Regena Cole shown when she was receiving an honorary doctorate in fine arts from CSULB in 2015. Courtesy photo.

cole1Two of California State University, Long Beach’s (CSULB) long-time supporters, Bob and Regena Cole, were awarded honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees at the 2015 commencement ceremony, marking the first time since 2008 that honorary degrees have been granted in the name of the university.

Regena accepted her degree, as well as the degree granted to Bob posthumously, during a conferral ceremony at CSULB’s recent Alumni Awards banquet, according to the announcement.

“The incredible generosity of the Coles has transformed Cal State Long Beach and has benefitted so many students,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley in a statement. “I’m pleased that the CSU Trustees have chosen to bestow this honor on such wonderful supporters of our university and the community.”

According to the release, the Coles join nine others who have received an honorary degree in the name of CSULB. Their passion for music inspired them to give CSULB its largest gift ever, enabling the University to create scholarships and its renowned Bob Cole Conservatory. More than 160 students have become Cole Scholars.

The honorary degrees are given by the CSU Board of Trustees in the name of the California State University and in the name of the campus. The CSU awarded its first honorary degree to then-president John F. Kennedy in June 1963 at San Diego State University, while CSULB’s first honorary degree was conferred to actor, comedian and author Steve Martin in 1989.

Since the first degree, the 23 CSU campuses have awarded honorary degrees to 481 distinguished individuals, with another 22 scheduled for this spring, according to the announcement. The recipients have “demonstrated excellence in areas that benefit humanity, CSU campuses, the state, nation and/or world. They serve as examples to be recognized and honored for their good works.”

Photo courtesy of CSULB

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].