Brown University continued the 250th anniversary celebration of its founding by awarding honorary degrees to nine University alumni today. The degrees, presented by Brown President Christina H. Paxson on the College Green, honored the achievements of music educator Lee Berk ’64; teacher Beatrice E. Coleman ’25 (awarded posthumously); author Jeffrey Eugenides ’82; physician Arthur Horwich ’72, M.D.’75; electrical engineer Mary Lou Jepsen ’87, Ph.D. ’97; entertainment executive Debra Lee ’76; author Lois Lowry ’58; ecologist Nalini Nadkarni ’76; and Thomas Perez ’83, U.S. secretary of labor. Texts of the citations follow here.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Nine Brown graduates who have distinguished themselves through their efforts in the arts, sciences, letters, scholarship, and public service received honorary degrees today from Brown University during the University’s 246th Commencement ceremonies:
- Lee Berk ’64, former president of Berklee College of Music and an advocate for broader community programs of musical education;
- Beatrice E. Coleman ’25, schoolteacher, church musician, and former secretary of the NAACP’s New England Regional Conference (awarded posthumously);
- Jeffrey Eugenides ’82, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and author;
- Arthur Horwich ’72, M.D.’75, physician, geneticist, and cellular biochemist;
- Mary Lou Jepsen ’87, Ph.D. ’97, electrical engineer and innovator of computer-driven graphic displays;
- Debra L. Lee ’76, chairman and CEO of BET Networks;
- Lois Lowry ’58, award-winning children’s author;
- Nalini Nadkarni ’76, forest ecologist and science communicator; and
- Thomas Perez ’83, civil rights attorney and U.S. secretary of labor.
Honorary degrees are awarded by the University’s Board of Fellows and are conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin — during Commencement exercises on the College Green. Texts of the individual citations follows here.
Lee Eliot Berk Music educator
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Educator, civic leader, author, and advocate for the power of music, you have forever changed the landscape of education through the development of contemporary curricula at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where you served as president for 25 years. Succeeding your father, who founded the college in 1945, you have cultivated a rich array of pathways to excellence in the performance, production, and application of music. Under your leadership, Berklee kept pace with evolving technology, concentrated on practical career training for musicians, established the premier distance learning program for music education, and forged enduring connections with international partners and local organizations that were willing to embrace the therapeutic benefits of music. Your belief in the value of music and the cross-cultural understanding that can result from musical pursuits has motivated you to establish charter schools focused on the arts and a national music program for talented urban teens. Since your retirement from Berklee, you have brought your love and support of jazz to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Phoenix, Arizona, volunteering for a number of arts organizations. For your tireless efforts to expand music education and create a more harmonious society through support of artistry, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Magister, princeps civium, auctor qui opem musicae expressisti, tu studia doctrinae in perpetuum reformavisti novis modis docendi discendique in Collegio Musicorum Berkleensis Bostoniae, cuius praeses viginti annos eras. Secutus patrem qui anno 1945 collegium condiderat, munivisti vias varias ad praestantem musicam canendam sonandam modulandam. Te praeside collegium artificiis mutantibus haud segniter usum est, musicos ad negotium agendum exercuit, institutum praecipuum musicae studiosis qui abessent fundavit, atque domique forisque se cum sociis qui commodis musicae tamquam medicaminum uterentur colligavit. Cum confideres dignitati musicae quae inter gentes concordiam efficere posset, et delectis studiosis scholas deditas artibus liberalibus condidisti et per totam rem publicam opes quae praeclaros iuvenes urbanos musica alerent praebuisti. Cum a collegio praesidendo abscesseras, communicavisti tuum studium musicae nomine iazensis cum civibus Sanctae Fidei et Phoenicis et ad artes liberales fovendas te dedisti. Quod doctrinam musicae augere et concordiam societati artibus liberalibus sustinendis proferre assiduus laboravisti, Doctorem Litterarum Humanarum salutamus, honoris causa.
Beatrice E. Coleman Teacher
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Trailblazing student, dedicated teacher and an ardent devotee to the life of the mind, Beatrice Coleman was one of three black women to graduate from the Women’s College in Brown University in the Class of 1925. Her life was characterized by an independent spirit and a desire to earn her own living and apply in daily life what she learned in the classrooms on College Hill. As the granddaughter of slaves and the daughter of a mother who ran errands for a local dressmaker, she realized early that she wanted to control her own destiny. In a time of blatant discrimination and institutionalized racism, she forged ahead with her education, left the state of Rhode Island in order to find her first teaching job, and became a permanent member and leader within the NAACP. Throughout her career, she demonstrated her love for the children she taught, an abiding interest in history and music, and a profound attachment to Brown and the African-American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Until she passed away in April 2014, at the age of 109, she continued to cherish the education she received at Brown. For living a life of great usefulness and reputation, providing a stellar example for the women who would follow in her footsteps, and remaining ever true to her alma mater, we honor Beatrice Coleman posthumously with a degree of Doctor of Humane Letter, honoris causa.
