Sallyanne Payton

Honorary Degrees

California State University Dominguez Hills

Sallyanne Payton has had a long and celebrated career as a policymaker and educator. She grew up in Los Angeles, and attended Stanford University at a time when very few African American students were enrolled. She served as editor of the Stanford Law Review and earned her law degree from Stanford Law School making university history by becoming Stanford Law School's first African American graduate. After several years in private practice in Washington, D.C., Ms. Payton was appointed as staff assistant to President Nixon on the White House Domestic Council. Her keen intellect earned Ms. Payton her next appointment as chief counsel for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. She held that position until 1976, when she transitioned to a career in higher education.

Ms. Payton was only the second woman hired to teach at the University of Michigan Law School when she was appointed as an associate professor. In 2003, she was awarded the title of William W. Cook Professor of Law. Ms. Payton retired in 2012 from the University of Michigan Law School as well as a professor of art and design in University of Michigan's Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.

Her work to improve government continued through a number of administrations. She served on the Clinton Health Care Reform Task Force in 1994. In 2010 she was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance. Subsequently, she held a senior fellowship with the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to improve the administration of government. She served in this role from October 2012 to August 2016.

Ms. Payton has been an active supporter of California State University, Dominguez Hills and the preservation and revival of Negro spirituals. In honor of her parents, Ms. Payton helped establish the Georgia and Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Music at CSU Dominguez Hills and the new Center for African Diaspora Sacred Music and Musicians in the university's College of Arts and Humanities.

In recognition of her significant achievements in government, the arts and education, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Dominguez Hills are proud to confer on Sallyanne Payton the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.