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Honorary degrees to be awarded

Ken Fowler | Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Notre Dame will award 10 honorary degrees at the University’s commencement exercises May 19 and 20, including one to a foreign leader.

In addition to General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who will give the undergraduate commencement address, nine others will receive honorary degrees, the University announced Monday.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, known as a force for democratization in his home country, will receive an honorary doctorate of laws. From 1970 until 1997, Adamkus served in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was elected Lithuanian president in 1998 and served until 2003. His opponent in 2003, Rolandas Paksas, won the election but was impeached 14 months later. Adamkus ran for a second term and won with 52 percent of the vote in a run-off election.

Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the University of Michigan and commencement speaker for doctoral and master’s degree graduates, will receive a doctor of science degree for work in “student residential life, interdisciplinary studies, ethics in society and health care,” a University news release said.

Notre Dame graduate Robert Kiely will receive a doctor of laws degree for his 50 years of public service. Kiely was chair and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City from 1983-90 before serving as commissioner of transport in London from 2001-06.

Immaculée Ilibagiza, author of “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” and member of the United Nations Development Program, will receive a doctor of humanities degree.

The president of Catholic Relief Services, Kenneth Hackett, will receive a doctorate of humanities. Hackett has led Catholic Relief Services since 2003, during which time the organization aided recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast states hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Asian nations ravaged by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.

Chicago sculptor Robert Hunt, whose works include “Jacob’s Ladder” at the Carter G. Woodson Library in Chicago and “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Memphis, will receive a degree as doctor of fine arts.

Notre Dame Forum participant Dr. Paul Farmer, an attending physician at two hospitals and professor of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School, will receive an honorary doctorate of science.

Archbishop Elias Chacour, a Melkite priest in the Holy Lands, will receive a doctor of laws degree for his work on peace efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More than 20 years ago, Chacour founded the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, which schools 4,500 students of all three major monotheist faiths.

Father P. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., who has served as the Vatican’s preacher for the papal house since 1980, also will receive a doctor of laws degree.