Notre Dame to award 7 honorary degrees at Commencement

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Six distinguished figures in community leadership, the Catholic Church, education, engineering and science will join principal speaker Oxford Chancellor Christopher Patten as honorary degree recipients at the University of Notre Dame’s 170th University Commencement Ceremony on May 17 (Sunday).

Patten will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. The other honorary degree recipients are:

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, doctor of laws

Freeman A. Hrabowski III

The president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Hrabowski is a mathematician who has led UMBC since 1992. He was born in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, and, as a 12-year old, experienced some of the most turbulent and dangerous events of the civil rights struggle. He was spat upon by Birmingham’s infamous Eugene “Bull” Connor and incarcerated for nearly a week in the city jail. His story was featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary film, “4 Little Girls,” on the bombing in 1963 of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church. The author of numerous articles and co-author of two books, “Beating the Odds” and “Overcoming the Odds,” Hrabowski also is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities and school systems. His latest book, “Holding Fast to Dreams," relates how his experiences with the civil rights movement led him to develop programs promoting educational success in science and technology for African-Americans and others. He was named by President Barack Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

John E. Kelly III, doctor of engineering

John E. Kelly III

The senior vice president, solutions portfolio and research for IBM, Kelly earned his bachelor’s degree from Union College, and his master’s degree in physics and doctoral degree in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Joining IBM in 1980, he held numerous executive, management and technical positions related to the development and manufacturing of advanced semiconductor technologies. He spent seven years as senior vice president and director of IBM Research, leading a network of some 3,000 scientists and technical employees across 12 laboratories on six continents. He now focuses on the company’s investments in several of the fastest-growing and most strategic parts of the information technology market, including IBM Analytics, IBM Commerce, IBM Security and IBM Watson, as well as IBM Research and the company’s intellectual property team. Kelly is a member of the National Academy of Engineers, Fellow of the IEEE and recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees. He has been actively engaged in several initiatives of Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, and was instrumental in the redesign of the semiconductor processing and device fabrication clean room in Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering.

Jane McAuliffe, doctor of laws

Jane McAuliffe

A scholar of the Qur’an and early Islamic history, and director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, McAuliffe served as president of Bryn Mawr College from 2008 to 2013 and as dean of Georgetown College at Georgetown University from 1999 to 2008. A national and international participant in Muslim-Christian dialogue, she has been a member of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims and of Building Bridges, an international dialogue initiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. She is general editor of the six-volume Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, past president of the American Academy of Religion, a former Guggenheim fellow and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Philosophical Society.

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, doctor of science

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

Quiñones-Hinojosa is a professor of neurosurgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and director of its brain tumor surgery program. “Dr. Q.,” as he is known by his patients, was born in a small village outside of Mexicali and crossed the border fence between Mexico and California in 1987. Only 19 years old and unable to speak English, he worked as a migrant farm hand in the Fresno, California, area and saved enough money to take English classes. Beginning his college education at the San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California, he graduated with highest honors in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn a medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where he graduated summa cum laude. During his educational career, he also became a U.S. citizen. Quiñones conducts extensive research on the role of stem cells in the origin of brain tumors and their potential for fighting brain cancer and regaining neurological function. In addition to the hundreds of articles he has written and two books he has edited on these subjects, he is the author of an autobiography, “Becoming Dr. Q.”

Shirley Welsh Ryan, doctor of laws

Shirley Ryan

A University of Notre Dame trustee emerita and graduate of Northwestern University, Ryan’s work promotes fullest inclusion and accessibility for all people. Ryan Hall at Notre Dame is named after her and her son Corbett, a 2005 Notre Dame graduate. Her work to advance the brain’s capacity to learn has been recognized by two U.S. presidents with appointments to the National Council on Disability, the source of the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with other civic appointments. In 1985, she co-founded, an online resource with a state-of-the-art pediatric therapy clinic, which teaches early childhood physical, sensory and communication development. She is a trustee for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, WTTW-PBS and the Alain Locke Charter Academy. She has served on the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees and as chair of the Chicago Community Trust, and founded the Women’s Board of the Lincoln Park Zoo. She and her husband, Patrick, support a focus in education and health care that includes named education centers at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago along with scholarships, fellowships and facilities at Northwestern University. Ryan holds honorary doctorates from the University of Illinois Chicago and the Catholic Theological Union.

Rev. Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P., doctor of laws

Rev. Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P.

The rector emeritus of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute — a Jerusalem-based center of theological scholarship and learning that was founded 50 years ago by Pope Paul VI and is administered by Notre Dame — Father Stransky has spent his ministry as a Paulist priest in the service of unity amongst Christians and believers of other faiths. As a young staff member of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, he was highly instrumental in the writing of one of the Second Vatican Council’s most crucial documents, the 1965 Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, also known as Nostra Aetate. Having also served as president of the Paulist Fathers, Father Stransky continues to write and lecture on ecumenical and interreligious relations.

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on April 06, 2015.