Women Who Received Honorary Degrees in 2011 From the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities

WIAReport has compiled a list of women who have received honorary degrees from a group of the nation’s highest-ranked universities during the recent spring commencement season. All told, these universities presented 38 honorary degrees to women. Judith Jamison and Lisa Randell each were awarded two honorary degrees from this group of top research institutions.

Brown University and the University of Notre led all the top research universities by awarding four honorary degrees each to women. Dartmouth, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania all awarded honorary degrees to three women.

Here is a list of the honorands:

Katie King Crowley, Arianna Huffington, Lynn Ida Nottage, and Lisa Randell

Brown University

Katie King Crowley, a graduate of Brown University, is the women’s hockey coach at Boston College.

Arianna Huffington is a syndicated columnist, political pundit, and founder of the popular news Web site, The Huffington Post.

Lynn Ida Nottage, a 1986 Brown graduate, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Lisa Randell is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science in the department of physics at Harvard University.

Eleanor Jackson Piel and Joan A. Steitz

Columbia University

Eleanor Jackson Piel was the only woman in her class when she graduated from Columbia Law School in 1943. She is still practicing law today.

Joan A. Steitz is Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale School of Medicine. In 1963, she was the only woman to begin graduate studies in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard.

Roz Chast, Elouise Cobell, and Ruby Dee

Dartmouth College

Roz Chast is an accomplished cartoonist. More than 1,000 of her cartoons have been published in The New Yorker.

Elouise Cobell is executive director of the Native American Community Development Corporation. Her work has led to the reform of the U.S. government’s management of Individual Indian Trust Assets.

Ruby Dee is an actress who has appeared on stage, screen, and television. She has been presented with the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rita Dove and Lisa Randall

Duke University

Rita Dove, former poet laureate of the United States, is the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Lisa Randall is the first woman theoretical physicist to be a tenured professor at Harvard University.

Janet Napolitano and Martha Nussbaum

Emory University

Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, is the third secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Martha Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago Law School.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ruther Bader Ginsburg, and Rosalind E. Krause

Harvard University

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is president of the African nation, Liberia.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Rosalind E. Krause is University Professor of Art History at Columbia University in New York City.

Barbara H. Liskov and Judith Jamison

Northwestern University

Barbara H. Liskov is Institute Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Judith Jamison is the artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.

Susan Desmond-Hellman and Judith Jamison

Princeton University

Susan Desmond-Hellman is chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco. Previously, she was president of product development at Genentech Inc.

Judith Jamison is a dancer, choreographer, and actress who enrolled at Fisk University at the age of 15.

Jamaica Kincaid and Pamela Omidya

Tufts University

Jamaica Kincaid is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction. She is currently a professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.

Pamela Omidya is a social justice advocate and founder of Humanity United.

Meemann Chang and Sofia Gubaidulina

University of Chicago

Meemann Chang is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is a past president of the International Paleontological Association.

Sofia Gubaidulina is a world renowned composer perhaps best known for her 1980 violin concerto, the Offertorium.

Mary Sue Coleman


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Mary Sue Coleman, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, is president of the University of Michigan.

Shirin Ebadi, Huguette Labelle, Jacqueline Novogratz, and Mary Beth O'Brien

University of Notre Dame

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, a human rights activist, and the founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

Huguette Labelle is the chancellor of the University of Ottawa and chair of the board of Transparency International.

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and chief executive officer of the Acumen Fund.

Mary Beth O’Brien has dedicated her time and talent to working with the Ladies of Charity USA.

Renee C. Fox, Sheryl WuDunn, and Joyce Carol Oates

University of Pennsylvania

Renee C. Fox is the Annenberg Professor Emerita of the Social Sciences at Penn and a pioneer in medical sociology.

Sheryl WuDunn is senior managing director of Mid-Market Securities and president of the social investing consultancy Triple Edge.

Joyce Carol Oates is an award-winning author, poet and playwright and the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University.

Ann E. Dunwoody

University of Southern California

Ann E. Dunwoody is commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the first female in U.S. military history to achieve four-star rank.

Indra K. Nooyi and Rebecca S. Chopp

Wake Forest University

Indra K. Nooyi is the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.

Rebecca S. Chopp is the president of Swarthmore College, the highly rated liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.

Shirley Ann Jackson

Washington University

Shirley Ann Jackson, former chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Joan Didion and Janet D. Rowley

Yale University

Joan Didion is a distinguished and prolific writer with a celebrated career as a columnist, essayist, and novelist.

Janet D. Rowley is a physician, medical researcher, and the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

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