Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees

Robert A. Johnson
  • Robert A. Johnson
Robert A. Johnson

Philanthropist/Agricultural Manager

Sonoma State University

Robert A. Johnson is a strong supporter of sustainability through his extensive contributions to agriculture and land management. He and his wife, Sue, along with her sister Nancy and husband Kleve Johnson, were instrumental in the generous donation to Sonoma State University of the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve (GWP) in southern Mendocino County in 2004. The 3,600 acres are an extraordinarily diverse landscape that serves as an outstanding teaching and research site for faculty and students.

The Johnsons donated this acreage and more than $5 million in cash in the name of Fred B. Galbreath, the father of Sue and her sister Nancy, who had always intended to protect the land in perpetuity as a site for higher education. The preserve was donated to the university with a $1 million endowment to cover operating costs. Mr. Johnson also donated $757,000 as seed money for the development of a field station and observatory in the name of his wife and mother-in-law, and sponsored the purchase of three vehicles for transportation within the Preserve.

Mr. Johnson's legacy in agriculture spans several decades during which he made significant contributions to the industry. Born in the Salinas Valley in 1930, he developed a strong bond with the land on the family farm. As the Salinas Valley gained the reputation as the "Salad Bowl of the World," Mr. Johnson was involved in farming innovations that helped transform many acres of dry land into irrigated vegetable farms.

He has been very active in helping his farming community through years of service as the director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau (1968-1969), director of the California Farm Bureau (1976-1982), and chairman of the American Vegetable Farm Bureau. In 1978, the California Women for Agriculture honored him as Monterey County's Outstanding Agriculturist for his significant contributions.

Mr. Johnson's other philanthropic interests have included major donations to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He donated the developed rights of his farm to the Monterey County Land Trust; endowed a $250,000 scholarship in his mother's name at CSU Monterey Bay; and donated $100,000 toward the new CSUMB library in the name of his wife, Sue Johnson. The SSU Rowing Club also received a $50,000 donation.

In recognition of his exemplary philanthropic support of higher education and his significant contributions to California agriculture, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and Sonoma State University are proud to confer upon Robert A. Johnson the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.