May 13, 2021

LAWT News Service


California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) will honor Los Angeles native Sallyanne Payton with the CSU Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her trailblazing career in law and government, and support of arts and education. Payton will be recognized Wednesday, May 26 during the university’s 2020-21 Commencement, which takes May 24-26 in the Tennis Stadium at Dignity Health Sports Park on the CSUDH campus.

Payton will also deliver a keynote address during one of seven commencement ceremonies to celebrate and confer the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. In compliance with public health guidelines, the in-person ceremonies will mark the first time the campus community comes together since at-home work and virtual classes began in March 2020. 

Born and raised in Los Angeles and a graduate of Dorsey High School, Payton earned her B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Stanford University in 1964 and 1968, respectively, becoming the first African American to graduate from Stanford School of Law.

Payton was appointed staff assistant to President Nixon in the White House Domestic Council, serving from 1971 to 1973, and then as chief counsel for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration in the Department of Transportation until 1976. During the Clinton presidency, she was appointed as an adviser for the Clinton Health Care Reform Task Force, which laid the groundwork for the Affordable Care Act years later.

In 1976, Payton became the second female faculty member at University of Michigan (UM) Law School.

In 2008, she was appointed the prestigious title of William W. Cook Professor of Law. Two years later, she was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance, and a Senior Fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States. Payton officially retired from UM in 2013.


Payton is one of the founders of CSUDH’s African Diaspora Sacred Music and Musicians program, and the Georgia and Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Music. Her lifetime goal is to preserve and revive Negro Spirituals, a type of religious folk song strongly associated with slaves of African descent in the American South.

CSUDH 2020-21 Commence­ment Speakers

Seven highly accomplished and professionally diverse keynote speakers will share their paths to success and words of encouragement with graduates. 

• Sallyanne Payton, (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2021). Keynote address: May 26 at 10 a.m. 

• Steven Bradford (B.A., Political Science, 1985), California State Senator, 35th District. Keynote address: May 25 at 3 p.m. 

• Dominique Braud (B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, 1997), co-producer of “The Simpsons,” and owner of Honeywater Entertain­ment. Keynote address: May 24 at 1:30 p.m. 

• Linda DeYampert (B.S., Business Administration, 1999), senior manager, Studio Environ­mental Health and Safety for the National Football League (NFL). Keynote address: May 24 at 9 a.m. 

• Gracie Ann Dinkins (B.A., Chemistry, 1987), a trauma and acute care surgeon. Keynote address: May 25 at 10 a.m. 

• Nicole Enearu, owner/operator of McDonald’s Restaurants. Keynote address: May 26 at 3 p.m. 

• Victor Rodriguez (B.S., Biology, 1992), clinical professor in the Division of Cardiac and Vascular Surgery and Director of the Aortic Center at the UC Davis Medical Center. Keynote address: May 24 at 6 p.m. 

Category: Education