Richard Carpenter, half of the 1970s Grammy-award winning pop duo The Carpenters, and James H. Gray, trustee emeritus of the California State University system, were conferred honorary doctorate degrees in separate ceremonies of the 51st annual Commencement Exercises at California State University, Long Beach.
Carpenter received his honorary degree at the College of the Arts ceremony on Friday, May 26, at 9 a.m., and also delivered the college's keynote address. Gray received his honorary degree at the College of Business Administration ceremony on Wednesday, May 24, at 1 p.m. Both ceremonies were held on the campus' Central Quad area.
Carpenter, an alumnus of CSULB, gained worldwide fame in the 1970s as he and his sister Karen combined their talents on a long string of hits, including such classics as "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun." The Carpenters' worldwide sales top 100 million copies, and their many honors include three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a record in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The duo were also highly successful in concert and on television. They toured the world many times, breaking box-office records at the London Palladium in 1976. Though they recorded for just 13 years, Richard and Karen Carpenter made a deep and lasting impression. Compilations of their hits have become best-sellers in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Carpenter has been generous with his time and money. He was a founder and prime benefactor of the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center on the CSULB campus, where a new exhibit of the duo's memorabilia has recently been installed. He also founded the Carpenter Family Foundation to benefit a wide range of worthy charities.
Gray, who graduated from CSULB in 1958, is a Long Beach native who has demonstrated a strong commitment to education. In 1990, he was appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, a position he held until 1999. Before that in 1971, he was elected to a four-year term on the local Board of Education, which then combined the Long Beach Unified School District and Long Beach City College.
Although his early business experience was in automobile sales-he established Jim Gray Volvo in 1965-Gray has become most known for his leadership in the banking industry.
In 1974, he helped found Harbor Bank and two years later became its board chairman and CEO, a position he held until 1998 when the bank was sold to City National Bank. The following year, Gray founded Generations Trust Bank, where he again serves as chairman and CEO. The new enterprise already manages personal trust business worth more than $100 million.
Gray has been active in both professional and community organizations through the years, especially in Long Beach. He was the founding chairman of the board for the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, a harbor commissioner for the Port of Long Beach, and chairman of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce among others.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News