San Marcos,
09:20 AM

Honorary Doctorate Awarded to 'Little Rock Nine' Terrence Roberts

By Christine Vaughan

CSUSM presented an honorary doctoral degree to civil rights activist and CSU alumnus Dr. Terrence Roberts, one of the "Little Rock Nine," on Tuesday, April 22 at 6 p.m. Following the conferral of his degree, Dr. Roberts shared his "Lessons from Little Rock" to an audience of 1,000 students and community members, with a book signing immediately after. 

The Doctorate of Humane Letters was conferred by the California State University Board of Trustees and was presented to Dr. Roberts by Trustee Debra Farar.

Dr. Terrence Roberts: A Man of Character and Perseverance

Dr. Terrence Roberts is one of the famous "Little Rock Nine," a group of brave black students that led desegregation of public schools in the late 1950s. He and eight others were selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance. Terrence was 15 years old when he helped change history by being one of the first black students to attend classes in 1957 at the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Read more about Terrence Roberts' story...

“Terrence Roberts is quite clearly an example of the principles that we are teaching at Cal State San Marcos,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “He embodies our ideals of thinking beyond self and contributing to society in ways that make it more just and equitable. He has made sacrifices beyond what any of us can imagine and has held true to his values and maintained his integrity during great periods of adversity.”


Roberts is a California State University alumnus, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from CSU Los Angeles in 1967. He later went on to earn his master’s degree in social welfare from UCLA and obtain his doctorate in psychology from Southern Illinois University. For more than 30 years, Roberts has led a successful career as a university professor and practicing clinical psychologist. In 1999 President Bill Clinton awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Roberts and the members of the Little Rock Nine.

Honorary Degree: Doctorate of Humane Letters

Honorary degree recipients are selected by a campus committee of faculty and staff from recommendations made by CSUSM students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community. The committee then forwards nominations to the president for approval and then to the Chancellor of the California State University system. The CSU Board of Trustees makes the final determination and awards the degrees in the categories it considers most appropriate. Honorary degree recipients have demonstrated excellence in areas that benefit humanity, CSU campuses, the state, nation and/or world, and serve as examples to be recognized and honored for their good works.

All honorary degrees awarded by CSUSM are conferred by the Board of Trustees of the California State University in the name of CSUSM and the California State University.