Aileen Meyer, Dan Phillips Awarded Honorary Doctorates

Aileen Meyer and Dan Phillips
Aileen Meyer and Dan Phillips
Cal Poly Humboldt is proud to award two Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters at this year’s Spring Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11. They are two of only 16 individuals in the University's history to receive the honor. 

Aileen Meyer, Vice Chairwoman of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria

Aileen Meyer is a longstanding and formative leader in Tribal Affairs of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, serving the tribe in multiple capacities over the course of her storied career. She has worked for years to foster and advance governance and structures, as well as document and disseminate cultural traditions. She has provided leadership in the building of a casino and tribal headquarters as well as led various housing projects to house tribal members in need.

Following the reestablishment of Tribal recognition of the Bear River Band and 17 other Tribes in the Tillie Hardwick Supreme Court Decision in 1983, she organized and acted as one of the authors of the Tribe’s inaugural constitution. She worked to enshrine the Tribe’s governance in 1985, acting as its first chairperson, and pursued significant federal grant funding and other resource allocations for essential initiatives, all the while navigating and combating existing structural barriers.

Today, Meyer serves as the Vice Chairwoman of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria. She has an impressive knowledge of constitutional law and Tribal history, which she has used to serve her Tribe. Meyer is a committed leader for the Tribal community and a strong example of service, resilience, and tireless dedication to bringing positive change to the Humboldt County area.

Meyer has made an extraordinary impact on thousands of lives in the community surrounding Cal Poly Humboldt. Her lifetime of selfless determination embodies the purpose of California State University to provide opportunities for all individuals to develop intellectually, personally, and professionally, while contributing to California’s economics, culture, and future. 

“It has always been my determination to be recognized as Natives of this land,” Meyer says.

“My daughter Elizabeth French was denied access to an Indian School for her high school education for not being a federally recognized Indian. I spent many years working to advance Bear River, get federal recognition, and help make it what it is today.

“Elizabeth passed away in 2005. This honorary degree is my dedication to her for all her hard work and struggles to make Bear River a success. Thanks to all the people who thought I deserved it.”


Dan Phillips, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Chamberlain Group

Dan Phillips (‘91, Business and Computer Information Systems)  is one of the great Humboldt County success stories. He grew up in the small town of Bridgeville in rural Humboldt County and went on to become a leading innovator and entrepreneur in the technology industry.

Phillips earned degrees at both College of the Redwoods and Cal Poly Humboldt. He started his first business with a professor at Humboldt, an effort that would lead to an array of new opportunities. After graduating, he moved to the Bay Area and worked at several successful companies. He eventually served as Chief Operations Officer at TiVo, and then took on the role as Chief Technology Officer at Hulu, where he was responsible for product management & design, engineering, and company operations. His most current role is Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Chamberlain Group. 

Phillips has also committed himself to supporting the aspirations of students at Cal Poly Humboldt and throughout the North Coast. He shares his knowledge, expertise, and resources to make an impact.

His involvement with Cal Poly Humboldt led to him chairing the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, Boldly Rising, which is enjoying strong success. In this role, Dan has been a highly visible ambassador. He works tirelessly to inspire others to give, significantly enhancing the quality of education and opportunities for students. He and his wife Cindy have personally donated more than $1 million for scholarships to support Humboldt students from the Eel River Valley. 

Phillips also co-founded, along with alumnus and donor John Ballard, Lost Coast Ventures. This nonprofit angel venture fund supports entrepreneurship while providing seed money to aspiring entrepreneurs at both Cal Poly Humboldt and the College of the Redwoods. Any profits are used to invest in additional businesses or given to benefit Cal Poly Humboldt and College of the Redwoods. Through Lost Coast Ventures, Phillips gives countless hours mentoring students, faculty, and others who are developing business concepts. 

Phillips’ leadership, his humility, and his positivity inspire those around him. He has had decades of success in business and technology, and he has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting students at Cal Poly Humboldt and throughout the North Coast.

"My work with the Boldly Rising campaign to raise $50 million, cofounding Lost Coast Ventures with John Ballard in support of the University, and creating the Phillips scholarship fund for local youth has been extremely rewarding,” Phillips says. “To play a small part and see the University’s transformation to Poly Technical university is particularly special.  I am extremely proud of the pivotal role that Cal Poly Humboldt is playing in elevating the North Coast, the engagement, education, and opportunities it is providing young people in the area and across the state, its leadership in diversity overall and being #1 in the state for women entering STEM programs, and the tight partnerships it has forged with the indigenous communities. This is just some of the impact that the university has and we are just starting on its transformational journey."