The independent news organization of Duke University

Meet the 2021 commencement ceremony honorary degree recipients

<p>Graduates of the Pratt School of Engineering celebrate as their degrees are confirmed.&nbsp;</p>

Graduates of the Pratt School of Engineering celebrate as their degrees are confirmed. 

President Vincent Price will be presenting honorary degrees to singer, songwriter and philanthropist John Legend as well as four others during the 2021 commencement ceremony.

Barbara Arnwine

Arnwine is a prominent civil and human rights activist. She is the president and founder of Transformative Justice Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting civil rights related to policing reform, voting rights, African-American women and youth. Arnwine was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 as well as the reauthorization of part of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. 

She received her bachelor of arts from Scripple College and her J.D. from Duke’s School of Law, where she was one of the first female African American students. In 1994, she served on the Duke Law School Board of Visitors, where she is now an honorary life member. In 2011, she received the school’s Charles S. Murphy Award for her dedication to the common good. 

Arnwine helped create the Election Protection Program, which works to ensure equal voting rights, as well as the Map of Shame of Voter Suppression, which showed areas across the U.S. where voter suppression legislation had been enacted. She is co-chair and facilitator of the National Commission for Voter Justice, Millennial Votes Matters Convenings and the Voting Rights Alliance. 

Jacquelyn Campbell 

Campbell, Nursing ‘68, is Anna D. Wolf Chair and a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she is a national expert on research regarding domestic and intimate partner violence. She serves on the Board of Directors for Futures Without Violence and has served on the board of House of Ruth Battered Women’s Shelter as well as other shelters. She received her bachelor of science in nursing from Duke, a master of science in nursing from Wright State University and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Rochester. 

She has been recognized by the Duke School of Nursing with the Contributions to Nursing Science Award, the Outstanding Alumna Award and the Harriet Cook Carter annual lectureship. Campbell was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2000, and she was a member of the congressionally appointed U.S. Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence. 

From 2008 to 2017, Campell was national program director of the Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholars program. She has a daughter and son who both attended Duke: Christina Endrud, Trinity ‘95 and Bradley Campbell, Trinity ‘97. Campbell’s granddaughter Grace Endrud is a first-year at Duke.  

Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Higginbotham is Victor S. Thomas professor of history and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She chaired Harvard’s history department from 2018 to 2020 as the first African American to hold the position. She is the co-author with John Hope Franklin of the classic survey, “From Slavery to Freedom.” She has thoroughly revised the book for its 10th edition. She received the 2014 National Humanities Medal from former president Barack Obama for “illuminating the African American journey.” 

A pioneering scholar of African American women’s history, Higginbotham is known for her conceptualization of “the politics of respectability.” She is national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She held a fellowship at Duke from 2003 to 2004 at the John Hope Franklin Center and taught at Duke Law from 2010 to 2011 as the Visiting John Hope Franklin Professor of American Legal History. 

“Being recognized in this way always feels special, but I am particularly thrilled about coming to Duke for its commencement in 2021 and to be included among such illustrious honorees,” Higginbotham wrote in an email. “I’ve always found Duke to embody a uniquely warm and supportive community—one filled with many opportunities for stimulating intellectual exchange, rich cultural events, and the best of southern hospitality. I cherish the many memories of my time spent here and the friends made here.” 

William K. Reilly

Reilly was the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1989 to 1993. During his time as administrator, he helped pass the landmark Clean Air Act and led the United States delegation to the 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro. He also served for many years as senior advisor to TPG Capital and was the founding partner and CEO of Aqua International Partners. 

He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a doctor of law from Harvard Law School and a master of science in urban planning from Columbia University. He is also the first Payne Visiting Professor at Stanford University. 

From 1970 to 1972, Reilly served as senior staff member at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. During the Obama administration, he served as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, as well as a member of the President’s Global Development Council. 

He is the chair of the board of advisors for Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and he has served as president and later chairman of the board of World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. 

Reilly, Campbell and Arnwine did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

Chris Kuo profile
Chris Kuo

Chris Kuo is a Trinity senior and a staff reporter for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously enterprise editor for Volume 117.


Share and discuss “Meet the 2021 commencement ceremony honorary degree recipients” on social media.