Bleich, Marcus to be awarded honorary degrees

George M. Marcus and Jeffrey Bleich, two individuals who have contributed greatly to SF State and higher education in California, will receive honorary degrees at SF State's 110th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21. Marcus, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and SF State alum, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the California State University. Bleich, U.S. Ambassador to Australia and former CSU Trustee, will receive an honorary doctorate of laws.

A photo of Jeffrey Bleich

Jeffrey Bleich
A vocal advocate for public education and human rights, Bleich was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia on November 10, 2009. Prior to becoming Ambassador, Bleich served as a Special Counsel to the President at the White House. From 1995 to 2009 he served as a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he was recognized as one of the nation's top lawyers. An expert in international law, Bleich assisted the Special Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the former-Yugoslavia and has taught, lectured and written extensively on the International Criminal Court.

Bleich has also been an outspoken advocate of public higher education in California. He served as Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees from 2008-09, vice chair from 2006-08 and began his tenure on the board of trustees in 2004 before leaving for Washington D.C.

Bleich was a founding member and co-chair of President Barack Obama's national finance committee during the 2008 presidential campaign and also served as co-chair of Obama's higher education advisory board. He received a B.A. from Amherst College, a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

"Jeffrey Bleich has been a long-standing advocate for human rights and social justice," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "This commitment to others, and belief that all deserve equal opportunities in this life, was a guiding principle during his remarkable leadership of the CSU Board of Trustees. Today's students -- and those of tomorrow -- owe a debt of gratitude to Bleich's leadership."

A photo of George Marcus

George M. Marcus
An entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist, Marcus has been a long-time supporter of the arts and higher education in California and at SF State. Marcus is founder and chairman of Marcus and Millichap, a national commercial real estate brokerage, investment and development company with offices in 39 states; as chairman of Essex Property Trust, a New York Stock Exchange REIT; and founder of Greater Bay Bancorp, which was bought in 2007 by Wells Fargo.

Marcus has distinguished himself in philanthropy, donating generously to organizations in the Bay Area -- among them, the de Young Museum, health and human services non-profits, medical research centers, Greek community organizations and San Francisco State. Marcus has long been a supporter of California higher education, serving on the CSU Board of Trustees from 1981-89, and is a current member of the CSU Foundation's Board of Governors. He was appointed to the UC Board of Regents in 2000 and is serving a term that concludes in 2012.

An immigrant and native of Greece, Marcus came to San Francisco with his family in 1945 and sought opportunity at San Francisco State. A motivated and outstanding student, he earned his bachelor's degree in economics in 2 ½ years and four years later started the housing development, investment and brokerage firm that would become Marcus and Millichap.

Marcus has stayed involved with SF State throughout his life. He has served as a member and chair of the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, and supported the Center for Modern Greek Studies, the Cinema department, and student scholarship funds. Five years ago, he and his wife Judith, made a $3 million gift to establish the International Center for the Arts at SF State. Marcus was named SF State's Alumnus of the Year in 1989 and at SF State's Centennial Celebration in 1999, was honored as an "Alumnus of the Millennium."

"George Marcus has melded corporate excellence with a strong sense of public service, and in many ways this SF State alumnus embodies the fundamental promise of the California State University system," Corrigan said. "Both his professional career and generous philanthropy serve as a testament to the opportunities offered through public higher education."

CSU honorary degrees recognize individuals with meritorious and outstanding service to the 23-campus system, the campuses, the state of California, the United States or humanity at large. The recipients are also individuals whose lives and achievements should serve as examples for CSU's student body. The CSU and each campus bestow the degrees during commencement ceremonies.

-- Michael Bruntz