The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke to award six honorary degrees at Commencement 2015

Clockwise from top left, honorary degree recipients: David Levin, McCoy Tyner, France Cordova, Rakesh Jain, Renee Fleming, Harold Mooney and Michael Feinberg.
Clockwise from top left, honorary degree recipients: David Levin, McCoy Tyner, France Cordova, Rakesh Jain, Renee Fleming, Harold Mooney and Michael Feinberg.

Duke will confer six honorary degrees at the Class of 2015's commencement ceremony May 10.

The six recipients are National Science Foundation director France Córdova; soprano Renee Fleming; scientist Rakesh Jain; plant ecologist Harold Mooney; jazz pianist McCoy Tyner; and David Levin and Michael Feinberg, co-founders of the KIPP schools. In a Duke News press release, President Richard Brodhead congratulated the recipients and acknowledged their influence on Duke seniors.

"Graduates with their lives and careers before them will be inspired by the achievements and stories of these honorands," Brodhead said in the release.

Half of the recipients this year have scientific backgrounds. In addition to her role in the NSF, Córdova, an astrophysicist, served as the first female chief scientist at NASA. Mooney chaired the U.S. Global Change Committee and co-chaired the science panel of the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, while teaching environmental biology at Stanford University. Jain is a leading scientist in cancer treatment, and is a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

Two of the recipients have backgrounds in music. Tyner, a jazz pianist, is best known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet. Fleming, a soprano classical singer, has sung at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and President Obama's inaugural celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

One of the honorary degrees will be shared by two people—Levin and Feinberg, co-founders of the KIPP schools. KIPP provides low-income students from Houston with a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum.

Honorary degrees are conferred by the Committee on Honorary Degrees Membership, which includes Board of Trustee members and faculty from a variety of departments. Current Duke faculty, employees, and members of the Board of Trustees are not eligible to receive an honorary degree.

Commencement for the Class of 2015 will take place in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park May 10, at 9 a.m and will feature an address by global health leader and Duke Trustee Dr. Paul Farmer, Trinity '82.

A previous version of the graphic with this article misidentified David Levin. The graphic has been updated. The Chronicle regrets the error.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Duke to award six honorary degrees at Commencement 2015” on social media.