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Krasinski, Burns, to earn honorary degrees

Krasinski to deliver Baccalaureate address to graduating class during Commencement

By
University News Editor
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

At Commencement on May 26, President Paxson P’19 will confer honorary doctorates on seven individuals distinguished in their fields — Sheryl Brissett Chapman ’71, Ken Burns, John Krasinski ’01, Jennifer Anne Richeson ’94, David M. Rubenstein, E. Paul Sorensen ’71 MA’75 PhD’77 P’06 P’06 and Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72 P’06 P’06, according to a University press release.

Krasinski will deliver the Baccalaureate address to the class of 2019 the day before Commencement.

Krasinski is an actor, writer and director best known for his role as Jim Halpert on “The Office.” He currently stars in “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” and he co-wrote and starred in the 2018 Oscar-nominated film “A Quiet Place.” Krasinski got his start in acting as a first-year at the University after joining the student sketch comedy group “Out of Bounds.” He will receive a Doctorate of Fine Arts.

In nearly three decades as executive director of the National Center for Children and Families, Chapman has led the organization to serve over 50,000 people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or parental abuse and neglect. While studying at the University, Chapman participated in the 1968 Black Student Walkout as a student leader. For her work on issues including poverty, homelessness and childhood trauma, Chapman will be awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Burns is a documentary filmmaker known for directing and producing several acclaimed historical documentaries, including “The Civil War,” “Jazz,” “Jackie Robinson” and “The Vietnam War.” His films have been nominated for two Oscars and have won 16 Emmy awards and two Grammy awards. Burns will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Richeson, a professor of psychology at Yale, conducts research on the psychological and political implications of increasing cultural and racial diversity. She was named a MacArthur Fellow, which is also commonly referred to as agenius grant, in 2006 for her work that explores how people respond to various kinds of inequality and examines the role of prejudice in people’s lives. Richeson was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015. She will be awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Rubenstein serves as co-executive chairman of the Carlyle Group, an investment firm he co-founded. He is a philanthropist who has made donations to restore historic landmarks — such as the Washington Monument and the Library of Congress — and has loaned the U.S. government rare copies of historical documents he owns, including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Before he co-founded Carlyle, Rubenstein was deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy under President Jimmy Carter. He will be given a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

For over 25 years, Paul Sorensen worked to develop and promote a product engineering software package called ABAQUS. He currently serves as co-chair of the University’s BrownTogether fundraising campaign and sits on University committees such as the Engineering Advisory Council, the Middle East Studies Advisory Council and the Brown University Sports Foundation. Paul Sorensen has also chaired nonprofit organizations such as Equitable Origin, GOALS Haiti and the Raiz Foundation. He will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Joan Wernig Sorensen, a trustee on the Corporation, has worked with the University on alumni relations and fundraising for over 45 years. She co-chairs the BrownTogether fundraising campaign along with her husband, Paul Sorensen. She has also served as a consultant to a number of nonprofit organizations, co-chair of the Brown Annual Fund and the first woman president of the Brown Club of Rhode Island. Joan Wernig Sorensen will be awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters.