Charles and Cathy Williamson

Honorary Degrees


Sonoma State University

Charles and Cathy Williamson are respected leaders in the North Bay communities. With a focus on transforming the lives of students, the Williamsons continue to engage teens and young adults as they pursue their educational and career pathways. 

The Williamsons’ passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields fuel their desire to find those “hidden jewels” and help students shine.  They have actively supported the Summer High School STEM Internship program and Math Engineering Science Achievement at Sonoma State University.   

The Williamsons met as undergraduate students at Wittenberg University. They both enrolled in graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin where he studied sedimentology while she studied nutrition. With hopes of becoming a geology professor, Mr. Williamson went to work as a researcher for the California-based oil company Unocal.

Over time, his interest in the oil industry grew far beyond the science of finding oil and gas. He became fascinated by the economics, politics and international cultures interwoven with the fuel industry. He took positions in England, the Netherlands, and Thailand – mastering diverse realms including operations, exploration, information technology and finance. His rise through the company culminated in his selection as CEO and chairman of Unocal in 2000.

Upon retirement, the Williamsons have become active philanthropists and supporters of teens and young adults. In particular, the Williamsons have given generously of their time and resources to Sonoma State University where their son, Ryan, graduated in 2013 with a degree in biology. As a result of the opportunities Ryan experienced with field studies at the university’s biological preserves, the Williamsons continue to support the School of Science and Technology with a focus on STEM students becoming educators. 

Mr. and Mrs.  Williamson also were honored by the Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma County for their dedication and work with Teen Services Sonoma. The award is presented annually to members of the community who guide, support and inspire the nonprofit to help Sonoma Valley teens and young adults acquire career-readiness skills and experiences that prepare them to succeed.

In recognition of the Williamsons’ outstanding leadership and continued support Sonoma State’s School of Science and Technology,  the Summer High School STEM Internship program and Math Engineering Science Achievement, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and Sonoma State University are proud to confer upon  Charles and  Cathy Williamson the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.