SF Giants leader tells grads that "success is a team sport."

Giants President and CEO Larry Baer addressed University's largest ever graduating class


SAN FRANCISCO, May 25, 2013 -- At San Francisco State University's 112th Commencement today, keynote speaker Larry Baer, President and CEO of the San Francisco Giants, urged students to take a team approach to solving the world's most vexing problems. 

A photo of three graduating students during Commencement at SF State."Success is a team sport," Baer told the Class of 2013, recalling that it was the connection among players that helped the Giants win the World Series in 2010 and 2012.

Baer, who is nationally known for his visionary business and baseball acumen, shared lessons learned from his years leading San Francisco's baseball team. During his tenure with the Giants, Baer spearheaded the building of AT&T Park and played a key role in keeping the franchise from moving out of San Francisco.

"We need you to believe in audacious possibilities," said Baer, who also warned graduates not to be afraid of failure. "In baseball, the best batters fail two out of three times. You'll fail, too, because failure is not an aberration. It's the price of success. It is how you learn."

A photo of CSU Board of Trustees Chair A. Robert Linscheid, SF Giants President and CEO Larry Baer and SF State President Leslie E. Wong

From left: California State University Board of Trustees Chair A. Robert Linscheid, San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer and SF State President Leslie E. Wong.

More than 20,000 guests packed into Cox Stadium as President Leslie Wong presided over his first SF State Commencement exercises. The University celebrated the largest graduating class in its history and awarded diplomas to 8,738 graduates.

President Wong spoke directly to graduates who are the first in their families to go to college, congratulating them for beating the odds. He also urged all graduates to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the young people around them, serving as an example for them to follow.

Kathleen Downing represented the Class of 2013 as its student speaker. Downing, the hood recipient for the College of Business, is a hospitality and tourism management major and has been an exceptional leader on campus. As event chair for Taste of the Bay, the annual fundraiser for the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, she helped raise a record-breaking $145,000 for student scholarships. She is already putting her studies into practice in her full-time job as a food and beverage manager at an exclusive golf and country club.

A photo of student Commencement speaker Kathleen Downing

Student speaker Kathleen Downing.

Downing reminded her fellow students that learning is a life-long process, saying, "even if you never step foot inside a classroom again, there is so much more still to learn."

During the ceremony, President Wong awarded a President's Medal to Nancy Hayes, SF State's vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer and former dean of the College of Business. The medal honors Hayes' outstanding leadership and service to the University.

Wong commended Hayes for steering the University through challenging economic times and for being a trusted advisor and mentor to students. "Diligence and compassion have been your signature approach," he said.

A photo of CSU Trustee Roberta Achtenberg, honorary degree recipient Adele Corvin and CSU Board of Trustees Chair A. Robert Linscheid.

From left: California State University Trustee Roberta Achtenberg, honorary degree recipient Adele Corvin and CSU Board of Trustees Chair A. Robert Linscheid.

SF State and the California State University awarded an honorary degree to lifelong volunteer, community leader and philanthropist Adele Corvin, honoring her many years of service to the Bay Area. Corvin has served on the boards of more than 20 organizations and is currently president of the Morris Stulsaft Foundation, which supports Bay Area children with programs in early childhood education, the arts, pathways to work and services for foster care youth.

Also during the ceremony, three faculty members were honored for their accomplishments. Professor of Kinesiology David Anderson received the Professional Achievement Award for his research and scholarly publications. Professor and Chair of Philosophy Anita Silvers received the Excellence in Service Award, recognizing her four-decade-long career fighting for equal access for all to higher education and other institutions. For his teaching effectiveness and the introduction of innovative, new courses, Professor of Broadcast, Electronic Communication Arts Martin Gonzalez received the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award.


SF State is the only master's level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The university enrolls more than 30,000 students each year. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communications arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 219,000 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.

For more information about SF State's 2013 Commencement, visit www.sfsu.edu/commencement