Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. and Yoshie Akiba, Bay Area business and civic leaders, will be honored at Cal State East Bay commencement ceremonies June 13-14.
California State University, East Bay, will award honorary doctoral degrees to two Bay Area business and civic leaders when CSUEB celebrates the graduation of thousands of students during its commencement ceremonies Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14.
Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., chair of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, will be recognized during the Friday afternoon post-graduate ceremony, while Yoshie Akiba, a community activist and owner of Yoshi’s jazz clubs and restaurants in San Francisco and Oakland, will be honored during the Saturday morning undergraduate ceremony.
Bechtel, a civil engineer who became the leader of one of the nation’s foremost engineering and construction firms, is widely recognized as having contributed to building America’s industrial base and improving the quality of life around the world. He did this, primarily, as the third-generation leader of Bechtel Corp. beginning in 1960). He has continued to contribute to society with his philanthropic leadership of S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation as well as his service as chairman (retired) and senior director of the Bechtel Group.
President George H.W. Bush awarded Bechtel the National Medal of Technology, the country’s highest honor for technical achievement, in 1991.
He has served three U.S. presidents – Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford – through appointments to various presidential committees and councils, in addition to being chairman emeritus and director of Fremont Group, LLC, a private investment company that specializes in direct investments, real estate and publicly-traded securities.
He received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1946 from Purdue University and his master’s in business administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1948.
“Mr. Bechtel has built a legacy as a business leader, engineer, civic leader, and philanthropist,” said Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita. “His leadership in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education as well as work in protecting the environment has ensured that California’s resources – its people and its places – will prosper for generations to come.”
Akiba, an innovative and successful entrepreneur in the restaurant and music industries, has helped create one of the world’s most respected jazz clubs while building Yoshi’s as one of the Bay Area’s premier locations for food and entertainment.
While attending UCB, Akiba opened her first Yoshi’s restaurant in Berkeley. By 1997 she and her colleagues expanded the business into an award-winning jazz club and had relocated it to Oakland’s Jack London Square. A decade later she opened Yoshi’s San Francisco in San Francisco. In addition to the two Yoshi’s locations, Akiba has been practicing Japanese tea ceremonies for more than 40 years and is a member of the Omotesenke Tea School and has a professorship in the Domonkai Tea School.
Orphaned during World War II in her native Japan, she came to the United States in 1963 to study fine arts, dance and music. After attending Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore for several years, she moved west and earned a degree in fine arts from UC Berkeley in 1974 and a master’s in dance therapy and performance studies from Mills College in 1978.
Akiba is a co-founder of 510akland, which provides Oakland public school students with access to programs, resources, supplies, instruction, mentoring and training in music and the arts.
“Ms. Akiba’s story is one that transcends the global reputation of her namesake jazz clubs. Her successes are built on hope and perseverance,” Morishita said. “We are pleased to honor Ms. Akiba for being an an exceptional person who has found ways to create bridges between cultures, business, arts and education.”