- Manny Mashouf
Founder and Chairman, bebe Clothing Stores
San Francisco State University
Manny Mashouf’s life story is a particularly American archetype—that of the immigrant and self-made man who finds great success and, in gratitude, gives back generously to the society that has afforded him such opportunity. An entrepreneur and philanthropist, he is the founder and board chairman of the highly successful bebe chain of women’s clothing stores, now almost 300 across the nation.
Arriving in the U.S. from his native Iran with minimal English skills but with high aspirations, Mr. Mashouf rapidly mastered the language, then higher education. At San Francisco State University, from which he graduated in 1966, he explored many subjects beyond his political science major. In fact, the name of his corporation was inspired, he says, by Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet.
With success has come Mr. Mashouf’s conviction that he has an obligation to put his wealth to work for the greater good. While his generosity has been broad-based, his major cause of choice has been education: “I believe that the most effective way to improve the quality of our lives for the future is to improve the quality of our children’s education,” he says.
Mr. Mashouf has never forgotten his roots at San Francisco State University. He is an 11-year member of the College of Business Advisory Board and has made significant donations to the College to help it be competitive in recruiting and hiring outstanding faculty. Generations of faculty and students in the arts will experience his generosity when the Mashouf Creative Arts Center opens. In 2005, the university named him its Alumnus of the Year.
Manny Mashouf’s philanthropy, like his intellectual interests, is broad-based. He contributes to many causes in Los Angeles and was recently honored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles with its Individual Wish Granter award.
In recognition of his business acumen, generosity and commitment to giving back to his community, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Francisco State University are proud to confer on Manny Mashouf the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.