President Richard Brodhead announced the degrees on Wednesday, which will be given to Carolyn Bertozzi, Erskine Bowles, Susan Hockfield, Walter Isaacson and Dr. Delano Meriwether. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Graduate School '84 and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief military adviser to President Barack Obama, will speak at this year's commencement ceremony.
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, an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and senior faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Her work focuses on imaging and developing biotherapeutics for molecular changes associated with cancer and bacterial infections.
Bowles, who served as the White House chief of staff during Bill Clinton's presidency and as president of The University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, now serves as co-chair to President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. He also sits on the Board of Trustees for The Duke Endowment.
Hockfield, previously the first female president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, now works as a professor of neuroscience at MIT. She spent two decades at Yale University as a faculty member, dean of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and eventually provost.
Isaacson is a journalist and biographer who previously worked at TIME and has been the chairman and CEO of CNN. He also served as chair of Teach for America for 10 years.
Meriwether, Medicine '67, was the first black American to be accepted into the School of Medicine. He co-founded the Dr. W.D. and N. Meriwether Foundation, which aims to improve health, empower communities and alleviate poverty in Southeast African countries, serving more than 23,000 people.
"I'm delighted that Duke will have the honor of presenting honorary degrees to these distinguished individuals," Broadhead said in a Duke News press release. "As they hear how these men and women have used their education to make extraordinary contributions to our times, our graduates will see a world of possibilities lighting up before them."