Notre Dame to award 7 honorary degrees at Commencement

Author: Brendan O’Shaughnessy

Six distinguished figures in business, the Church, community leadership, education, engineering and the performing arts will join principal speaker Christopher Patten as honorary degree recipients at the University of Notre Dame’s 169th University Commencement Ceremony on May 18 (Sunday).

The ceremony will be held in the morning at Notre Dame Stadium in order to accommodate as many guests as possible. Undergraduate diploma ceremonies for each college and school will be held the afternoon of May 18, and the Law School, graduate business and Graduate School ceremonies will take place May 17.

Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford and chair of the BBC trust, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Other honorary degree recipients are:

W. Douglas Ford

W. Douglas Ford (doctor of engineering) — A Notre Dame alumnus, parent, Fellow and Trustee, Ford is a retired oil industry executive and generous philanthropist. A Danvers, Mass., native, he studied chemical engineering and earned his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame in 1966 and master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University. He ascended the management ranks during his 30-year career at Amoco to become executive vice president before it merged with British Petroleum in 1998. The next year, BP named him chief executive of refining and marketing, accountable for refining, marketing and transportation. He is also a member of the board of directors of USG Corp., Air Products and Chemicals Corp. and Suncor Corp. Before his election to Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, he served on the Advisory Council for Graduate Studies and Research. His benefaction created the University’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity to address the challenges of those living in extreme poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.


Ray Hammond

Ray Hammond (doctor of humane letters) — A Harvard-trained surgeon and urban community leader, Hammond is the founder and pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston. Raised in Philadelphia, he earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard at a young age and established a career in medicine before accepting the call to the preaching ministry in 1976. He and his wife, Gloria, also a doctor, co-founded Bethel A.M.E. in 1988 in their dining room and quickly became leaders in youth and community outreach. His many leadership positions include former chairman of the Boston Foundation and founder and chairman of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders behind Boston’s successful efforts to quell gang violence in the 1990s. He has written papers and articles on a range of topics from academic achievement and diversity to violence prevention and health care.


Evelyn Hu

Evelyn Hu (doctor of engineering) — A pioneer in the field of nanoscale electronic and photonic devices, Hu is a professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Harvard University. Born in New York City, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. After working at AT&T’s Bell Laboratory for a decade, she began her academic career at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1984. Her groundbreaking work in nanofabrication includes integrating various materials to make heterostructure compound semiconductors to optimize different device behavior, as well as high-resolution patterning of circuits on the nanoscale materials used in everything from electronic devices to quantum computing. She has also led the transformation of her research into product creation in her roles as co-director of the California Nanosystems Institute and co-founder of Cambrios and Siluria, startup companies developing new materials for electronic devices and energy applications. She joined the Harvard faculty in 2009.


Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison (doctor of fine arts) — A world-renowned dancer and choreographer, Jamison is the artistic director emerita of the historic Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which she led for 21 years. After she joined the company in 1965, Ailey created many of his most enduring roles for her, including the solo tour-de-force “Cry.” Over the next two decades, she also appeared with ballet companies worldwide, starred in a Broadway musical and formed her own dance company. In 1989, she succeeded Ailey in leading the company that a Congressional resolution called “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world,” blending the African-American cultural heritage with modern American dance. Over the next two decades, she led the company to new heights, including international tours, a permanent home in Manhattan and a 50th anniversary celebration. She recently became the 50th inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Dance Museum.


Sally Mason

Sally Mason (doctor of laws) — A cell and developmental biologist and distinguished leader in higher education, Mason is the 20th president of the University of Iowa. The first child in her family to attend college, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, master’s degree from Purdue University and doctoral degree from the University of Arizona. Her research interests have focused on the developmental biology, genetics and biochemistry of pigment cells. She began her academic career at University of Kansas and became dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences there in 1995. Six years later, she became the provost of Purdue before her appointment at Iowa in 2007. As president, she has spearheaded a sustainable university initiative, started a student success initiative that has increased enrollment and retention, and successfully advocated for the first tuition freeze in 30 years. Throughout her career, she has served on numerous regional and national boards related to higher education.


Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. (c) George Martell - Pilot New Media

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap. (doctor of laws) — Cardinal O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, is a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, known for their commitment to simplicity and care for the poor. He earned his undergraduate degree from Capuchin College in Washington, D.C., and his master’s and doctoral degrees from The Catholic University of America, where he later served as a faculty member. He has spent a considerable portion of his pastoral career ministering in Latin America, the Caribbean, and among Latino and Haitian immigrants to the United States. During the course of his ministry in Washington, D.C. in the 1970’s, the Cardinal founded the Centro Catolico Hispano, the Spanish Catholic Center, providing a wide array of services for immigrants arriving in the Washington area. He was named a bishop in 1984, first assigned to the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and was later named the Bishop of the Diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts and then the Diocese of Palm Beach in Florida. Pope John Paul II appointed him the archbishop of Boston in 2003. Cardinal O’Malley also serves as the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. In 2013, Pope Francis appointed him to a council of eight cardinals charged with the task of assisting the Holy Father with the governance of the Catholic Church, and in the spring of this year appointed him to the newly established Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Originally published by Brendan O’Shaughnessy at on March 31, 2014.