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University to award seven honorary degrees at Commencement

| Friday, May 19, 2017

Editor’s Note: A version of this story was published March 31.

Notre Dame will award seven honorary degrees at Commencement ceremony May 21, including one to Vice President Mike Pence, the University announced in a press release March 30.

Pence, this year’s commencement speaker, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, along with Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Rev. Martin Junge and Philip J. Purcell III, according to the press release.

Bolden, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, served 14 of his 34 years in the military as a NASA astronaut, and became the agency’s twelfth administrator in 2009. According to the press release, he has served on four space shuttle missions, twice as commander and twice as pilot, and flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Pope Francis appointed Farrell, “the highest-ranking American serving in the Vatican,” a Cardinal in 2016 to lead the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, the press release said. His honorary degree from Notre Dame will be his fourth, as he also holds degrees from the University of Salamanca in Spain, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Junge, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, is the first Latin American general secretary — the chief ecumenical officer — of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a position he was elected to in 2010. Junge and the LWF commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation along with Pope Francis and the Vatican by co-authoring a report, “From Conflict to Communion,” and co-hosting the commemoration in Lund, Sweden, in October.

Purcell, for whom the Purcell Pavilion in the Joyce Center is named, is a 1964 graduate of the University and 25-year member of the board of trustees at Notre Dame. He is the founder and president of Continental Investors, and has previously been the chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley, director of American Airlines and Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, chairman of the Financial Services Forum, a director of the New York Stock Exchange and a member of the advisory council for Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

Alice Gast, the president of Imperial College London, will receive an honorary doctor of engineering degree from the University, according to the press release. A chemical engineer, Gast has previously served as vice president for research and associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the thirteenth president of Lehigh University.

Martha Lampkin Welborne, the senior vice president for corporate real estate and global facilities with The Walt Disney Company, will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from the University, according to the press release. After graduating with a degree in architecture from Notre Dame in 1975, Welborne earned two master’s degrees in architecture and city planning at MIT, and also served as the chief planning officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

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