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Honorary degrees announced

Amanda Michaels | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Joining the more than 2,000 undergraduate and advanced degree candidates receiving diplomas at Notre Dame’s 161st Commencement exercises May 21 will be 12 prominent visitors – including Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Harper Lee, the University announced in a statement Tuesday.

Along with keynote speaker Irish President Mary McAleese, the recipients – three women and 10 men, including McAleese – will be awarded honorary degrees from the University acknowledging their work in a wide spectrum of professional fields.

Honorary degrees are conferred in recognition of the accomplishments of various individuals. Students, faculty and staff members are all allowed to nominate a person for an honorary degree. University officers, including University President Father John Jenkins, narrow down the pool. Honorees do not necessarily need a connection to the University.

Landrum Bolling, a leader in higher education whose many former roles include president and chairman of the board of Lilly Endowment Inc., chairman and chief executive officer of the National Council on Foundations and president and rector of the Notre Dame-founded Ecumenical Institute in Israel, will receive a doctor of laws.

Kevin Cahill, an expert on tropical medicine who has worked internationally in disaster and crises areas and treated Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt in 1981, will receive a doctor of science.

Anthony Earley Jr., chairman of the board, chief executive officer, chief operating officer and president of DTE Energy Company, will receive a doctor of engineering.

Norman Francis, president of the nation’s only black Catholic college, Xavier University in New Orleans, who has worked to rebuild the institution since the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, will receive a doctor of humanities.

Lee, author of widely-read and influential novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961, will receive a doctor of humane letters.

Gil Loescher, political science professor emeritus at Notre Dame and sole survivor of the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which left him badly-injured, will receive a doctor of laws.

Francis Oakley, the president emeritus of Williams College and prominent medieval scholar, will also receive a doctor of laws.

Karen Rauenhorst, a Minneapolis-area community leader and philanthropist who serves on the boards of several Catholic charities and heads the Mark and Karen Rauenhorst Family Foundation with husband Mark, will also receive a doctor of laws.

John Sandner, the retired chair of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the chair of the new futures group of E*trade Securities, will also receive a doctor of laws.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan of the Diocese of Santa Fe, New Mex., recognized for his strong leadership in dealing with a sexual abuse scandal existing in the archdiocese prior to his arrival, will also receive a doctor of laws.

Matthew Storin, a respected journalist who served as editor of the Boston Globe for nine years and is the former associate vice president for News and Information at Notre Dame, will also receive a doctor of laws.

Nationally-recognized trial lawyer Thomas Sullivan, who has worked to improve the criminal justice system, most recently in regards to death penalty reform, will also receive a doctor of laws.

In addition to the honorary degrees, jazz musician Dave Brubeck will be awarded the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame’s highest honor.