Studiosa, magistra studentibus dedita, doctrinae litterarumque diligentissima, Beatrix Coleman una ex tribus feminis Africanis-Americanis erat quae apud collegium femineum Universitatis Brunensis anno 1925 gradum susceperunt. Femina sui potens ad suam vitam moresque praecepta universitatis adhibere fortiter enisa est. Quod neptis servorum erat et filia matris quae vestitori vicino laboravit, iuventute modo ineunte constitit ut manibus suis habenas quasi fati vitaeque susciperet. Disciplinam secuta constans tempore quo leges iniquae constiterunt, a Rhodensi Insula discessit ut magistra esset, atque postea sodalis et una ex principibus in NAACP fuit. Demonstravit totam per vitam caritatem discipulis suis, studium historiae musicaeque, et fidelitatem veram erga Universitatem Brunensem atque sodalitatem feminarum nomine Alpha Kappa Alpha. Adusque ad finem vitae Aprile 2014 (vixit, mirabile dictu, annos 109), eruditioni studuit. Quod tam utilissime dignissimeque vixit ut exemplum praeclarum feminis posterioribus se daret, atque pro constante fide erga almam matrem, Beatricem Coleman postumam Doctorem Litterarum Humanarum salutamus, honoris causa.
Jeffrey Eugenides Author
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Celebrated novelist, Pultizer-Prize winner, teacher and mentor, you chose to become a writer because you understood that the literary process would awaken you to the vivid complexities of the world. Your three highly praised novels revolve around the theme of identity — how we absorb the details of our surroundings, process them, and respond to them in profoundly personal ways. But your works also widen our gaze and lead us to ponder the evolution and the current state of humanity more broadly. In addition to your mastery of narrative and psychological analysis, you are precise in your use of language and deeply attuned to the fragility of life. These qualities reflect your overall devotion to your craft and your integrity as a storyteller. Your creativity, incisiveness and unmatched work ethic have won you both critical and popular acclaim and positioned you as one of the most respected literary figures working today. And you have followed in the footsteps of your mentors by sharing your love of learning and your approach to writing with a rising generation of students. For your eloquent depictions of human nature, your fierce commitment to excellence and your efforts to shape new literary voices, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
Auctor clarissime, donate praemio egregio Pulitzer, magister et rector, constituisti te scriptorem futurum esse cum intellegeres rationem litterarum te ad controversias mundi varias gravesque cognoscendas excitaturam esse. Tres libri tui valde laudati quaestionem tractant, quomodo mores nostri fingantur; quippe persequeris quo pacto proprietates illorum locorum, in quibus habitamus, perspiciamus et intellegamus et postremo quo pacto eas feramus omnes modo suo. Sed etiam opera tua conspectum cognitionemque nobis augent et progressionem et praesentem statum rerum humanarum capaciore mente nos contemplare hortantur. Praeter raram fabularum contexendarum facultatem et investigationem animarum humanarum profundam, verba elegantissime deligis et fragilitatem vitae accuratissime comprehendis. Hae indoles tuae arguunt studium artis perficiendae et honestatem in narrationibus fingendis. Tua fecunditas docta, acris subtilitas et diligentia singularis pro te admirationem omnium - et politiorum et populariorum - abstulerunt et te reddiderunt numerandum inter illos scriptores qui nunc maxime aestimantur. Et vestigia rectorum tuorum secutus es communicans tuum ardorem discendi et rationem scribendi cum discipulis huius aetatis. Pro descriptionibus naturae humanae disertis, pro alacri studio excellentiae, et pro laboribus ad novos scriptores educandos, te in Litteris Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.
Arthur L. Horwich Physician and geneticist
Doctor of Medical Science (Sc.M.D.)
Caring physician, renowned geneticist, and a member of the Brown Medical School’s first graduating class in 1975, you have transformed your lifelong excitement about scientific inquiry into an unmatched career as both a pediatrician and a researcher. Your desire to explore the application of clinical science to the health of children has led to groundbreaking discoveries that hold the potential to influence treatment of numerous diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. As the Sterling Professor of Genetics at Yale University and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute you have collaborated with peers around the world to illuminate a key understanding of the way in which proteins reach their biological potential inside cells. Your exhaustive experiments have shown that proteins need help to fold into their functional form and that it might be possible to prevent misfolding, which is a hallmark of many degenerative diseases. As the accolades for your achievements have poured in, you have remained focused on the task of translating your findings into concrete benefits for physicians and patients. For your compassionate work of more than 20 years as a physician and your dedication to conducting the foundational research that will help preserve the quality of life, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa.
