March 19, 2024

California State University, Stanislaus is proud to announce this year’s honorary doctorate recipients, which will be conferred during the University's Commencement ceremonies scheduled to take place in May. Stanislaus State and the California State University will honor Donna Pierce and Wanda Bonnell for their contributions by conferring them each with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Wanda Bonnell and Donna Pierce pose together in a photo.
Wanda Bonnell (left) & with Donna Pierce (right).

Pierce will be recognized during the ceremony for the College of Science on Wednesday, May 29, and Bonnell during the College of Education, Kinesiology and Social Work ceremony on Thursday, May 30. Both ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. and will take place in the University’s Amphitheater.

The Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters is the highest honor conferred by Stanislaus State and the CSU Board of Trustees. To be considered, honorees must have achieved excellence in areas that embody the CSU’s ideals and objectives, performed meritorious and outstanding service or their life’s achievements and serve as an example of the CSU’s aspirations.


About the Honorees

Donna Pierce

Donna Pierce has been a dedicated and integral member of the Stanislaus State community for more than 50 years. She arrived in Turlock in 1971 alongside her husband, Wayne Pierce, a professor of botany, and the two embarked on an incredible journey of service and commitment to the University. One of Donna Pierce’s significant contributions to Stanislaus State and the community was the realization of the Trans-California Pathway, fulfilling Wayne’s dream of an on-campus arboretum. Pierce dedicated herself to nurturing the project and securing donations. The dream became a reality, and in 2023, the arboretum was named the Wayne and Donna Pierce Trans-California Pathway.

Pierce’s support of the University extends beyond the pathway. Along with raising funds for scholarships, she has been an ardent enthusiast of Stanislaus State Athletics and briefly coached the University’s women’s softball team. She served as the clock keeper for basketball for more than 25 years and was inducted into the Warrior Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wanda Bonnell

Stanislaus State alumna and retired employee Wanda Bonnell created an enduring legacy at the University. A first-generation college graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1995 and master’s in education in school counseling in 2010, Bonnell’s service with the University spanned 24 years until she retired in 2017. During her tenure, she counseled students as an academic advisor in Stan State’s Educational Opportunity Program. Her most notable achievement was serving as the  founding director for Promise Scholars — a program that supports foster and emancipated youth in their pursuit of higher education — in 2006.

In addition to her contributions at Stanislaus State, Bonnell has been an active participant in community organizations in the Central Valley. She served as a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and president of the Modesto/Turlock chapter of the American Association of University Women.

Details regarding Stanislaus State’s 2024 Commencement ceremonies are available on the University’s Commencement website.