USF Honors Water.org Co-Founder Gary White on May 17

SAN FRANCISCO (May 16, 2013) - The University of San Francisco (USF) will present an honorary doctorate to Gary White, chief executive officer and co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation. USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., will confer the degree during the commencement ceremony for 347humanities and sciences graduates of USF's School of Arts and Sciences on Friday, May 17, at noon.

"Gary White is completely committed to bringing clean drinking water to millions of people in developing countries through his organization, Water.org," said Privett. "He is a particularly compelling example for our graduates of someone who has put his knowledge and skill at the service of the least among us. We celebrate his approach to devoting his professional career to shaping systematic, sustainable social change to address global water needs."

As a college student in the mid-1980s, White took a trip to Guatemala City that transformed his life. After watching a young girl carry home water scooped from an unhealthy container, White became increasingly disturbed by the sources of drinking water and the connection to disease. This experience in Guatemala motivated White to fight for improving and sustaining water sanitation, to find answers to why these problems exist in the first place, and what solutions could be developed.

After completing his education, White worked for Catholic Relief Services before returning back to pursue second master's degree in environmental engineering. During this time, he founded WaterPartners, which attracted grants from several philanthropic organizations. One such grant was from H2O Africa, a group co-founded by actor Matt Damon. In 2009, WaterPartners merged with H2O Africa to become Water.org, pioneering innovative, community-driven, and market-based solutions to ensure all people have access to safe water and sanitation. To date, Water.org has positively transformed the lives of more than 1,000,000 individuals living across communities in Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The graduation ceremony will take place at noon in St. Ignatius Catholic Church on the USF campus-located at 650 Parker Ave. (at Fulton Street) in San Francisco. A live video stream of the ceremony is available at www.usfca.edu.

To request interviews with Mr. White, or USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., please contact Anne-Marie Devine, senior director of media relations at USF, at 415.422.2697 or abdevine@usfca.edu.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most innovative and diverse cities and is home to a vibrant academic community of students and faculty who achieve excellence in their fields. Its diverse student body enjoys direct access to faculty, small classes, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is San Francisco's first university, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to "Change the World from Here."  For more information, please visit www.usfca.edu.