Fresno State President Joseph Castro has named Ray Steele Jr., former publisher of The Bee, as this year’s winner of the President’s Medal of Distinction. It is the highest non-degree award presented by Fresno State.
The award recognizes “extraordinary achievement and outstanding service to the university and the community.” Castro made the announcement at his state of the university address on Tuesday.
Steele, a native of Fowler, graduated from Fresno State in 1968 with a degree in journalism.
He worked at The Associated Press’ Fresno bureau while attending classes, and joined The Fresno Bee as a reporter in 1967. He rose to metro editor before accepting a series of executive assignments for The Bee’s parent company, the McClatchy Company, which is headquartered in Sacramento.
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Steele was appointed publisher and president at The Fresno Bee in 2001 and retired in 2008.
“Ray is an extraordinary leader, serving as chair of our Foundation Board of Governors,” Castro said. “He has been instrumental in raising financial support for student projects and takes the time with his wife, Mary Lou, to personally make a difference in the lives of our students.”
Steele has served on the boards of the California State University, Fresno Foundation, Fresno Business Council, Fresno Metropolitan Museum and Economic Development Corp. of Fresno County. He was the Fresno State Alumni Association’s 2005 Top Dog Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Arts and Humanities. In 2015, Steele was awarded the Leon S. Peters Award for civic leadership.