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ND, SMC to present honorary degrees to 18 figures

Kate Antonacci and Nicole Zook | Friday, May 13, 2005

In addition to the original 13 honorary degrees to be awarded at Notre Dame’s May 15 commencement ceremony, University officials announced that outgoing University President Father Edward Malloy and outgoing University Provost Nathan Hatch will also be honored with degrees.

Malloy has served as University president since 1987. In his 18-year tenure, the percentage of minority students more than doubled, University-administered financial aid saw a 1,000-fold increase, 27 new buildings were erected and 20 others were renovated. On a global level, Malloy was involved in discussions about the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II’s 1990 statement on Catholic higher education.

Malloy led the Notre Dame community through difficult times, such as Sept. 11, 2001, a bus accident involving the women’s swim team in 1992, which killed two students, and the removal of two executive vice presidents.

Hatch, who first joined the University’s faculty in 1975, will become president of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., on July 1. Hatch is the third person to serve as provost, the No. 2 officer of the University after the president, since the position was created in 1970.

“I’m just extremely grateful for the close working relationship that I’ve had with Nathan [Hatch] and the quality of the leadership he’s provided, the people he has hired and attracted to Notre Dame, and I really think he’s going to be a superb leader of Wake Forest as the president,” Malloy said.

Malloy credited Hatch with a significant portion of Notre Dame’s recent successes.

“Let me assure you, if you do a history of the most recent part of Notre Dame,” Malloy said, “Nathan deserves a very important role or credit for a lot of good things that have gone on.”

In addition to Malloy, Hatch and commencement speaker Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, Notre Dame will honor distinguished figures – three women and 10 men – for their contributions in fields ranging from business, law and science to medicine, sports and entertainment, said Dennis Brown, associate director of news and information.

Honorary degrees are ways of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of various individuals. Students, faculty and staff members are all allowed to nominate a person for an honorary degree.

“Each of the colleges submits recommendations for honorary degree recipients, and other suggestions can be submitted by anyone within the campus community,” Brown said.

During the process, Malloy and several officers then narrow down the group of nominees. They make the final decisions, which usually consists of 10 to 12 individuals who do not necessarily have a connection to the University, Brown said.

Hank Aaron, the all-time leader for career runs in Major League Baseball who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a strong papal candidate before Pope Benedict XVI was selected and has been instrumental in promoting inter-religious dialogue, will also receive a doctorate of laws.

Benjamin Carson, one of the top brain surgeons in the world known for successfully separating Siamese twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, will receive a doctorate of science.

Judge Robert Carter, a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York known for his involvement in the civil rights movement, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Robert Conway, Class of 1966, a senior director at Goldman Sachs who also serves on Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Jack Greenberg, a well-known lawyer who was active in the civil rights movement and has argued 40 cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Joseph Keller, a well-known mathematician who has contributed significantly to the world of engineering and science, will receive a doctorate of science.

Sonia Manzano, a writer, producer and actress who has played Maria on “Sesame Street” for over 30 years, will receive a doctorate of laws.

James Morris, executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, the world’s largest food aid organization, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Anne Mulcahy, the CEO and chair of the board of Xerox, will receive a doctorate of laws.

Steven Sample, president of the University of Southern California and well-known electrical engineer, will receive a doctorate of engineering.

1979 graduate Carol Lally Shields, associate director of oncology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia who captained the Notre Dame women’s basketball team three times, will receive a doctorate of science.

Joseph Walther, a decorated U.S. Army Air Force surgeon in World War II who founded the non-profit research organization Walther Cancer Institute of Indianapolis, will receive a doctorate of science.

In addition to honoring commencement speaker Janet Endress Squires, Saint Mary’s will give honorary degrees to Sister Marian Teresa Gomes and Heifer Project International.

Gomes is the former Area VII coordinator for the Holy Cross Sisters and the president of Holy Cross College in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Holy Cross was recognized as the best university in Bangladesh in 2003 under Gomes’ direction.

Because it is an organization, the Heifer Project is an unusual choice for award recipient. The humanitarian non-profit agency began in Elkhart in 1944 and has since benefited poor families in 115 countries by giving them livestock, food and agricultural training. Many Saint Mary’s students and faculty have been involved with the program.

Executive Assistant to the President Susan Dampeer called the Project “an extraordinary charity” and said that while the College has never awarded an honorary degree to an organization before, Heifer Project International is certainly a worthy recipient.

“Saint Mary’s has a huge commitment to service, and I think that the fact that our students recommended [Heifer Project International] really shows how much we value service,” she said.

A special award, the President’s Medal, will be given to Sister Jean Klene, a 1959 Saint Mary’s graduate who received a master’s degree from Notre Dame and a doctorate from the University of Toronto. She will retire at the end of this year.

Klene, an English professor at the College for 35 years who inspired thousands of students and left an indelible mark on the English department with her courses on Shakespeare, was chosen to receive the honor by College president Carol Mooney, who Klene taught as an undergraduate at Saint Mary’s.

“The President’s Medal is not given every year,” Dampeer said. “It is given basically for a lifetime of service to the College. It’s a special way for the president to recognize someone who’s done extraordinary things for the College.”