Medice fovens, illustrissime physice scientiae geneticae, numerate inter alumnos qui gradibus Medicae Scholae Universitatis Brunensis anno 1975 primi functi sunt, tuum studium constantissimum in cursum honorum unicum commutavisti clarescens ut paediatricius et vir doctissimus. Ardor tuus ad usus medicae scientiae investigandos pro salubritate liberorum inventa nova repperit et valida quae modis curandorum morborum variorum graviumque prodesse possunt. Ut Professor Cathedram Sterling apud Universitatem Yalensem tenens vel ut medicus eruditissimus Sodalitatis Medicae Howard Hughes, cum sociis ex partibus diversis laboravisti ut demonstraveris quomodo proteina intra cellulas ad plenam aetatem perveniant. Per investigationes tuas diligentissimas comperisti proteinis opus esse auxilio ut in formas efficaces suas complicentur nec non quod forsitan proteina aliquo modo prohibeantur quin complicentur perperam, id quod est proprium morborum tabificorum multorum. Omnibus laudibus pro meritis tuis accumulantibus, fidissimus operam das ut inventa tua adhibeantur ad medicos aegrosque adiuvandos. Pro laboribus tuis magna cum misericordia exactis per annos plusquam viginti, et pro studio agendi investigationem multum valentem ad salubritatem humanarum vitarum integrem conservandam, te Scientiae Medicae Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.
Mary Lou Jepsen Electrical engineer, innovator
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Groundbreaking computer scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and avowed big thinker, your vision has led to the rapid development of display hardware and greater access to computers for children in developing nations. Your belief in the value of combining science and artistry has influenced the creation of innovative screen-based products and inspired the Google founders to name you head of its Display Division at Google [x], the company’s secretive and futuristic development wing. At M.I.T., you developed the first holographic video system in the world and went on to pioneer the design of wearable display devices, HDTV and liquid crystal displays. You co-founded the highly successful nonprofit One Laptop per Child and overcame the challenges of providing low-cost, low-power computing in order to meet the needs of students in rural and underserved areas. Your work in this area has transformed educational opportunities for millions of students and allowed them to explore more fully their place in the global community. In addition, you have worked with partners and consumers around the globe to improve production methods and reduce energy use in the process. You have developed four start-up companies and more than 50 patents, and your efforts have won you numerous national and international awards. In recognition of your entrepreneurial spirit, your faith in the broad potential of technology, and your drive to improve society through more thoughtful design, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Tu quae omnia dispexisti computatralia, quae non tantum quaestus faciendos comperisti sed etiam liberalitatem, eadem vidisti (nam contemplatricem confessa es) quomodo melior armatura demonstrativa cito fieret et quomodo pueri gentium nondum locupletium plura computatra adipiscerentur. Scientiam et formam in unum conferens, quadra fingis tam praeclara ut cohorti demonstrativae in Google [x], ubi res arcanae et futurae agitentur, praefecta sis. In Instituto Technologiae Massachusettensi primum systema invenisti holographicum, quadra deinde formasti quae geri possent, quae imagines mitterent mirae claritatis, quae crystallo liquido uterentur. Nulla lucri spe pueros computatris donabas singulis, ut discipuli rustici egentesque computatra cum vilia tum commoda haberent. Quibus edocti, complures partis ad quas oecumene vocat perceperunt. Laborabas praeterea universis cum populis ut opera minore meliora computatra fabricarentur. Cum quattuor societates condideris et quinquagiens litteras patentes receperis, saepe palmas tulisti et a civibus et ab externis datas. Quia cum studio et audacia, artificii potestate fidens, pro rebus humanis formam utilem provides, te Scientiae Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.
Debra L. Lee Entertainment industry executive
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Highly regarded as one of the nation’s top executives, a pioneer among women, and a strong, thoughtful leader, you have directed the evolution of BET Networks from a music-centric network to a media powerhouse. During your 28-year tenure at the company, you have applied your expertise in law, business management, media relations, and the arts to broaden BET Networks’ viewership, expand its cultural influence, and ensure that its programming educates and inspires as well as entertains. As Chairman and CEO of the company, your understanding of the current media landscape has allowed you to re-imagine BET Networks’ brand and extend its reach on an international level. To do so, you have taken a stand against degrading content and proven that uplifting programming can attract and retain a wider audience. Your willingness to share your experience with other businesswomen and your outstanding support of education and the arts throughout your career have won you the admiration of your peers, numerous awards, and a seat on President Obama’s Management Advisory Board. For your distinguished career as a business leader, your service to various artistic communities, and your contributions to the University, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Civis praeclarissima patriae, femina eminens, dux fortis et prudens, magnopere auxisti societatem BET, quae olim dedita tantum artibus musicis erat. Perita iure, negotio, communicatione, et artibus, duodetriginta annos laboravisti ut audientes educares, excitares, delectares. Tu, o princeps sapiens et perspicax, signum societatis BET refinxisti et divulgavisti. Obstans spectaculis ignominiosis ostendisti opera honesta audientibus placere posse. Laudata coronataque inter pares quod alias negotiatores muliebres libenter monuisti et eruditionem artesque identidem perfulsisti, Praeses Obama te adiutricem designavit. Pro praestantia in negotiis, pro studio artibus, et pro beneficiis ad Universitatem Brunensem, te salutamus Doctorem Litterarum Humanarum, honoris causa.
