Office of the President

Violet Palmer and Larry Gates to Receive Honorary Doctorates

March 21, 2022

Dear Cal Poly Pomona Community,

Each year, CSU campuses may submit nominations to the Board of Trustees for consideration of honorary doctorate degrees. This is an opportunity to recognize individuals who have not only achieved exceptional eminence in their careers but also demonstrated deep commitment to public service and the intellectual and humane values embodied by the CSU and Cal Poly Pomona. It is with great pleasure that I announce that we will confer honorary doctorates upon two of our illustrious alumni — Violet Palmer, a barrier-breaking former official in the NBA, and Larry Gates, an entrepreneur whose development firm has left its imprint across Southern California. They will be honored during Commencement in May.

While pursuing her degree in recreation administration, Ms. Palmer also played a leading role on the Bronco Women’s basketball teams that won back-to-back NCAA Division II championships in 1985 and 1986. After graduating in 1988, she went on to referee women’s high school and college basketball games. Violet officiated the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997 before going on to the NBA, officiating 930 regular season games, nine playoff games and the 2014 All-Star game.

She continues to share her passion for the sport, training officials for collegiate women’s basketball games in multiple leagues and visiting Cal Poly Pomona frequently to encourage players on the women’s team to dream big. She will be presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

As founder and president of the consulting, engineering and land-surveying firm DRC Engineering, Inc., Mr. Gates helped transform the former March Air Force Base in Riverside into distribution facilities for Amazon and UPS, the construction of shopping centers in Chino Hills, Tustin and Burbank and the redevelopment of projects across Southern California.

Mr. Gates cherishes his connection to Cal Poly Pomona and believes in giving back. He is the outgoing president of the Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation and is a long-time member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Leadership Board. He and his wife, Amy, have financially supported both university-wide and college-based programs and funded the endowment of three scholarships, one in honor of his late father, James Gates. Mr. Gates was inducted into the inaugural class of the university’s Engineering Hall of Fame in 2014. He will be presented with an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

I would like to congratulate Violet and Larry on receiving this honor and thank them for their many contributions to the university.

Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.