Roberta Achtenberg

Honorary Degrees


San Marcos

Roberta Achtenberg has more than 30 years of senior-level leadership experience in business, government and law, receiving both local and national recognition for her public service and civic work.

As a 16-year member of the California State University’s Board of Trustees, including two years as its chair, Dr. Achtenberg recognized the potential that existed for the CSU to help transform the American healthcare workforce. She reached out to California State University San Marcos President Karen Haynes in 2011 about launching a CSU-based palliative care institute at the university. Just 18 months later, it became a reality.

Dr. Achtenberg remains a member of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care’s National Advisory Board and continues to be a tireless advocate and supporter of the Institute’s work, which has expanded to seven CSU campuses.

Dr. Achtenberg’s tenure as chair of the CSU Board of Trustees included the development and adoption of the “Access to Excellence” strategic plan, which established a framework of priorities systemwide. Dr. Achtenberg’s illustrious career includes serving two presidential administrations. During the Clinton administration, she was appointed Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and later served as senior advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She was appointed commissioner of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by President Obama in 2011 after co-leading the HUD Agency Review Team for the Obama transition.

Trained as a lawyer, Dr. Achtenberg has served as a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School, dean of New College of California School of Law, staff attorney for the Lesbian Rights Projects of Equal Rights Advocates, Inc., and founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Dr. Achtenberg is also a former elected member of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors. She currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Directors of Bank of San Francisco.

In recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and her integral role in the founding of the CSU Institute for Palliative Care, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University San Marcos are proud to confer upon Roberta Achtenberg the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.​​