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Friday, May 8, 2009

Who's San Francisco State's 'Alumnus of the Year'? We'll Give You 1,000 Guesses. You Won't Get It.

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2009 at 5:30 AM

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If you've ever peered through the media guides for college sports teams, there are several sources of unintended joy: Mini-bios querying the players about their favorite foods or movies (Really? Scarface, again?); upbeat recaps of 2-9 seasons, or, best of all, the list of a school's "notable alumni."

Yes, the Kenny Gorelick who attended the University of Washington is Kenny G (they must be so proud). Both Gary Larson and Linus Pauling are Washington State alums. My own alma mater of U.C. Berkeley is thrilled to have actor Bill Bixby prominently placed in its guides (maybe you don't know who he is -- but you wouldn't like him when he's angry).

San Francisco State doesn't have a musician of Kenny G's stature (make of that statement what you will) to boast about on its alumni honor roll. Yet it does have Johnny Mathis. But can you guess who the Alumni of the Year is for 2009?

Last chance ... click the jump to see who it is.

It's Jeffrey Tambor!

Your question is likely, "Who's Jeffrey Tambor?" That's okay. The 65-year-old San Francisco native is best known for his roles in The Larry Sanders Show, Arrested Development, and countless movies and shows that were absolute shit (no fault of his).

Since Tambor is not exactly a household name, this prompts the question -- what does it take to be named alumnus of the year in the Bay Area?

Across the Bay at U.C. Berkeley, this year's honoree was Robert Haas, chairman of Levi's (and, it warrants mentioning, a fellow whose name is on Cal's business school and basketball stadium). At the University of San Francisco, the big winner is Thomas Malloy. We're not sure what Malloy did, but he did it well enough that you can now stroll through Malloy Hall at USF's School of Business and Management. Meanwhile, Carolyn Manning, the vice president of Stanford's alumni association, confirms that Leland Stanford Junior University does not honor any alumnae of the year. But they do have nice red tile roofs; we can all agree on that.

So, in short, it appears that it helps to fund buildings on campus if you want to be named alum of the year. No surprise there. There is not, to our knowledge, any Tambor Hall at SFSU. There isn't even an endowed professorship in his name. And it's a good bet folks are  not going to flood to the convocaiton ceremony to see Jeffrey Tambor. Well, good for SFSU and Tambor.

Instead of honoring someone who had showered money upon the school or is regarded as a "celebrity," they instead selected a talented person who is widely respected in his field. Nice message to impart to the school's undergraduates.

And, yes, Mathis was honored years ago.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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