UA to Award Honorary Degrees to Two Alumni
Gilbert Aguirre and Mohammed Sharaf will receive honorary doctorates during the 154th Commencement ceremony on May 11.

University Communications
May 3, 2018

Two University of Arizona alumni will be awarded honorary degrees during the 154th Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11. UA colleges, departments and programs nominate individuals for honorary degrees, which recognize distinguished contributions to the university, state, nation or world at large.

Gilbert G. Aguirre
Honorary Doctor of Science from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

As Rancho Mission Viejo's executive vice president/ranch operations, Gilbert "Gil" Aguirre is responsible for the daily land management of the 23,000-acre mixed-use master-planned community in Southern California. Rancho Mission Viejo is the largest family-held landholding in Orange County and is the last remaining cattle ranch in the region.

In addition to overseeing all of Rancho Mission Viejo's ranching, farming, agricultural and industrial leasing, and related ranching interests, Aguirre is a member of the ranch's executive committee and has participated in all major land-development decisions for more than 40 years.

Aguirre has long been recognized as a leader in the ranching industry. He has been the managing partner of the North Folk Cattle Company for five decades, and was an owner and general manager of the historic 300,000-acre PX Ranch in North Fork, Nevada, for three decades. Today, Aguirre is an owner and managing partner of a 14,000-acre ranch near Cuyama, California. In addition to serving as president of multiple industry associations, he held a seat on the California Beef Council and was named California's Livestock Person of the Year in 2014.

Aguirre is a founder and director of Capital Bank in San Juan Capistrano, California. In 2016, he was named to the Orange County Business Journal's OC 500. He is president of the Donna O'Neill Land Conservancy, Rancho Mission Viejo's 1,205-acre preserve. He is on the boards of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano, California, which honored him with the Mark E. Aldrich Board Leadership Award.

Of all of Aguirre's contributions to the community and the cowboy way of life, his leadership of the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo may be the most significant. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association-sanctioned event is held each August and billed as "The Richest Two Day Rodeo in America." The Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo also has generated more than $1.9 million in charitable donations. Aguirre was elected to the California Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2008.

Born in Tucson in 1935, Aguirre graduated from the UA in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in animal science. Aguirre received a lifetime achievement award from the UA in 2009 for his support of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In 2013, he was named the CALS Alumnus of the Year.

Mohammed Sharaf
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Eller College of Management and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mohammed Sharaf is the assistant minister for economic and trade affairs at the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, a position he has held since July 2016.

After graduating from the UA in 1985 with a degree in business administration, Sharaf began his shipping career working on the docks of Howland Hook terminal in New York. He turned down several offers from government-related firms in the UAE to take the position as a tally clerk, which helped him learn all about wharf life.

In 1992, Sharaf joined Dubai Ports Authority and rose rapidly through the organization, holding a number of senior positions, including commercial director. In 2001, he became managing director of the newly established Dubai Ports International.

At DPI, Sharaf managed a major international growth strategy that included the successful acquisition of CSX WT and the P&O Group. With the integration of domestic and international arms of the Dubai Ports organization, the global port operator DP World was formed in 2005. Sharaf played a central role in the development of Dubai's container terminals at Jebel Ali and Port Rashid, which, combined, have become a top 10 global terminal facility.

Sharaf served as Group CEO of DP World, which is now the fourth-largest port operator in the world. Its portfolio includes more than 65 marine terminals across six continents, with new developments underway in India, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He played a key role in the development of DP World's global strategy, which used a core and innovative IT platform to drive the company's status as a global trade enabler in the industry.

During his tenure at DP World, Sharaf was listed at No. 3 on Arabian Business' list of the UAE's Top 50 Executives. Arabian Business called him the "driving force" behind DP World's growth, which included a 10 percent increase in net income from 2011 to 2012.

For the UAE Ministry, Sharaf currently leads the innovation team and is chairman of the FDI committee and the human capital committee. He is also joint vice chairman of the UAE International Investors Council, which acts as a link between UAE international investors and the government.

Extra info


154th UA Commencement


Arizona Stadium


7:30 p.m., Friday, May 11

Commencement is the university-wide celebration all colleges attend, where the students' degrees are conferred by UA President Robert C. Robbins. Ray Mabus, former secretary of the Navy, governor of Mississippi and U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will be the keynote speaker at the University of Arizona's 154th Commencement. Read more about Mabus at UANews.

For more information about Commencement, visit:


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Stacy Pigott

University Communications