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Ukleja Center Honors Deukmejian

Published: March 15, 2013

The Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at CSULB presented its 2013 Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award to George Deukmejian, 35th governor of California, on Feb. 28.

The award presentation took place at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach during “Leading the Ethical Organization,” a business ethics seminar offered by the Ukleja Center and Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 500 people attended the seminar, featuring Deukmejian as the keynote speaker with Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe as the moderator.

Accompanied by a $10,000 check, the award was presented to Deukmejian by Louise Ukleja, chair of the Ukleja Center’s advisory board, and Greg Wooden, grandson of Nell and John Wooden.

“George Deukmejian epitomizes the spirit of the Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award,” Ukleja said. “Like the Woodens, the governor has chosen to lead a purposeful life guided by the principles of integrity, respect and trust.”

Deukmejian served as California’s governor from 1983-91, having previously served as California attorney general and in the State Senate and Assembly. His tenure as governor was highlighted by policies that established a positive business climate in the state. As a result, California led the nation in major new business expansions, growth in small businesses and creation of nearly three million new jobs, making California one of the 10 largest economies in the world.

A native of New York, Deukmejian earned his B.A. degree from Siena College and J.D. degree from St. John’s University Law School. He is the recipient of 10 honorary degrees and was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Deukmejian began practicing law in 1956. He was a deputy county counsel for Los Angeles before opening his own law office in Long Beach. He later went in practice with Lucas, Lucas & Deukmejian and then with Reidman, Dalessi, Deukmejian and Woods. Deukmejian was a partner in the international law firm of Sidley & Austin from 1991 until his retirement in 2001. He and his wife, Gloria, reside in Long Beach.

Deukmejian Honored By Ukleja Center
At presentation of Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award are (l-r) Greg Wooden, George Deukmejian, Louise Ukleja and Michael Solt.

“With dignity and sincerity as his guiding lights—in his role as governor as well as throughout his life—George Deukmejian has become a positive role model for public servants, attorneys and business leaders across the country,” said Michael Solt, director of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership and dean of CSULB’s College of Business Administration. “We are honored to have had an opportunity to recognize his exponential leadership influence with this award.”

John Wooden, who passed away at the age of 99 in 2010, received the Ukleja Center’s inaugural Ethics in Leadership Award in 2009. He is best known as the long-time and highly-successful UCLA men’s basketball coach who instilled confidence and transmitted the values of his “Pyramid of Success” to the on-court behavior of his players.

The award is named for Nell and John Wooden to promote their practice of ethical leadership and to celebrate leaders who embody the Ukleja Center’s core values of integrity, excellence, empowerment and servant leadership. It is designed to honor a person or organization whose contribution is built on ethical behavior and visionary leadership.

–Jane Roeder