The University recently announced its selection of eight scholars and intellectuals to be given honorary degrees this May during the 248th commencement ceremony, according to a University press release. Among them are a surgeon, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a leading Shakespeare expert, all to be awarded for their contributions to society in their fields.
Two of the eight honorees are alums: Thomas G. Catena ’86 and Jean Howard ’70.
Catena is the medical director of the Mother of Mercy Hospital in central Sudan, which is the sole surgical hospital in the Nuba Mountains, a largely impoverished area with one million people. He was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2015 for his work. Catena is being honored for his humanitarian efforts — treating a staggering number of diseases, from malaria to brain injuries, since 2008. He will be awarded a Doctorate of Medical Science.
Howard has taught for almost three decades at Columbia, where she is a professor of the humanities. Her work was among the first to use feminist critiques of early drama. An author of five books and over 50 essays, she is also a regarded scholar of Shakespeare, formerly serving as president of the Shakespeare Association of America. Howard will be awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Cornelia Bargmann is a neurobiologist known for her work with C. elegans, a model organism that has allowed her to understand the interactions among genetics, neurology and behavior. Bargmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently the head of the Lulu and Anthony Wang Laboratory of Neural Circuits and Behavior at Rockefeller University. She will be receiving a Doctorate of Science.
Umberto Crenca started AS220, a nonprofit community arts center in Providence that aims to be “a local home and forum for the arts,” especially for artists who cannot find the space or have the means to perform or create their art, according to its website. The art center has housed about 93,000 exhibits and provided space for 1,000 artists. Crenca will receive a Doctorate of Fine Arts.
Angus Deaton is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton. In 2015, Deaton received the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on consumerism, welfare and financial inequality. Trained at Cambridge University, he is an accomplished author and teacher with over three decades of experience. In a New York Times article, journalist Justin Wolfers wrote of Deaton, “he’s motivated by the questions that really matter, he is intellectually relentless, he has enormous integrity, and he has devoted his life to understanding and improving the lot of the poor.” Deaton will be awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Kevin Gover, a member of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma, runs the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. Gover served as the assistant secretary of Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior until 2001, after which he worked as a senior executive for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Gover spent his career rebuilding relationships between the U.S. government and Indian nations. He will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Antonia Hernández has had an extensive career in legal services and community affairs, serving as president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation. She is being recognized for her work with underprivileged groups in Los Angeles, providing them with legal support, housing, education and other basic needs. She will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Charles Rosenthal served as a trustee on the University’s Corporation from 1992 to 2007. He is currently the a senior managing director and portfolio manager for First Manhattan Consulting Group in New York City. He has been a longtime supporter of the partnership between the University and the Marine Biological Laboratory, a marine biology institute that focuses on biomedicine, biology and environmental science education and research in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He will receive a Doctorate of Humane Letters.
Gover will give the graduating class of 2016 their Baccalaureate address the day before commencement.