Washington University in St. Louis will award six honorary degrees during the university’s graduation ceremonies, May 20-21.
The university will also award academic degrees to approximately 3,200 members of the Class of 2021 during its 160th start.
Great advocate of social justice for the National Basketball Association Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will make the opening speech and receive an honorary doctorate in humanities.
The other recipients of honorary degrees and their diplomas are:
- Christopher S. “Kit” Bond, the former United States senator who has earned a reputation over his 40 years of distinguished public service as a skilled statesman capable of building coalitions and working effectively beyond party lines, a doctor of law;
- Richard H. Helmholz, Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, a distinguished law and history scholar specializing in medieval and early modern law, a doctor of law;
- Gerda Weissmann Klein, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Holocaust survivor who dedicated her life to fighting racism and intolerance and promoting education on the Holocaust and human rights, a doctor of humanities;
- Stuart A. Kornfeld, MD, David C. and Betty Farrell Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a renowned physician-scientist, doctor of science; and
- Shannon Watts, founder of the largest grassroots group in the country that fights against armed violence, Moms Demands Action for Gun Sense in America, a doctor in humanities.
With limited meeting and crowd size because of COVID-19, the university will host eight smaller face-to-face ceremonies at Francis’ Olympic Field in place of the traditional university-wide graduation ceremony. There will be a maximum of 500 graduates at each ceremony, with two guests per graduate.
Due to the need to limit the number of participants, recipients of the honorary diploma will be recognized virtually.
“We really do have a notable ‘class’ of honorary diploma recipients who have made outstanding contributions to a better society and made impactful changes,” said Chancellor Andrew D. Martin.
“In their important work, they exemplified the mission of Washington University to improve lives in the service of a greater good, and I am pleased that we are able to recognize them in this way.”
Honorary diploma recipients
Considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Abdul-Jabbar he is also a humanitarian, a prolific author and an advocate of racial justice and social change.
The 2.10m basketball Hall of Fame is famous for its trademark skyhook pitch and has dominated the NBA for 20 years with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a record six times the NBA’s most valuable player, a record 19 times the NBA All-Star and a member of six NBA championship teams. He remains the NBA’s top scorer of all time, with 38,387 points.
But, as Abdul-Jabbar said of himself: “I can do more than stick a ball in the ring; my greatest asset is my mind. ”Abdul-Jabbar, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s largest civilian tribute, spent his life fighting injustices such as systemic racism and disparities in health, education and employment.
He founded and serves since 2009 as president of the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is “to give children a chance that cannot be blocked” by bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities to underprivileged communities in Los Angeles.
Author of the New York Times bestseller, he wrote 16 books, including two memoirs. He received the 2012 NAACP award for the children’s book “What Color Is My World? The lost history of African-American inventors. “
After 50 years as an athlete and activist, he offers his perspectives as a nationally recognized speaker who regularly appears on the lecture circuit. Collaborating columnist for newspapers and magazines around the world, he has been named Columnist of the Year at the Southern California Journalism Awards for the past five years.
Before his election to the US Senate in 1985, Connection served as an auditor for the state of Missouri and two terms as governor of Missouri.
He maintained his bond with WashU, serving on the National School of Law Council, now known as the Advisory Council, since 1995 and as a supporter of scholarships. He also served on the National Council of University Libraries from 1986-1994.
Author or editor of more than two dozen books published in French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as in English, and dozens of journal articles, Helmholz is widely known for his research on the influence of canon law on customary law.
His teaching interests are centered on property law and various aspects of natural resources law. He teaches courses on property, history of European law and oil and gas law.
His research interests focus on the history of law, where his main contribution has been to show the relevance of Roman and canon laws for the development of customary law.
When Klein received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, then President Barack Obama said of her: “As an author, historian and advocate of tolerance, she taught the world that it is often in our most desperate moments that we discover the extent of our strength and depth of our love. “
Klein, who endured unimaginable atrocities for six years under the Nazi regime, dedicated his life to fighting racism and intolerance and promoting education on the Holocaust and human rights.
Klein was among the 120 people who survived a 350-mile death march and were released by US Army soldiers on May 7, 1945. Kurt Klein, a US Army intelligence officer and a refugee from Nazi Germany himself , was the first to meet Gerda and the other survivors, and his love story began at that moment. They were married for 56 years, until his death in 2002.
Klein’s memoir, “All But My Life”, has been in print since 1957 and is used in schools and colleges around the world. It served as the basis for the film “One Survivor Remembers”, which received an Oscar and an Emmy and was selected by the Library of Congress to enter the National Film Registry.
In 2008, Klein founded Citizenship Counts, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate elementary and high school students about the principles of citizenship, encourage them to value their rights and responsibilities as Americans and give them the opportunity to celebrate citizenship by participating in or hosting a naturalization ceremony.
Kornfeld it is best known for developing the field of glycoprotein research – the study of how sugars bind to proteins and the roles these molecules play in the functioning of cells.