L. Robert Payne

Honorary Degrees

L. Robert PayneL. Robert Payne


San Diego State University

L. Robert Payne has a long history as a change agent in San Diego. His business acumen, civic engagement and visionary leadership in the hospitality industry is widely known and respected.

An alumnus of San Diego State College, Mr. Payne served as a pilot in the United States Air Force before returning to San Diego to become a management trainee with Jack in the Box. Eventually, he would rise to Vice President of Operations and earn a seat on the Board of Directors.

Next, he developed a chain of dinner house restaurants, built and operated one hotel, and purchased and remodeled one more. He was a founder and Chairman of the Board of Grossmont Bank. Today, he is the president and CEO of Multi-Ventures, Inc., a real estate investment and management company.

While building his career, Mr. Payne dedicated significant time to the San Diego community, serving on the boards of many organizations including: Sharp Health Care, Holiday Bowl, Super Bowl Task Force and the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Diego, Inc.

The recipient of numerous accolades, he was named Mr. San Diego in 2009 by the Downtown Rotary. He is an SDSU Distinguished Alumni and was named Alumnus of the Year in 1988. Mr. Payne has also been honored by the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, Junior Achievement, the YMCA, the Leukemia Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

Mr. Payne is a long-time volunteer leader at SDSU. He provided seed funding to create the Hospitality and Tourism Program (HTM), and was one of three alumni who contributed a lead gift to name the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. He also played key roles in the founding of the Entrepreneurial Management Center, The Campanile Foundation and the Director's Cabinet for Athletics. His deep involvement and support of the Hospitality and Tourism Program led to the program being renamed the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the first school in SDSU history to be named after an alumnus.

Mr. Payne's vision, leadership and example have changed the San Diego landscape. His commitment to SDSU is reflected in the faces of graduates, etched on buildings that bear his name, and most importantly, resonate in his advice to volunteer and give back.

In recognition of his many contributions to the university and the community, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Diego State University are proud to confer on L. Robert Payne the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.