Tavis Smiley

Honorary Degrees

​​Tavis SmileyTavis Smiley

Broadcaster/founder, the Tavis Smiley Foundation

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Tavis Smiley has greatly contributed to the community and country, not only as a widely known broadcaster and political commentator, but also for his dedication and commitment to youth and social change.

The first African American to host his own talk show for National Public Radio, Mr. Smiley launched the PBS program, Tavis Smiley, and also hosts The State of the Black Union, C-SPAN’s series about issues affecting the African-American community. He began his lengthy and respected broadcasting career with a 60-second radio newscast called The Smiley Report and later served as an analyst for national news outlets and the widely syndicated black-oriented radio program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

An acclaimed author, he has written or edited several books on social and economic empowerment, including The Covenant with Black America, and a memoir titled What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America.

Mr. Smiley founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation in 1999, which works to enlighten, encourage and empower African-American youth through the development of leadership skills. His philanthropic work has resulted in the establishment of schools for communications and professional media studies at Texas Southern University, and ongoing scholarships to African-American high school and college students.

Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, as one of 10 children, Mr. Smiley attended Indiana University, where he was involved in student government and became an intern for the Mayor of Bloomington. After graduating from college, he moved to Los Angeles, working as an aide to the head of the City Council and for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and served as an administrative aide to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

In recognition of his work as a broadcaster and author to uphold the public trust and advance the common good of our global community, and for his philanthropic endeavors, the Board of Trustees of The California State University and California State University, Dominguez Hills are proud to confer upon Tavis Smiley the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.