Honorary Degree Recipients
During the 2013 Commencement exercises at the University of Redlands, two notables received honorary degrees: Maestro Jon Robertson, music director and conductor of the Redlands Symphony, and the Honorable Gaddi H. Vasquez ’78, former director of the Peace Corps and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations.
Both were presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters on Saturday, April 20, with Robertson receiving his during the College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony, and Ambassador Vasquez during the School of Business ceremony. Ambassador Vasquez was also the School of Business’ commencement speaker.
Jon Robertson, music director and conductor of the Redlands Symphony
Robertson, a native of Jamaica, celebrated his 30th season with the Redlands Symphony in 2013. He earned his bachelor of music, master of science, and doctor of musical arts degrees from the Julliard School, where he studied piano performance under Beveridge Webster. From 1992 to 2004, Robertson served as chair of the music department at UCLA; while at UCLA, he created the music outreach program that targeted inner-city students.
Under his direction, the Redlands Symphony has received the highest ranking available from the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to his Redlands Symphony duties, Robertson is dean of the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Florida, and performs regularly with the Cole-Robertson Trio.
As a guest conductor, he has traveled around the world and appeared with many musical groups, including the San Francisco Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony, Beijing Central Philharmonic, and the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
Robertson has also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Loma Linda University. He recently was bestowed the lifetime achievement award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.
The Honorable Gaddi H. Vasquez, former director of the Peace Corps, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations
Ambassador Vasquez is a native of Carrizo Springs, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands in 1978, and worked as a police officer in Orange, Calif., before embarking on a 28-year career in public service at the city, county, state and federal levels of government. He is currently senior vice president of public affairs for the Southern California Edison Company, one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities.
From 2002 to 2006, Ambassador Vasquez served as director of the Peace Corps, and became the third longest serving director in the Peace Corps’ 50-year history. Under his leadership, the Peace Corps realized the highest enrollment of volunteers in the field in 30 years, and achieved increased congressional appropriations for three consecutive years. During his tenure, the Peace Corps established the Peace Corps Global AIDS Program, which has resulted in the development of new country programs with a focus on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He also led the opening of the first Peace Corps in Mexico and directed the entry or re-entry into 21 Peace Corps countries.
From 2006 to 2009, Ambassador Vasquez served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Rome, Italy. He was named a Champion Against World Hunger by the World Food Program, and led reform efforts at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization which resulted in the adoption of some of the most sweeping changes in the organization’s history.
Ambassador Vasquez has been recognized for leadership and service and is the recipient of the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund Globe and Anchor Award, Outstanding Alumni Award by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life, the William H. Booth Award by the Salvation Army, and Humanitarian of the Year Award by the National Conference for Community and Justice. He has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business Magazine.
He serves on the national advisory board of the Salvation Army and the boards of Project Concern International, the Board of Governors of the California State University Foundation and the Orangewood Foundation.
Ambassador Vasquez is the recipient of four honorary doctorate degrees and has completed executive coursework at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.