Honorary Degrees Awarded to Women in 2012 at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Universities

This spring the nation’s leading universities awarded 47 honorary degrees to women. In 2011, this same group of universities honored 38 women with honorary degrees.

Brown led all the top research universities in awarding five honorary degrees to women. The University of Southern California and Yale University each awarded four honorary degrees to women. Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University, and Georgetown University awarded three honorary degrees to women. Both Wendy Kopp and Gloria Steinem were awarded honorary degrees from two leading research universities.

(L to R) Top row: Carolyn Bertozzi, Viola Davis, Marilynne Robinson, Diane Sawyer, Ruth Simmons, Renee Fleming, Temple Grandin, and Ruth Gruber. Second row: Michelle Bachelet, Amy Gutmann, Gloria Steinem, Wendy Kopp, Marye Anne Fox, Nancy Brinker, Emmylou Harris, and Camille Billops. Third row: Catherine Stimpson, Ela R. Bhatt, Kayla Henderson, Helen Neville, Gillian Beer, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Rita R. Colwell, and Joan Ganz Cooney. Fourth row: Martha Minow, Aretha Franklin, Joan Wallach Scott, Karen Uhlenbeck, Bonnie L. Bassler, Cecillia Ibeabuchi, Susan Orlean, and Katherine Lee Reid. Fifth row: Haley Scott DeMaria, Carolyn Woo, Ruzena Bajcsy, Anna Deavere Smith, Christine Amanpour, Dana Dornsife, Victoria Hale, and Julie Mork. Bottom row: Elizabeth B. Lacy, Jane Lubchenco ,Margaret Hilary Marshall, Midori, and Angelika Neuwirth.

Here are this year’s honorands from the nation’s highest-ranked universities.

Brown University

Carolyn Bertozzi is the T.Z. and Irmgard Chu Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley.

Viola Davis is an actress of the stage, television, and film. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role in The Help and has won two Tony Awards. A native of South Carolina, Davis grew up in Rhode Island and is a graduate of Rhode Island College.

Marilynne Robinson is a 1966 graduate of Brown University. She has written three highly acclaimed novels: Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004), and Home (2008).

Diane Sawyer is the anchor of World News Tonight on the ABC television network. She has served in broadcast journalism at the network level since 1980.

Ruth Simmons is the outgoing president of Brown University. She has served in that post since 2001. Previously, she was president of Smith College. Dr. Simmons will remain on the Brown University faculty.

Carnegie Mellon University

Renee Fleming is a celebrated soprano who has performed in operas all over the world. She studied music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, the Eastmann School of Music in Rochester, New York, and The Julliard School in New York.

Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Arizona State University and one of the nation’s leading advocates for autism awareness.

Ruth Gruber is a journalist and author who served as foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in the years leading up to World War II. At the age of 20, she earned a Ph.D. from the University of Cologne.

Columbia University

Michelle Bachelet is a pediatrician who served as president of Chile from 2006 to 2010. After leaving office she was appointed head of UN Women.

Amy Gutmann is president of the University of Pennsylvania and also serves as Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Communications, and Philosophy at the university. She previously serves as provost at Princeton University.

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist. In 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine and continues to serve as a consulting editor.

Dartmouth College

Wendy Kopp is the CEO and founder of Teach For America. She is a 1989 graduate of Princeton University.

Marye Anne Fox is chancellor of the University of California at San Diego. She is a graduate of Notre Dame College and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Dartmouth College.

Duke University

Nancy Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the world’s leading organizations involved in breast cancer research and awareness. Susan G. Komen was her sister.

Emmylou Harris is singer/songwriter who has won 12 Grammy Awards.

Emory University

Camille Billops is a celebrated sculptor and printmaker. Together with her husband, she assembled a vast archive of African American cultural materials that they have donated to the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University.

Catherine Stimpson is a University Professor and professor of English at New York University. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Georgetown University

Ela R. Bhatt is the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India.

Kayla Henderson is the chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public school system. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown University.

Helen Neville holds the Robert and Beverly Lewis Endowed Chair and is professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Oregon. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Harvard University

Gillian Beer was a fellow of Girton College at the University of Cambridge for three decades. Later she was King Edward VII professor of English literature and president of Clare Hall College at Cambridge.

Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America, is the author of two books: A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education for All and One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach for American and What I Learned Along the Way.

Johns Hopkins University

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a member of the parliament in Burma and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. As a political prisoner, she served under house arrest for nearly 15 years.

Rita R. Colwell is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and Distinguished Professor of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the former director of the National Science Foundation.

Northwestern University

Joan Ganz Cooney is the founder and current chair of the executive committee of the Children’s Television Workshop, which developed Sesame Street.

Martha Minow is dean and the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor at Harvard Law School.

Princeton University

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, recorded her first album at age 18 and has recorded 223 albums in a career spanning more than 50 years.

Joan Wallach Scott is the Harold F. Linder Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was the founding director of the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University.

Karen Uhlenbeck holds the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been on the faculty at the University of Texas since 1987.

Tufts University

Bonnie L. Bassler is the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use for intercellular communication.

Cecillia Ibeabuchi, a native of Nigeria, is manager of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s busy downtown medical clinic.

University of Michigan

Susan Orlean, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has been a staff writer at The New Yorker for the past 20 years.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Katherine Lee Reid is the former director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts  and the former director of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

University of Notre Dame

Haley Scott DeMaria is an Irish swimmer who made an inspirational comeback from injuries sustained in a team bus accident.

Carolyn Woo is president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services. From 1997 to 2011, she served as the Martin J. Gillen Dean of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

University of Pennsylvania

Ruzena Bajcsy is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Los Angeles. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, author, and playwright who brings together art and social commentary to create a unique form of “documentary theater”.

University of Southern California

Christine Amanpour is the global affairs anchor at ABC News and chief international correspondent for CNN International.

Dana Dornsife is a USC benefactor and international humanitarian. Together with her husband, David, she provided the single-largest gift in the university’s history.

Victoria Hale is a pharmaceuticals scientist and social entrepreneur. She founded Medicines360, a nonprofit company that develops medicine for women and children.

Julie Mork is a philanthropic leader, champion of education, and advocate of youth and visually impaired children.

Wake Forest University

Elizabeth B. Lacy is the first woman to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. She is a graduate of St. Mary’s College and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Washington University

Gloria Steinem, a leading advocate for women’s equality, is the co-founder of the Women’s Media Center.

Yale University

Jane Lubchenco is the first woman to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She is on leave as the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and Distinguished Professor of Zoology at Oregon State University.

Margaret Hilary Marshall served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts from 1999 to 2010.

Midori is one of the world’s great violinists, making her first recording at age 14. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in psychology from New York University.

Angelika Neuwirth, an expert on the Koran, is University Professor and holder of the Chair for Arabic Studies at the Free University of Berlin.

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