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ND to award eight honorary degrees

Madeline Buckley | Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Notre Dame will award seven honorary degrees in addition to the honorary doctor of laws degree that will be given to President Barack Obama, the University announced Monday.

The recipients are “distinguished figures in academia, business, athletics, engineering, law and philanthropy,” according to a press release.

The eight degrees will be awarded at the May 17 graduation ceremony.

“We seek to honor people who have made significant contributions to our nation,” University spokesperson Dennis Brown said of the recipients.

Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall T. Shepard will receive a doctor of laws. Shepard has served as chief justice since 1987, and his leadership has led to “dramatic improvements, including successfully breaking down the language barriers in the courts, creating an atmosphere of accountability for judges, and educating the public about the judiciary’s role in society,” the release said. Shepard was recently appointed to the U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules by United States Chief Justice John Roberts.

Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, will receive a doctor of laws. He served as president of the University of Oregon and Indiana University and as chair of the Association of American Universities. Brand is a philosopher and has focused his studies on “the nature of human action,” the release said.

A doctor of humane letters degree will be awarded to Cindy Parseghian, a Notre Dame graduate who founded the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation along with her husband. The Foundation works to find a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a fatal genetic disorder that affected three out of Parseghian’s four children and has raised more than $33 million to help scientists find the gene responsible for the disease and develop a cure, according to the release.

President Emeritus of Purdue University Steven Beering will receive a doctor of laws degree. Beering served as president of Purdue from 1983 to 2000 and is currently the chair of the National Science Board. Beering has also served as chair of the Association of Medical Colleges and Association of American Universities. He spent 10 years as dean of medicine and director of the Indiana University Medical Center and currently holds appointments as professor of medicine at Indiana University and professor of pharmacology at Purdue University.

A doctor of engineering degree will be awarded to Patrick Finneran, vice president of program management and business excellence for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. Finneran, a Notre Dame graduate, has “led every military aircraft program at Boeing’s St. Louis site,” the release said. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years and has combat service in the Vietnam War. Finneran retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Fritz L. Duda, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees, will receive a doctor of laws degree. Duda is the chief executive officer of a Dallas-based investment company, and he owns a real estate and investment firm. Before his election to the Board of Trustees in 1997, Duda served on the Advisory Council for the School of Architecture, helping to develop a “long-term plan for the Notre Dame campus” and influencing a return to the gothic theme for new campus buildings, according to the release.

President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Don Michael Randel will receive a doctor of laws degree, as he is “a prolific and internationally prominent historian of music,” the release said. Randel taught at Cornell University for 32 years and served as the dean of the university’s college of arts and letters. He was appointed president of the University of Chicago in 2000 and led the largest fund-raising campaign in the university’s history.