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John Harvard's Journal

Honoris Causa

July-August 2017

Six men and four women received honorary degrees at Commencement. University provost Alan M. Garber introduced the honorands in the following order, and President Drew Faust read the citations (two, fittingly, in iambic pentameter). For fuller background on each, see

Hawa Abdi Diblawe
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Hawa Abdi Diblawe. A physician humanitarian who has sheltered and cared for tens of thousands of refugees in her war-torn country, Somalia. Doctor of Laws: Confronting the ravages of war and famine, offering succor to those in dire need, she fearlessly faces the forces of darkness and keeps aflame the light of hope.

Walter E. Massey. Past director of the National Science Foundation, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of his alma mater, Morehouse College, now chancellor of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Doctor of Laws: Traversing two cultures as an academic leader, advancing useful knowledge as a citizen of science, a splendid mentor always poised to open doors for others, a model man of Morehouse—steadfast, honest, true.

Michael O. Rabin
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Michael O. Rabin. Pioneering computer scientist, Harvard’s Thomas J. Watson Sr. Research Professor of computer science, winner of the Turing Award. Doctor of Science: Prime aficionado of algorithms and automata, high-capacity hard drive of Harvard computer science, whose impact is as incalculable as his cryptosystems are uncrackable.

Dame Judi Dench
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Dame Judi Dench. Winner of eight Olivier Awards for outstanding acting on the British stage—more than anyone—and 10 awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Doctor of Arts: With fair Titania’s powers of enchantment and Cleopatra’s plenitude of charms, a venerated queen of screen and theater with whom we feel a fond familial bond.

Norman R. Augustine
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Norman R. Augustine. Past chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, a global leader in aerospace and technology, chair of a National Academies commission that advocated support for basic research, and a trustee at Princeton, MIT, the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins. Doctor of Laws: Energized by the promise of the endless frontier, devoted to science in the nation’s service, a tiger of industry with a zest for adventure; be it ideas or rockets, he has an eye for what will fly.

John Towner Williams. The composer of music for more than 100 movies, who has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any living being, terrestrial or extra-. Doctor of Music: The Superman of music for the movies whose scores of scores propel great stories skyward; his melodies dwell deep inside our memories, his harmonies induce our hearts to soar.

Sandra Mortola Gilbert. Poet and pioneering feminist literary critic, co-author of The Madwoman in the Attic and the three-volume No Man’s Land,on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, respectively. Doctor of Laws: Casting novel light where shadows shrouded women’s writing, crafting poignant poems that both inspirit and enlighten, a pioneer of feminist studies for whom the personal is the political as well as the poetical.

Huda Y. Zoghbi. A medical researcher who has discovered the gene associated with Rett syndrome and teased out clues to autism, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Doctor of Science: From dauntless young woman who never lost nerve to eminent expert on the nervous system’s workings, she patiently translates the language of life so that patients might realize the promise of life.

James Earl Jones
Photograph by Steve Senne/Associated Press

James Earl Jones. Renowned actor on stage and screen, winner of the National Medal of Arts and lifetime awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Doctor of Arts: An actor of inimitable power whose roles bespeak his singular resources; when he a round unvarnish’d tale delivers, there’s never any doubt with whom the force is.

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg. CEO of Facebook and, with his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan ’07, founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, addressing disease, education, community, and opportunity worldwide. Doctor of Laws: Genitor maximus Libri Facierum [“Great creator of the book of faces”]; from a whiteboard in Kirkland House to One Hacker Way, he has forged a transformation through the power of connection and set his sights on how bold new ideas can serve the world.

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(1 of 9) Bright-red clackers helped public-health degree candidates promote hand-washing.

Photograph by Jim Harrison

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