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ND awards 12 honorary degrees

Megan Doyle | Friday, May 20, 2011

Notre Dame will award 12 honorary degrees at this year’s Commencement in addition to the honorary degree it will give commencement speaker Robert Gates.

Gates, the U.S. secretary of defense, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. The other recipients will be honored with degrees in law, science and engineering.

Charles Lennon, associate vice president for University relations, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree before he retires in June. Lennon served the University for over 30 years as the executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. Under his leadership, the association grew from 151 to 276 alumni clubs around the world.

Lou Holtz, famed Irish football coach from 1986 to 1996, will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. Holtz led Notre Dame to the 1988 national championship and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

On three occasions during Holtz’s tenure as coach, the Irish held the highest graduation rate among Division I-A football programs. An active philanthropist, Holtz works with the Touching Tiny Lives Foundation and the Women’s Care Center of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The University will also award Shirin Ebadi, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, an honorary doctor of laws degree. As an Iranian lawyer and the first woman justice in the history of the Iranian judicial system, Ebadi founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant efforts regarding democracy and human rights for women, children and refugees.

Michael Brennan, a leading pioneer in the field of modern finance, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University. Brennan is a professor emeritus of finance at UCLA and the London Business School. His research in financial markets and work in corporate finance significantly impact the development of finance as a science.

John Glynn, a 1962 graduate of Notre Dame, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Glynn is founder and president of Glynn Capital Management, a California venture capital investment firm, and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.

Glynn and his wife endowed a chair in literature at Notre Dame and their family made a leadership gift to expand and fortify the Glynn Family Honors Program through the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science.

Jacqueline Novogratz will also be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. Novogratz is the founder and chief executive officer of the Acumen Fund. The Fund, a global nonprofit venture, has invested more than $40 million in over 35 companies in developing countries.

Notre Dame will award Bishop Gerald Kicanas an honorary doctor of laws degree. Kicanas, the bishop of Tucson, Ariz., was vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2007 to 2010. As a proponent of Catholic education, he partnered with Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) to establish three ACE Academy schools in the Diocese of Tucson.

Huguette Labelle, a global leader in anti-corruption efforts, will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Labelle chairs the board of Transparency International, an organization that promotes transparency in international politics and business. She is also a member of the board of the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative for businesses to promote standards of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.

Mary Beth O’Brien will be honored with a doctor of laws degree. O’Brien dedicates herself to the work of the Ladies of Charity USA (LSUSA), the American affiliate of an international organization that responds to the needs of the poor. She served as the president of the organization, a representative to the United Nations for the International Association of Charities, a trustee of Catholic Charities USA and a member of the American Housing Foundation. All six of her children are Notre Dame graduates.

John Mather, a co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for physics, will be awarded an honorary doctor of science degree. He is a senior anthropologist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. Mather received the Nobel Prize along with George Smoot for developing a satellite project to study the early universe.

French mathematician Laurent Lafforgue will also receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Lafforgue is a professor at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques. He received the 2002 Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Lafforgue is also actively engaged in issues related to French public education.

The University will award Michael Griffin an honorary doctor of engineering degree. From April 2005 to January 2009, Griffin served as the 11th NASA administrator, where he oversaw work on the future of human spaceflight, the fate of the Hubble telescope and the agency’s role in understanding climate change. Since leaving NASA, he joined the faculty in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.