Notre Dame to award eight honorary degrees at Commencement

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Seven distinguished figures in academia, business, athletics, engineering, law and philanthropy will join principal speaker President Barack Obama as honorary degree recipients at the University of Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. May 17 (Sunday) in the Joyce Center arena.

President Obama will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Other honorary degree recipients are:

Steven Beering

Steven Beering (doctor of laws) – The president emeritus of Purdue University, Beering is the current chair of the National Science Board, the governing board of the National Science Foundation. Before becoming president of Purdue in 1983, he spent a decade as dean of medicine and director of the Indiana University Medical Center. He retired from the Purdue presidency in 2000 and holds appointments as a professor of medicine at Indiana University and professor of pharmacology at Purdue. He earned his bachelor’s and M.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and has held numerous national offices, including the chairmanship of the Association of Medical Colleges and the Association of American Universities. He is a former regent of the National Library of Medicine.

Myles Brand

Myles Brand (doctor of laws) – The president of the NCAA since 2003, Brand previously served as president of Indiana University from 1994 to 2002 and as president of the University of Oregon from 1989 to 1994. Trained as a philosopher, he has studied the nature of human action with a focus on intention, desire, belief and other cognitive states, as well as deliberation and practical reasons, planning and general goal-directed activity. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his doctorate from the University of Rochester. He began his academic career at the University of Pittsburgh and also has served on the faculties and in administrative positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Arizona and Ohio State University. His service to the academy includes membership on the boards of the Association of American Universities (as chair), American Council on Education and National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. He revealed in January that he is battling pancreatic cancer.

Fritz L. Duda

Fritz L. Duda (doctor of laws) – A member of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees since 1997, Duda is chief executive officer of Genus Holdings Ltd., a Dallas-based investment company, and the owner and founder of the Fritz Duda Company, a privately held real estate development and investment firm. He is a graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law. Prior to his election to Notre Dame’s Board, he served for six years on the Advisory Council for the University’s School of Architecture. He has provided significant leadership on the Board as chair of the Facilities and Campus Planning Committee, overseeing many important projects, including the development of a comprehensive long-term plan for the Notre Dame campus, the initiative to close Juniper Road, the development of Irish Green, and the return to a collegiate gothic theme for new buildings. He also has provided leadership and guidance to the University on the Eddy Street Commons project and campus-community relations in the Northeast Neighborhood. As chair of the Board’s International Facilities Committee, he has led efforts to establish a larger presence for Notre Dame in Italy and to secure the future of the University’s London facility. In addition, he and his wife, Mary Lee, have been generous benefactors to the University.

Patrick Finneran

Patrick Finneran (doctor of engineering) – Finneran is vice president of program management and business excellence for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, leading company-wide efforts to achieve peak performance. He joined Boeing in 1987 following a 20-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, including combat service in Vietnam, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He has led every military aircraft program at Boeing’s St. Louis site. Finneran earned a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame and master’s degree from East Carolina University. He is chairman of Notre Dame’s Advisory Council for Graduate Studies and Research.

Cindy Parseghian

Cindy Parseghian (doctor of science) – A 1977 Notre Dame graduate, Cindy Parseghian serves on the University’s College of Science Advisory Council. Along with her husband, Michael, she is co-founder of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which they started in 1994 in an effort to find a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a rare and fatal genetic disorder that struck three of their four children. The foundation is named in honor of the children’s grandfather and Notre Dame’s legendary football coach. Cindy is president of the foundation, which has raised more than $33 million to help scientists identify the gene responsible for the disease and develop therapies to help the children affected.

Don Michael Randel

Don Michael Randel (doctor of laws) — President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation since 2006, Randel is a prolific and internationally prominent historian of music. He specializes in music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance but has written and lectured on topics ranging from Arabic music theory and Latin American popular music to medieval liturgical chant and 15th century French music and poetry. He also is editor of the Harvard Dictionary of Music, the Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music and the Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He taught for 32 years at Cornell University, serving as dean of the university’s college of arts and letters and for five years as its provost before becoming president of the University of Chicago in 2000. At Chicago, he led a $2 billion fund-raising campaign, the largest in the university’s history.

Randall T. Shepard

Randall T. Shepard (doctor of laws) – Appointed to the Indiana Supreme Court in 1985, Shepard has served as the chief justice since 1987. Under his leadership, the Indiana Supreme Court has undergone dramatic improvements, including successfully breaking down the language barriers in the courts, creating an atmosphere of accountability for judges, and educating the public about the judiciary’s role in society. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts recently appointed Shepard to the U.S. Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. A native of Evansville, Ind., Shepard was graduated from Princeton University and Yale Law School. He also earned a master of laws degree from the University of Virginia. He was judge of the Vanderburgh Superior Court from 1980 until his appointment to the Supreme Court and previously served as executive assistant to the mayor of Evansville and as a special assistant in the U.S. Department of Transportation.