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Diggs, De Niro among those to receive honorary degrees from University

Artists, business leaders, scientist recognized for their professional achievements

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2017

Robert De Niro, Daveed Diggs ’04, Donald Hood MS’68 PHD’70, Rosmarie Waldrop, Richard Parsons and Indra Nooyi will all receive honorary degrees at this year’s Commencement ceremony.

Each year during commencement, the University bestows honorary degrees to a group of professionals who are outstanding in their fields. This year’s diverse selection of six candidates include two award-winning actors, the chief executive officer of PepsiCo and a poet, according to a University press release. The six recipients — Robert De Niro, Daveed Diggs ’04, Donald Hood MS’68 PhD’70, Indra Nooyi, Richard Parsons and Rosmarie Waldrop ­­— will receive their honorary degrees during Commencement May 28.

De Niro is an Italian-American actor well-known for his wide range of performances in films such as “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas,” “Raging Bull,” “Awakenings” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” He has won Academy Awards for his roles in “The Godfather Part II” and “Raging Bull,” and has been nominated for numerous other awards. De Niro will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts for his cinematic work.

Diggs, who graduated from Brown with a degree in theater, arts and performance studies, will be receiving a Doctor of Fine Arts to celebrate his many accomplishments, which include a Tony award and Grammy award for his performance as both Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.” An actor, rapper and writer, Diggs is the vocalist of the hip-hop and rap group “clipping.,” as well as a member of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail’s freestyle rap group.

Hood has been a faculty members at Columbia since 1969, teaching courses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. He has published over 300 works that focus on the biology of vision, including diseases of the retina and optic nerve. He currently serves as the James F. Bender Professor of Psychology, as well as secretary of the Corporation, and was vice president of the arts and sciences at Columbia from 1982 to 1987. He will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Nooyi is the current chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo and has been consistently ranked among Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women.” Nooyi was elected chairwoman of the U.S.-India Business Council in 2008 and currently leads its Board of Directors, which includes more than 60 senior executives. She will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Parsons will also receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. Having previously served as chairman of Citigroup and chairman and CEO of Time Warner, Inc., he is currently senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners. Parsons is chairman of Jazz Foundation of America, a board member of Teach for America and was appointed Board Chair of The Rockefeller Foundation June 2016.

Waldrop is a German poet, translator and publisher who has written 17 books of poetry, two novels and three books of criticism. She received her master’s and PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, and then went on to teach at Wesleyan University. She has worked as a visiting professor at Brown and resided in Providence for nearly 60 years. She will be receiving a Doctor of Letters for her literary work.

Diggs will deliver the Baccalaureate address to the Class of 2017 May 27.