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University names six honorary degree recipients

| Friday, May 16, 2014

Notre Dame will honor six leaders in the fields of business, the Church, community outreach, education, engineering and the arts as recipients of honorary degrees from the University at its 169th Commencement ceremony May 18, according to a University press release.

Retired oil executive W. Douglas Ford and Harvard University professor Evelyn Hu will receive honorary doctor of engineering degrees, and biologist and higher education leader Sally Mason and Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, will receive doctor of laws degrees, the release stated.

Notre Dame will also honor choreographer Judith Jamison with an honorary doctorate of fine arts and surgeon and activist Ray Hammond with a degree in humane letters, according to the press release. Hammond will also deliver the Commencement address.

“Notre Dame seeks to honor people who have made significant contributions to society,” University spokesman Dennis Brown told The Observer. “They are not selected on the basis of celebrity. Some are more well-known than others, but all of them are extraordinarily accomplished in their fields.

“We also try to honor individuals who come from a variety of fields — law, the arts, entertainment, literature, education, the Church, politics, business, the sciences, engineering, the media and other areas.”

Ford, a retired executive in the oil industry and member of the Notre Dame class of 1966, worked as chief executive of refining and marketing for British Petroleum (BP) and provided the funds to establish the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at Notre Dame, according to the press release. He currently serves on Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees.

A professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Harvard University, Hu researches nanoscale electronic and photonic devices, according to the press release. She has developed products from her research by co-directing the California Nanosystems Institute and co-founding Cambrios and Siluria, two startup companies that develop novel materials for electronic devices.

Mason, the 20th president of the University of Iowa, researches developmental biology, genetics and biochemistry of pigment cells. She has supported sustainability initiatives and fought to increase enrollment and retention at Iowa, the release stated.

Dedicating his pastoral outreach to Latino and Haitian immigrants, O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, founded the Centro Catolico Hispano in Washington D.C. He currently serves on a council of eight cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to assist with Church governance and this year joins the inaugural Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, according to the press release.

Artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jamison led the company for 21 years, starred in a Broadway musical and founded her own dance company. She succeeded Ailey as the director of his company and established the group’s permanent home and international tour circuit, the press release stated.

Hammond, “a Harvard-trained surgeon and urban community leader,” founded Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston, where he serves as pastor, the press release stated. Hammond has held leadership positions with outreach groups in Boston and written papers and articles focusing on social concerns, including academic achievement and violence prevention.

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About Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson is a senior news writer for The Observer after previously serving as News Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor. She is a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, studying Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and American Studies and living in Breen-Phillips Hall. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lcstevenson, and visit her website at lcstevenson.wordpress.com

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