Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees

Bernard A. Osher
  • Bernard A. Osher
Bernard A. Osher

Philanthropist/Business Leader

California State University, East Bay

Bernard A. Osher has been an influential civic and business leader and philanthropist whose distinguished contributions have enriched the lives of individuals, families and communities throughout the nation.

Mr. Osher grew up in Maine and graduated from Bowdoin College with a bachelor's degree in science. Pursuing a career in business, Mr. Osher managed his family's plumbing and hardware store and later joined Oppenheimer & Company in New York. After moving to California he co-founded Oakland-based Golden West Financial Corporation in 1963. Golden West Financial, which operated branches as World Savings Bank, grew to become one the largest financial institutions and the second largest savings and loan company in the U.S. with assets of more than $126 billion. In 2006, the company merged with Wachovia Bank.

A collector of American paintings, Mr. Osher purchased the fine art auction house Butterfield & Butterfield in 1970, and oversaw its growth to become the fourth largest auction house in the world. He sold the business to eBay in 1999.

In addition to his outstanding achievement and contributions to the world of art, finance and banking, Mr. Osher has received national recognition for his philanthropy through his foundation, the Bernard A. Osher Foundation. It has been a valuable supporter of higher education, medicine, social services and the arts.

A strong advocate for education and particularly higher education, Mr. Osher and his wife, Barbro Osher, Consul General for Sweden in California, have made important contributions to more than 120 universities and colleges across the nation by advancing lifelong learning and removing barriers to student access and success. The Osher Foundation has contributed more than $100 million in gifts to colleges and universities outside California, and more than $150 million in gifts to member institutions of California's three higher education systems: the California State University, the University of California and the California Community Colleges. California State University, East Bay has received operating support and endowment contributions of approximately $3 million from the foundation and personal contributions by Mr. and Mrs. Osher for CSUEB's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Osher Re-entry Scholarship Program.

Often described as the "quiet philanthropist," Businessweek listed Mr. Osher as the 11th most generous philanthropist in the world in 2007, with close to a billion dollars given at that point in time. Few individuals in the world have had such a positive impact in support of student re-entry and lifelong learning.

In recognition of his support of higher education, and his civic and professional accomplishments as a community and business leader, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, East Bay are proud to confer upon Mr. Bernard A. Osher the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.