Honoris Causa

Onora S. O’Neill
Richard Serra
Thomas R. Cech
Renée C. Fox
Freeman A. Hrabowski III
Susan L. Lindquist
Thomas Nagel
David G. Nathan
Meryl Streep
The Honorable David H. Souter

Six men and four women received honorary degrees at Commencement. Provost Steven E. Hyman introduced the honorands, and President Drew Faust read the citations, in the order below.


Onora S. O’Neill, Ph.D. ’69. A life peer in the British House of Lords, past president of the British Academy, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, she is a leading figure in bioethics. Doctor of Laws: Adroit in the public use of reason, acute in thinking beyond borders, she deftly expounds the bounds of justice and casts fresh light on the question of trust. 


Richard Serra. The son of a pipefitter and a former steel-mill worker himself, the sculptor is internationally known for his immense, site-specific works made of curved walls or heavy slabs of steel. Doctor of Arts: A formidable man of steel, whose sublime creations unsettle and allure, he has knocked sculpture off its pedestal and forged a new interplay of viewer and viewed.


Thomas R. Cech. Co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for his discovery that RNA can catalyze reactions in cells, he has long been based at the University of Colorado and recently directed the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Doctor of Science: Boulder’s boldest investigator, Hughes’s generative guide, a master biochemist whose discovery of ribozymes has deepened our appreciation for the splice of life.


Renée C . Fox, Ph.D. ’54. The Annenberg professor emerita of the social sciences at the University of Pennsylvania has pioneered explorations of the sociology of medical practice and biomedical research. Doctor of Laws. Exemplary expositor of medicine’s moral conundrums, she reveals the pulsating reality of human relations in the quest of physicians to do good and no harm.


Freeman A. Hrabowski III. President since 1992 of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he has galvanized efforts to attract minorities into math and science. Doctor of Laws: Galvanic force in his university’s ascent, spurring success against the odds, a leader whose wellspring of energy and insight has plenished pools of talent in science and beyond.


Susan L. Lindquist, Ph.D. ’77. The former director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a professor of biology at MIT, she is a leading investigator of protein folding. Doctor of Science: In-genious in illumining molecular marvels, intent on alleviating degenerative diseases, she unfolds nature’s secrets by unveiling the origami of life.


Thomas Nagel, Ph.D. ’63. A University Professor at NYU, the philosopher is an influential critic of reductionist thinking who has explored the essential tension between the objective and the subjective. Doctor of Laws: Ranging wide across realms of philosophy, delving deep into consciousness and ethics, a perspicacious reader of other minds who helps us understand what we may never understand.


David G. Nathan ’51, M.D. ’55. The former physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital and president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has advanced understanding of blood disorders and mentored generations of physicians and researchers. Doctor of Science: Wise in the ways of blood, compassionate in the care of children, savvy in the guidance of individuals and institutions, devoted to preserving the finest traditions of his calling.


Meryl Streep. The most-nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, she has inhabited an astonishing variety of unforgettable roles. Doctor of Arts: From Sophie to Silkwood, Miss Julie to Julia Child, an actress of luminous intensity and infinite variety whose transcendent performances richly merit this acade-my’s award.


The Honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66. The recently retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, recognized by President Barack Obama, J.D. ’91, for his “integrity, equanimity, and compassion.” Doctor of Laws: Even-handed, even-tempered, ever attentive to the facts of the case, a model of modesty and moderation in society’s service, whose independent spirit and intellectual rigor have balanced the scales of justice. 


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