Honorary Degrees

2021 Honorary Degree Recipients

The 2021 Honorary Degree Recipients share their thoughts on inspiration, advice, and leadership. 

Honorary Degree Recipients

The university grants honorary degrees during the convocation ceremony each year to recognize “excellence in any valued aspect of human endeavor, including the realm of scholarship, public service, and the performing arts.” (Faculty Handbook, 3, III.X)

Recipients are announced in May prior to the university's commencement ceremonies.  

2021 Honorary Degree Recipients:

Kamoya Kimeu wearing a suit and tie

Kamoya Kimeu
Doctor of Science

Paleontologist and National Museums of Kenya Curator for Prehistoric sites for Kenya, Kamoya Kimeu is a leading figure in origins science. His discoveries have inspired a deeper understanding of humanity’s development. 

Among his numerous fossil discoveries, Kimeu is especially noted for findings that have provided important insights into human ancestry. In Tanzania, his discovery of the Peninj Mandible of Paranthropus boisei shed light on previously unknown hominin diversity and debunked the idea that only one hominin species could exist at the same
time in a single location. Another finding, a 195,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull, proved to be the earliest-known specimen of the human species.

For his contributions to society, National Geographic bestowed its highest honor, the prestigious LaGorce medal, to Kimeu. Then-President Ronald Reagan presented the award to him in 1985. Kimeu is so regarded in the paleontological field, he is the namesake for two fossil primates.

Headshot of Harvey Lodish wearing wire rimmed glasses and a collared shirt.

Harvey F. Lodish
Doctor of Science

Globally renowned molecular and cell biologist Harvey Lodish has had a distinguished career as a professor at MIT and founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Lodish is founder and a scientific advisory board member of several public biotech companies and lead author of the Molecular Cell Biology textbook.

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Science, Lodish’s leadership and expertise has been called upon by numerous organizations. He has held roles as a member on the Board of Trustees of Boston Children's Hospital and chair of the Board Research Committee, former president of the American Society for Cell Biology and founding chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Lodish also has been a dedicated supporter of early-career researchers, having mentored more than 200 PhDs and postdoctoral fellows—including Nobel Prize and Lasker Award winners.

Photo of convocation speaker Marc H. Morial, wearing a suit and smiling

Marc H. Morial
Doctor of Humane Letters

During his two terms as mayor of New Orleans (1994–2002), Marc H. Morial had a transformative effect on the city, reducing crime by 60% and unemployment by 50%. He infused $2 billion into capital improvement projects, sought to build upon the city’s tourism industry and drove up home ownership rates.

Following his term as mayor, Morial went on to lead the National Urban League (NUL) as president and CEO—roles he holds to this day. Morial is credited with creating opportunities for job training, youth development, housing and entrepreneurship.

His leadership of NUL—the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization—has received widespread recognition, and has led to Morial being named one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine and one of the top 50 Nonprofit Executives by The NonProfit Times.


2020 Honorary Degree Recipients:

William F. Baker, PhD
Doctor of Humane Letters

Robert J. Herbold, PhD, MS
Doctor of Humane Letters

Suzanne Elise Walsh, JD, MSSA
Doctor of Humane Letters

2019 Honorary Degree Recipients:

Beth Mooney
Doctor of Humane Letters

David Scadden
Doctor of Science

Peter van Dijk
Doctor of Humane Letters

2018 Honorary Degree Recipients

François-Philippe Champagne
Doctor of Laws

Delos “Toby” Cosgrove
Doctor of Science

Anne S. Pruitt-Logan
Doctor of Humane Letters