Nine distinguished figures to join Immelt as honorary degree recipients

by Dennis Brown

Nine distinguished national and international figures in politics, education, medicine, the arts, humanitarian work and the Catholic Church will join principal speaker Jeffrey Immelt as honorary degree recipients at the University of Notre Dames 162 nd Commencement exercises May 20 (Sunday).

Degrees will be conferred on some 2,100 undergraduates and 690 advanced degree candidates in law and business in ceremonies beginning at 2 p.m. (EDT) in theJoyceCenterarena on campus. For the first time, Notre Dame will hold a separate Commencement ceremony for doctoral and masters degree candidates of theGraduateSchoolat 1 p.m. May 19 (Saturday) in theDeBartoloCenterfor the Performing Arts.

Immelt, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of General Electric Co., will receive an honorary doctor of engineering degree. The other honorees, listed alphabetically, are:

* Valdas Adamkus* (doctor of laws) – The president ofLithuania, Adamkus is serving his second five-year term as leader of the largest of the threeBaltic States. First elected in 1998, he served until 2003, then lost a reelection bid to Rolandas Paksas. After Paksas was impeached, Adamkus ran again and was re-elected in 2004. He is a staunch advocate for democratic government, the environment and human rights. Born inKaunas,Lithuania, he left the country with his parents during World War II and eventually settled inChicago. He earned an engineering degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology and served as an administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency from its inception in 1970 until 1997.Throughout his years in theUnited Stateshe was active in the Lithuanian expatriate community.

* Rev. P. Raniero Cantalamessa* , O.F.M. Cap. (doctor of laws) – A Franciscan Capuchinpriest, Father Cantalamessa has served as the Apostolic Preacher – or preacher of the papal household – since his appointment to the position by Pope John Paul II in 1980. Every Friday in Advent and Lent, he gives a meditation at theVaticanto the pope, cardinals, bishops, prelates and the general superiors of religious orders. A supporter of charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church, he also is the host of a popular weekly television program inItalythat focuses on the Gospel reading of each following Sunday. He earned doctoral degrees in divinity and classical literature and previously served on the faculty of the Catholic University of Milan.

* Archbishop Elias Chacour* (doctor of laws) – A three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Chacour is a Melkite priest who was appointed archbishop of Galilee in February 2006. He was born in 1939 in what was then British Palestine and has been a citizen ofIsraelsince 1948. His life and ministry have focused on peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians and the education of Palestinian youths inIsrael. He founded the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the early 1980s to serve underprivileged Palestinian children. The school today is a beacon of hope in the region, educating 4,500 students – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – from kindergarten to college. He earned a doctorate in ecumenical theology from theUniversityofGenevaand is the author of two books,Blood BrothersandWe Belong to the Land.

* Mary Sue Coleman* (doctor of science) – Appointed the 13 th president of the University of Michigan in 2002, Coleman has advanced initiatives related to student residential life, interdisciplinary studies, ethics in society and health care. She also is one of the nations leading voices on the educational value of affirmative action. Under her leadership, U-M has launched a $2.5 billion capital campaign. Trained as a biochemist, she served on the faculty of theUniversityofKentuckyfor 19 years, building a distinguished career through her research on the immune system and malignancies. She was the president of theUniversityofIowafrom 1995 to 2002 and held administrative appointments at theUniversityofNorth Carolinaand theUniversityofNew Mexico. She will be the principal speaker at Notre Dames Graduate School Commencement exercises May 19.

* Dr. Paul Farmer* (doctor of science) – Farmer has worked in infectious disease control for nearly two decades and is a world-renowned authority on AIDS and tuberculosis. He founded the Boston-based Partners in Health in 1987 as an international organization that provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy activities on behalf of people worldwide who are sick and living in poverty. An attending physician at the Brigham and Womens Hospital inBoston, Farmer also is the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine atHarvardMedicalSchool. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 scholarly publications and of numerous books, most recentlyPathologies of Power: Health Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.A participant last fall in the Notre Dame Forum, he is the subject of the bookMountainsBeyondMountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the Worldby Tracy Kidder.

* Kenneth Hackett* (doctor of humanities) – The president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Hackett has spent his entire career in service to the poor and disenfranchised worldwide. After graduating fromBostonCollegein 1968, he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned toGhana. He began working with CRS in 1972, starting his career inSierra Leone. Since then he has served as regional director for Africa, director of external affairs, country representative to thePhilippines, and regional director ofEast Africa. He was appointed executive director of CRS in 1993 and president in 2003. Under his leadership, CRS has incorporated a justice-centered focus in all its programming, using Catholic Social Teaching as a guide. Also during his tenure, the agency has made a concerted effort to engage the U.S. Catholic community in its work around the world.

* Richard Hunt* (doctor of fine arts) – AChicagosculptor of international renown, Hunt has completed more public sculptures than any artist in the nation. Among his signature works areJacobs Ladderat the Carter G. Woodson Library inChicago,I Have Been to the Mountaintopat the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial inMemphisandFlintlock FantasyinDetroit. Raised on the south side ofChicago, he acquired an appreciation for the arts from his mother, a librarian, and a political and social education by spending time in his fathers barbershop. He was graduated from the School of the Art Institute inChicagoin 1957 and, afterserving for two years in the Army, began his career as an artist, first with studio pieces and later with public art. He has experimented with many sculptural techniques and explored an equally vast array of historical and contemporary themes.

* Immaculée Ilibagiza* (doctor of humanities) – A native of Rwanda, Ilibagiza was 22 years old and home from college to spend Easter with her family in 1994 when the death of the nations Hutu president sparked the slaughter of some 1 million ethnic Tutsis. Ilibagiza was able to survive theRwandagenocide by hiding in a Hutu pastors tiny bathroom with seven other starving women for 91 days. She has chronicled the experience – including the murders of her family members and her own struggle through disbelief, anger, rage and, finally, forgiveness – in a book titledLeft to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.She immigrated to theUnited Statesfour years after the Rwandan tragedy to work with the United Nations Development Program. She lives onLong Islandwith her husband, Bryan Black, and two children.

  • Robert Kiley* (doctor of laws) – A graduate of Notre Dame, Kiley has served in a variety of public service positions – primarily in the field of transportation – for the past 50 years. Most notably, he has received acclaim for improving the public transportation systems in three major cities. InBoston, as chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in the 1970s, he reformed the citys outdatedTsystem. As chair and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority inNew York Cityfrom 1983 to 1990, he led efforts to secure $16 billion in state funding for capital improvements to subways, buses, commuter railroads, tunnels and bridges. InLondon, he served from 2001 to 2006 as commissioner of transport, overseeing the citys underground and other transportation systems. Kileys multifaceted career also has included service in the CIA, as president and CEO of the New York City Partnership, and as president of Fischbach Corp.
    (Mr. Kiley was unable to attend to receive his degree.)

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