University announces 2019 honorary degree recipients
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, March 26, 2019
The University announced six individuals who will receive honorary degrees at commencement exercises on May 19, 2019 in a press release Tuesday.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan, John Affleck-Graves, who has served as Notre Dame’s executive vice president since 2004, Carol Corrigan, an associate justice of California’s Supreme Court since 2006 and James Poterba, a professor of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will all receive honorary doctor of laws degrees. Ignacio Sánchez, a physician who serves as the president of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. Professor Esther Takeuchi, “one of the world’s leading energy storage researchers” at Stony Brook University, will receive an honorary doctor of engineering degree.
Noonan, who was one of President Ronald Reagan’s speechwriters and has worked as a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, will also serve as commencement speaker.
According to the release, the University will be awarding Affleck-Graves, retiring in June, with his degree to commemorate his career “as a teacher, researcher and administrator.” Affleck-Graves has overseen the fiscal development of the University over the course of his tenure as executive vice president, the release said.
“As the University’s chief financial officer, [Affleck-Graves] oversees the operating budget, endowment, finance, information technology, human resources, campus safety, event management, construction, building services, landscaping, food services and auxiliary operations,” the release said. “During his tenure, Notre Dame’s annual operating budget has grown to $1.5 billion from $650 million and the endowment has increased to $13.1 billion from $3.5 billion. Thirty-six new buildings have been constructed, totaling 3.3 million square feet.”
Affleck-Graves, who is both a native of South Africa and a naturalized U.S. citizen, will return to teaching finance upon his June 30 retirement, the release said.
Corrigan, the California Supreme Court justice, has served in numerous roles in the state’s judiciary system and has won many awards for her work, the release said. The magna cum laude alumna of Holy Names University, who was re-elected in November for another 12-year term, recently served as the co-chair of the Commission on the Future of California’s Court System.
“[Corrigan] and a fellow associate justice were described by the Los Angeles Times as judges whose ‘votes and opinions peg neither as an obvious liberal or conservative, ideologue or pragmatist. Both are considered deft thinkers and writers,’” the release said.
In addition to his work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Poterba also serves as president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the “official arbiter” of recessions and recoveries of the U.S. economy. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from Oxford.
“The National Academy of Sciences, of which he is a member, honored him with its NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing for ’his influential and comprehensive review of factors determining the savings of individuals over their lifetimes and the private accumulation of wealth for retirement,’” the release said.
Sánchez, who was appointed president of his university in 2010 for the first time and again for a second term in 2015 by Pope Francis, is a specialist in the medical field with a focus on “cystic fibrosis, asthma and other respiratory illnesses in children and is the author of a handbook and more than 200 articles on the subject,” according to the release. In the past he has served as both the director and dean of the university’s school of medicine.
“In addition to his scholarly work in the medical field, he has written two books on Chilean higher education. He is the head of the Chilean chapter of Catholic universities, which is a part of the International Federation of Catholic Universities,” the release said.
Takeuchi, an alumna of Ohio State University and the University of Pennsylvania, has collected many honors for her work over the course of her career, the release said.
“[Takeuchi] has been honored many times over, including induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineering, and as a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, for her development of the battery to power the implantable cardiac defibrillator,” the release said.
According to the release, the device has helped save many lives and is one of several inventionsTakeuchi is attributed with creating.
“Invented during her 22-year career at the technology firm Greatbatch Inc. (now Integer Corp.), the life-saving device provides a combination of high power, small size and long life — about five years, compared to the previous device batteries that lasted less than two years,” the release said. “The devices are implanted annually in more than 300,000 people with ventricular arrhythmias. She holds more than 150 patents and also is a chief scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory.”