Campus: CSU Fresno -- May 6, 2005

CSU to Confer Honorary Doctorates To Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson, Richard Johanson

The California State University and California State University, Fresno will confer honorary doctoral degrees - the CSU's highest commendation -- on Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson and Richard A. Johanson - during Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 21.

The honorees will receive the honorary doctorate degree in humane letters in recognition of their achievements, visionary leadership and civic commitment.

Nickerson served as president and CEO of Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno for 20 years until resigning last summer. Johanson, founder of Johanson Transportation Service in Fresno, is known for business success and his devotion to improving the lives of the people of Central California.

Fresno State President John D. Welty said the two have made an impact on Fresno and the entire Central California region. They also have partnered with Fresno State to improve its service to the Valley, he said.

As a nun, registered nurse, associate hospital administrator, president and CEO, Sister Ruth, as she is known, has devoted the past 35 years to serving and improving the lives of others. She currently is a member of the leadership team of Sisters of the Holy Cross based in Notre Dame, Ind.

Through her vision and leadership, Saint Agnes Medical Center grew from a community based hospital to a comprehensive regional medical center equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and leading medical technology.

Sister Ruth's advocacy for long-term sustainable change in the health status of Valley residents drove the creation of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute within the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State. First envisioned as a concept in 2000, by mid-2003, the institute became a reality with a $4 million, five-year partnership between The California Endowment and Fresno State. Through her vision, an important link has been forged between higher education and health care in the Central California region.

Johanson's work in the community has spanned K-12 and higher education, business organizations, service organizations, health care, cultural groups and museums. He has served on the governing board of numerous organizations, including the United Way, Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Fresno Business Council, Community Hospitals and Children's Hospital of Central California, Fresno Unified School District, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International and the Foundation of the State Center Community College District. He served as president of the Fresno Business Council.

He also has actively served in political campaigns and in bond efforts supporting education.

Johanson is a longtime supporter of both the academic and athletic interests of Fresno State. He serves on the university's Foundation Board of Governor's and the Craig School's Business Advisory Council.

This is the 13th year honorary doctorates have been awarded by the CSU system and Fresno State. A campus committee composed of faculty and administrators considered nominees for the honor and recommended the candidates to Welty, who then made the recommendations to the CSU Board of Trustees.

Last year an honorary doctorate was presented to Fresno State alumna Mary Carolyn Dobbs of Grass Valley, a teacher and pioneer in special education whose work has achieved international recognition.

Contact: Shirley Melikian Armbruster, (559) 278-5292 or (559) 593-1815

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