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CSUB to Honor Merle Haggard and Buck Owens During Friday Morning’s Commencement Ceremony

Photo of Merle Haggard and Buck OwensCSU Bakersfield invites the media to cover the recognition of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens during the School of Arts and Humanities Commencement on Friday, June 14 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the CSUB Amphitheatre. School officials announced in March that the highest university honors would be awarded to these Bakersfield legends.  Haggard will receive the tenth honorary doctorate awarded by CSUB, and the first Doctor of Fine Arts in History. Owens joins an elite list of honorees to receive the venerated President’s Medal. He is the first to be so awarded posthumously, and his son, “Buddy” Alan Owens will accept the medal on his behalf.

“We consider these honors as equivalent, although what will be bestowed is slightly different,” stated CSUB President Horace Mitchell. “Merle will receive an honorary doctorate. Buck would have received an honorary doctorate as well, except that the CSU system does not award the degree posthumously. Instead, Buck will be awarded the President’s Medal, which is an honor of the highest magnitude an individual CSU campus can bestow.”

Buck Owens was a Bakersfield and national treasure. Merle Haggard is an American icon and living legend. A child of the Depression and the Dust Bowl Migration, Owens overcame the extreme poverty of his sharecropper upbringing to reach iconic status in the world of music. Born and raised in Oildale in a converted railroad boxcar to parents who also migrated during the Dust Bowl. 

“The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country.” “These awards recognize Mr. Haggard’s and Mr. Owens’s preeminence in their fields and their roles as emissaries to the world in part through disseminating the Bakersfield Sound,” said Dr. Richard Collins, Dean, School of Arts and Humanities.

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