April 09, 2004
CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456 or mstepanovich@csub.edu

Three prominent Bakersfield residents – an educator, a physician and a Realtor – have been honored as 2004 recipients of the California State University, Bakersfield President’s Medal.

Bill Hatcher, Dr. Robert Sheldon, and Bob Karpe were recently presented their medals at the annual President’s Associates Dinner at Seven Oaks Country Club.

Hatcher is retiring this year as superintendent of the Kern High School District. Sheldon is a retired ear, nose and throat specialist who practiced in Bakersfield for many years. Karpe’s company is synonymous with real estate in Kern County.

“It is a great honor for me to present these fine individuals with the President’s Medal for 2004,” said CSUB President Tomás Arciniega. “Their commitment to advancing the cause of education for the residents of our county, and their selfless devotion to improving the quality of life in Kern County epitomizes the spirit of the President’s Medal. I am delighted to honor these three men for their achievements.”


Bill Hatcher dedicated himself to the education of Kern County’s youth for 40 years. He left his native Indiana with his wife, Carol, in 1964 after graduating from Ball State University to take a position as a social-studies teacher at Shafter High School.

Since then he has had an enormous impact on generations of Kern Countians, not only as a teacher, but later as a high-school principal, and in his current position as superintendent of the Kern High School District, the largest grade 9-through-12 district in California.

Typical of Hatcher’s dedication, he also served as the wrestling coach at Shafter High from 1964 to ’67, and was the sports editor for the Shafter Press during that same time period. He also found time to earn a master’s degree in 1967 from Ball State. In 1969 he was named outstanding educator at Shafter High, and in 1979 was chosen as outstanding educator by the Shafter Kiwanis Club.

In 1978, Hatcher was chosen as special assistant to the Kern High School District Superintendent’s Task Force to develop a plan for desegregation and graduation requirements. In 1980, he was named Kern High School District project manager, and in 1982 he moved to East Bakersfield High School as assistant principal. In 1988 and ’89 he returned to the district office as project director for Project 2000 and as administrator for staff development, then returned to East High in 1989 as its new principal.

In 1993 he became the founding principal at Centennial High School, and served there until 1998 when he became the assistant superintendent for instruction for the Kern High School District. In 1999, he was chosen as district superintendent, and has lead the district during a period of explosive growth. He is retiring in June at the end of the academic year.

In 1996 he received the Kern County Music Educators award as administrator of the year, and while serving as principal at East High that school was named a California Distinguished School.

Hatcher’s dedication to education is shared by his family: his wife, Carol, retired last year as director of curriculum/instruction for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office, and his daughter, Lori Crawford, is a teacher in the Fruitvale School District.


Robert Sheldon has deep roots in Bakersfield. He attended Kern County High School and then continued on to Bakersfield College where he was a member of the Renegade football team.

He continued his studies at Stanford University, earning his bachelor’s and medical degrees there. He graduated from medical school in 1944 and remained at Stanford for his residency in otolaryngology – an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Sheldon is well known in Bakersfield for his medical practice and his service to others in the community. For many years he returned to BC to serve as the team physician for their athletic teams.

He is active in the Rotary Club of Bakersfield and served on the Ambassadorial Scholarship Committee, the Oktoberfest Celebration and other activities. His interest in education and young people are paramount.

A few years ago, Sheldon and his wife, Jean, decided to donate to CSUB their portion of the medical office building where Sheldon practiced for many years with Dr. Bob Marshall. With the proceeds first from rent on the building and then the eventual sale, the Dr. Robert and Jean Sheldon Scholarship Endowment was established. At the Sheldons’ request, this scholarship endowment provides awards to students who transfer to CSUB from Bakersfield College. More than 40 students have already benefited from these awards over the last five years.

The Sheldons’ interest goes beyond financial support, however. They meet with the students annually and get to know first hand the students’ challenges, their achievements and their concerns. At a recent luncheon meeting the students expressed their gratitude for the scholarship, but far more important recognized that Sheldon was genuinely interested in them and investing in their future.


Bob Karpe’s name has long been associated with Bakersfield. In business, in real estate and in athletics, he has excelled.

In the 1950’s Karpe was known for his athletic prowess, first playing on a championship team at Bakersfield High School and then at the University of California, Berkeley. At Cal he was active in campus life and earned All-American honors playing tackle on the Golden Bears football team.

He returned to Bakersfield to join his father, Elmer Karpe in the real estate business. He joined a giant in the business, for it was his father who was called upon by the federal government to appraise the land that was to become Edwards Air Force Base and also the land for the Lake Isabella Dam project.

Bob Karpe incorporated Elmer Karpe Real Estate in 1959, serving as its president. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed Karpe California real estate commissioner. When Reagan became president, he asked Karpe to come to Washington to be president of the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae).

Karpe is a founding member of the CSUB Foundation Board of Directors established in 1969, and has served on many committees during his tenure. In addition to his support of the CSUB athletics program, he has generously supported many scholarships and academic programs.