Philanthropists with deep roots in Ventura County to be recognized with honorary doctorates by CSUCI

Esther Wachtell
Irene Pinkard

Philanthropy is a multi-generational tradition for Esther Wachtell of Ojai and Irene Pinkard, Ed.D., of Oxnard.

In recognition of their commitment to enhancing the culture, environment and educational opportunities in the Ventura/Santa Barbara County region, CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) will recognize Pinkard and Wachtell with honorary doctorates during CSUCI’s virtual commencement celebration to be held on Saturday, May 23 at 11 a.m.

Pinkard and her late husband Bedford Pinkard have long been forces for justice and equal opportunity in Ventura County, and their time, energy and generosity has extended to CSUCI.

“My husband was on the advisory board that fought for years to have a university here,” Pinkard said. “My husband went to Cal State Northridge. It’s something that’s been in the family for a long time, so it’s a natural to support Cal State Channel Islands.”

Asked about how it felt to be receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from CSUCI, Pinkard said: “It feels wonderful. I’m still on Cloud Nine.”

“At her core, Dr. Pinkard is an advocate for social justice and educational equity,” said CSUCI President Erika D. Beck, Ph.D. “Dr. Pinkard has had an impressive career in educational leadership and local politics. Her trailblazing career and undying commitment to the betterment of education at all levels is motivating and serves as an excellent example for the students of CSU Channel Islands.”

Longtime Ojai resident and prominent philanthropist Esther Wachtell said she is typically uncomfortable with these kinds of honors, but she considers the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters an exception because she deeply believes in CSUCI’s mission to provide educational opportunity to all students.

“The most important thing about CSUCI as far as I’m concerned is the students,” Wachtell said. “I so admire the students at Cal State Channel Islands because so many have responsibilities above and beyond their education and they handle it all with such grace. They have such a strong sense of what education will mean in their lives.”

“In Mrs. Wachtell you will find a leader who looks for every opportunity to give back to and serve her community,” Beck said. “Her decades of tireless work on behalf of the Ventura and Los Angeles County communities make her a true exemplar of the CSU Channel Islands spirit and it would be a unique privilege for the campus to bestow this honor on her.”

During the virtual celebration Health Science major and 2020 graduate Ashleigh Secor will read a message from Wachtell, who was one of those who helped make CSUCI a reality. Nursing student Jaelyn Anderson, who is a member of the Bedford and Dr. Irene Pinkard Multicultural Living Learning Community at CSUCI, will read a message from Irene Pinkard.

As the virtual commencement date gets closer, a livestream link will be made available at: