A key advisor in protecting the nation’s security, a legendary R&B and soul singer, and a Bay Area entrepreneur will be presented with honorary doctorates by California State University, East Bay in June.
Ellen Tauscher, special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense in the Obama Administration and former East Bay congresswoman, will be honored by Cal State East Bay during 2012 commencement ceremonies along with former Tower of Power lead vocalist Lenny Williams and longtime East Bay businessman and university alumnus Richard Sherratt.
Tauscher will be recognized on Sunday, June 17, during 9 a.m. ceremonies at the university’s Concord Campus, 4700 Ygnacio Valley Road. Williams will be honored during 10 a.m. ceremonies for the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences Saturday, June 16, while Sherratt will receive his honorary doctorate during 4 p.m. ceremonies that day. Both of the June 16 ceremonies will take place in Pioneer Stadium on CSUEB’s Hayward Campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Each recipient will have an opportunity to speak during the ceremonies at which they are honored.
“We are so pleased that these three distinguished individuals have accepted our invitation to join us at commencement ceremonies this June and be recognized by the Cal State East Bay community,” said Leroy M. Morishita, university president. “They each represent the finest qualities and talents in their respective fields and can serve as role models for the 2012 graduating class.”
Tauscher, who for 13 years served much of the East Bay in California’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the nation’s under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs from June of 2009 until her February appointment as special envoy. While in Congress, she represented the only district to have two national defense laboratories – Lawrence Livermore and Sandia California. The district also includes Camp Parks Army Reserve facility in Dublin and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. CSUEB’s Concord Campus is in the 10th district, which includes eastern Contra Costa County and El Cerrito in western Contra Costa County, parts of Solano and Sacramento counties, and the city of Livermore in Alameda County.
While in Congress, Tauscher chaired the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces (2007-2009) and was a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation. Before her election to Congress, she spent 14 years working on Wall Street and was one of the first women to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, later becoming an officer of the American Stock Exchange. Tauscher is a graduate of Seton Hall University.
In 2009 she donated her congressional papers to the archives of the University Library of Cal State East Bay.
“Ellen Tauscher’s papers are the first complete set of congressional documents received by the library and will be a centerpiece for our growing public history curriculum,” said Linda Dobb, CSUEB’s librarian and interim associate provost.
Leonard Charles “Lenny” Williams, a long-time resident of the East Bay and Oakland, since the 1970s has been a major influence in the growth and popularity of R&B (rhythm and blues), soul music and jazz, first as lead singer of Tower of Power. Tower of Power’s string of hits – including “So Very Hard to Go,” “Don’t Change Horses,” and Luvin You” – were written by Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson.
As a soloist, Williams had several hit recordings, including “Choosing You” in 1977 and “ ‘Cause I Love You” in 1978. He later recorded hit songs and albums into the 1980s.
After moving from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Oakland as a youngster, he learned to play the trumpet. His skills as a vocalist developed while singing in gospel choirs and groups around the Bay Area, where he worked with other notable singers such as Sly Stone, Andrae Crouch and Billy Preston. After winning a number of area talent contests, he signed his first recording contract with Fantasy Records.
Williams continues to perform as a solo artist for albums and concerts, touring the United States, Europe and South Africa. He has shared stages with Aretha Franklin, The Whispers, Rick James, Boney James, Bobby Womack, Ohio Players, Al Green, Usher, K-Ci and JoJo, Alicia Keyes, Anthony Hamilton and Frankie Beverly, and Maze.
Sherratt – a long-time Bay Area businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist – is a 1970 graduate of Cal State East Bay who was a star pitcher for the university’s baseball team. In 2002 he was inducted into the Cal State East Bay Athletic Hall of Fame.
Sherratt is founder and CEO of Ballena Technologies, an Alameda-based firm that makes modeling software that allows Internet users to see a graphical depiction of an arena, concert hall or any large venue. An entrepreneur for more than 30 years, he has founded 15 other companies.
Sherratt actively gives back to the community, having served for eight years on the Alameda City Council and working for the Alameda Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, he is chair of the Cal State East Bay Education Foundation, the main fund-raising arm of the university, and has been a driving force for an educational exchange between CSUEB and Fukuoka Institute of Technology in Japan.
With his wife, the Sherratts have made gifts and pledges for a substantial amount to start the Richard and Susan Sherratt Athletic Scholarship Endowment that since 2010 has provided financial support for CSUEB student-athletes. Each year, several student-athletes are formally acknowledged as recipients of the Sherratt scholarship.
“It is the type of gift that contributes to our future and continues to give each year,” said Debby De Angelis, Cal State East Bay athletic director.