocacy for migrant children, expelled and incarcerated youth and special needs students.
Mr. Mehas graduated from Roosevelt High School in Fresno, attended Fresno City College and transferred to Fresno State. He was active in campus activities including student government and football, and was a member of the 1961 Mercy Bowl team. He earned a bachelor's degree and several teaching and administrative credentials from Fresno State; a master's degree from UCLA and his doctorate in education from the University of Southern California. Dr. Mehas often credited his teachers and coaches for inspiring his career, which began in Fresno and Clovis Unified School Districts.
In 1987, Governor Deukmejian appointed Dr. Mehas as Chief Education Advisor. In 1990, he was elected Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, was reelected three times and served through 2006. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the Commission on Education Excellence for Hispanic Americans. From 1992-93 he served on the State Board of Education. He was appointed to the California State University Board of Trustees in 2008. His final act of service for Fresno State was chairing the search committee for the university's eighth president in 2012-13.
A motivator and mentor, principled and uncompromising, in constant pursuit of helping young people realize and then exceed their potential—these attributes best personify the man behind the titles. He was a lover of history, a master of quotes and often could be heard uttering the words, "Carpe diem" (seize the day) to students, friends and colleagues. He loved recounting the wisdom of great philosophers.
In recognition of his achievements, his outstanding leadership and enormous contributions locally, regionally and nationally, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to posthumously confer upon Peter G. Mehas the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.