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University honors 10 with degree

Observer staff report | Friday, April 13, 2012

Notre Dame will award 10 honorary degrees at this year’s Commencement ceremony, in addition to the honorary degree given to commencement speaker Haley Scott DeMaria, the University announced Thursday.

DeMaria, a former Irish swimmer who made a remarkable recovery from injuries sustained in a team bus accident, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Other recipients will be honored with degrees in science, law and engineering.

Jude Banatte, head of programming for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Haiti, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Banatte gained international recognition for his leadership in the response to Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. In the aftermath of the quake, Banatte visited hospitals, assessed medical needs and helped search for survivors and medical supplies. He has also led CRS initiatives to provide temporary shelter for quake victims and traveled as an advocate for the country’s needs. A Haitian native, he earned a medical degree in 1991 and immediately joined CRS.

The University will also award mathematician Luis Caffarelli an honorary doctor of science degree. A leader in the field of partial differential equations and their applications, he has taught at the universities of Minnesota, Chicago, and Texas and New York University and Princeton University. He currently serves as a professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. His work has made significant scientific contributions in the areas of homogenization, nonlinear elliptic equations and free boundary problems. Caffarelli received the American Mathematical Society’s Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2009.

Dick Ebersol, a longtime television producer for NBC, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. His career credits range from “Saturday Night Live” to the Olympics, including eight of the top 10 most-watched television events in U.S. history. Ebersol was also instrumental in acquiring the rights to televise Notre Dame home football games on NBC. He temporarily dropped out of Yale in 1967 to become television’s first-ever Olympics researcher, and he has worked to make NBC the home of the Games since 1992. For 22 years, Ebersol also led the network’s coverage of professional baseball, basketball and football, including several Super Bowls.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory will be honored with a doctor of laws degree. The leader of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Gregory served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during his tenure as bishop of Belleville, Ill., in 2001, making him the first African-American ever to head an episcopal conference. Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Atlanta in 2004. He has written extensively on the liturgy and on Church issues, including pastoral statements on the death penalty, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Notre Dame will award alumnus Kevin Hasson an honorary doctor of laws degree. A leading legal advocate of religious freedom, Hasson is founder and president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonpartisan public-interest law firm that represents people of all faiths, from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. As a Notre Dame undergraduate, Hasson majored in economics and theology, and he received both a master’s degree in theology and a law degree from the University. He served in the Justice Department and advised the White House on church-state relations and constitutional issues under then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel Alito. He is the author of several works on religious liberty, including a book titled “The Right to be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America.”

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Born in New York and educated in Turkey and London, Kent began his tenure at Coca-Cola in 1978 as a truck driver. He rose through the company’s management ranks in Central Asia and Europe until 1999, when he became president and CEO of the Istanbul-based Efes Beverage Group. He rejoined Coca-Cola after six years with Efes and was named CEO in July 2008.

Notre Dame alumnus Joseph O’Neill will be honored with a doctor of laws degree. A member of the Board of Trustees, O’Neill is the managing partner of O’Neill Properties, a Texas oil and gas production company founded by his father, also a Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee. His service to the University includes a tenure as president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association and a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Council. He is also the benefactor of O’Neill Hall and was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2001.

Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C., will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. A member of the Board of Trustees and former president of the University of Portland, Tyson currently serves as the provincial superior of the United States Province of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, a position he has held since 2003. A Notre Dame alumnus, Tyson has served in several roles at the University, including admissions counselor, assistant rector, business professor, executive assistant to the president and vice president for student affairs. During his tenure at Portland, Tyson led a major expansion of its campus, endowed teaching chairs and funding, including a tripling of the university’s endowment.

James Wagner, president of Emory University, will be honored with a doctor of engineering degree. An award-winning teacher, prolific author and advocate of liberal education, Wagner has taught engineering at his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, and Case Western Reserve University, where he served as a dean, provost and interim president for five years. He became Emory’s president in 2003 and continues to engage in scholarship on the relationship between ethics, science and the role of the university.

Former Dean of the Mendoza College of Business Carolyn Woo will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. After leaving her position as dean in 2011, Woo is now president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. In 1981, she joined the faculty at her alma mater, Purdue University, where she later served as director of the Krannert School of Management and associate executive vice president for academic affairs. She began her tenure as Mendoza’s dean in 1997 and became a leader in integrating Catholic faith and business excellence, a relationship solidified by Mendoza’s focus on ethics and its top ranking among undergraduate business schools for the past three years.