In 2013, Women Earned 42 Percent of the Ivy League’s Honorary Degrees

Women have made tremendous strides in higher education. But when awards are given out, sometimes women remain less recognized than men. The eight Ivy League universities gave out 52 honorary degrees this commencement season. (Cornell chooses not to award honorary degrees but the seven other Ivies do.) Of the 52 honorary degrees awarded this year at Ivy League schools, 22, or slightly more than 42 percent, went to women.

Here is a list of women honorees at the Ivy League colleges. Click on their photos to enlarge them.

Beverly Wade Hogan and Risa Lavisso-Mourey

Brown University

  • Beverly Wade Hogan is the president of Tougaloo College, a historically Black educational institution in Mississippi.
  • Risa Lavisso-Mourey is the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Florence Irving and Zena A. SteinColumbia University

  • Florence Irving along with her husband Herbert Irving have been longtime supporters of the Columbia University Medical Center. Herbert Irving is a co-founder of the food distribution company Sysco Corporation. Florence Irving is a trustee emerita of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Zena A. Stein is professor emerita at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia. She joined the faculty at the university in 1965. Her research has focused on mental retardation, child development, prenatal nutrition, and prenatal and perinatal HIV infection.

Susan Desmond-Hellman, Judith Jamison, and Alanis ObomsawinDartmouth College

  • Susan Desmond-Hellman is chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco. Before taking her current post, she was an executive at Genetech.
  • Judith Jamison is the artistic director emerita at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
  • Alanis Obomsawin is a Canadian filmmaker, singer, and social activist. She is a member of the Abenaki Nation. Her latest film documentary is The People of the Kattawapisak River.

Elaine Pagels, JoAnne Stubbe, and Oprah WinfreyHarvard College

  • Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Her 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels (Random House) won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent book is Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (Viking, 2012).
  • JoAnne Stubbe is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and professor of biology at the Masschusetts Institute of Technology. She has served on the MIT faculty since 1987 and is a winner of the National Medal of Science.
  • Oprah Winfrey is a television personality, producer, and philanthropist and CEO of the OWN cable television network.

Lorraine Daston, Toni Morrison, Sakena Yacoobi, and Shirley M. TilghmanPrinceton University

  • Lorraine Daston is the executive director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. She is a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 1995)
  • Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emerita at Princeton University. A Nobel laureate in literature, she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved. Her latest book is entitled, Home (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012).
  • Sakena Yacoobi is the executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning, a women-led nongovernmental organization she founded in 1995. In 2011, she received the National Peace Award from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
  • Shirley M. Tilghman is the president of Princeton University. She has served in that role since 2001 and is stepping down this month to return to the faculty.

Ursula M. Burns, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Ellen Mosley-ThompsonUniversity of Pennsylvania

  • Ursula M. Burns is CEO of Xerox Corporation. She was the first African American women to be named CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance in Nigeria. She is the former managing director of The World Bank. She is a graduate of Harvard College and holds a Ph.D. in economics from MIT.
  • Ellen Mosley-Thompson is a Distinguished University Professor of Geography at Ohio State University and is the director of the Byrd Polar Research Center. She uses ice core samples from glaciers to document the earth’s climate changes.

Elizabeth A. Clark, Edwidge Danticat, Natalie Zemon Davis, Esther Duflo, and Sonia Sotomayor Yale University

  • Elizabeth A. Clark is the John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Religion and Professor of History at Duke University. She is a scholar of late antiquity and early Christian history. Her most recent book is, Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Protestant Professors in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).
  • Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-born author who has taught creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami. Among her many books are The Farming of Bones (Soho Press, 2003) and Brother, I’m Dying (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007.
  • Natalie Zemon Davis is adjunct professor of history and medieval studies at the University of Toronto and the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita at Princeton University. She is the author of several books including The Return of Martin Guerre (Harvard University Press, 1983).
  • Esther Duflo is the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a founder and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Laboratory at MIT. She is the co-author of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (PublicAffairs, 2011).
  • Sonia Sotomayor is the 111th justice of the United States Supreme Court. She is the first Hispanic and the third of four women to serve on the nation’s highest court in its 223-year history. She recently published a memoir, My Beloved World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013).

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