Lois Lowry Children’s author
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Acclaimed and beloved author, mother, grandmother, and champion of literature as a gateway to better understanding the world, you have written more than 40 books that have touched the lives of children around the globe. You have twice won the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature by an American author, making you one of only three to have received the award more than once. Your two most celebrated works, The Giver and Number the Stars demonstrate both your incomparable gift for storytelling and your steadfast belief in the therapeutic value of words. Your devotion to instilling a love of reading in young people as well as the ability to face the complexities of life with equanimity and compassion for others continues to set a valuable example for both children and adults. For your outstanding contributions to literature, your perseverance in pursuing your dream of becoming a writer, and the strength you have shown in channeling personal tragedy into your art, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.
O praeclarissima et carissima auctor, mater, avia, propugnator litterarum, tu supra quadraginta libros, qui cordes omnium per orbem terrarum liberorum tetigerunt, scripsisti. Tu, una ex tribus, quae bis propter praestantiam in Americanis litteris ad liberos compositis praemium Newberiense abstulit, sublimi vertice sidera feris. Tua celebratissima opera, nomine The Giver et Number the Stars, demonstraverunt quam praestans fabulandi ingenium tibi esset et quantum solacium verba praebere posse crederes. Ita et ad amorem legendi et ad curam in omnibus rebus iustitiae et misercordiae iuvenes incitavisti ut non modo liberis sed etiam adultis optimum exemplum dares. Propter gloriam quam in litteris perfecisti, pertinaciam qua metam artis scriptoriae contigisti et vim qua aerumnam et miseriam in summas artes convertere potuisti, te iure in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.
Nalini Moreshwar Nadkarni Forest ecologist
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Pioneering ecologist, teacher and public communicator, your career has been marked by intellectual curiosity and exceptional creativity in bringing scientific knowledge to diverse populations. As a faculty member at The Evergreen State College in Washington for 20 years, you helped to build the field of forest canopy studies with your exploration of the aerial mechanisms by which trees in the rain forest acquire the nourishment that is not available to them from the nutrient-poor soil. You have published more than 100 scientific articles and four scholarly books, but your drive to involve the public in the work of science and conservation has multiplied your impact. You have worked in collaboration with artists, dancers, filmmakers, and incarcerated men and women to broaden access to environmental information and job training in green industries. In developing the National Science Foundation Research Ambassadors Program and co-founding the Sustainability in Prisons Project, you have opened up pathways to public awareness and engagement with science in non-traditional venues. And, as a current professor of biology and director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Utah, you continue to promote the value of scientific learning for people of all ages. For your deep commitment to science education, public awareness of environmental issues, and the development of conservation strategies for the benefit of society, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
O tu quae indagatrix viam ad studia terrestria munis, quae et perdocta alios doces et praeco benigna doctrinam pronuntias, res tuas gestas semper ornavisti studio cognoscendi atque mira quidem arte qua cognita rerum naturalium monstrasti omnis generis hominibus. haec autem studia professa viginti annos apud Collegium Civilem Sempervirentem in Vasingtonia, scrutata quibus aeriis modis arbores silvae pluvialis aluntur humo nihil alimenti praebente, novum studium de arborum cacuminibus condere adiuvisti. cum tamen supra centum libellos physicos atque quattuor libros doctos edidisti, quod quidem populum ad studia physica impellere conata es, hoc effecit ut res tuae gestae multo magis valerent. Laborasti una cum artificibus, saltatoribus, doctoribus scaenicis necnon carceratis ut aditus patefaceretur ad indicia de terra et ad primam peritiam laborum qui terram fovent. molita Consilium Societatis Civilis Scientiae ad Scholasticos Legatos Iuvandos et cum aliis cooperata ut res apud carceres parce conserventur, populum novis modis donasti quibus studia naturae et melius cognoscat et conveniat insolitis quoque locis. iam nunc professor biologiae et administrator Collegii Scientiae et Mathematicae Doctrinae apud Universitatem Utah, adhuc doces quantum deceat homines omni aetate discere physica. Quod et doctrinae scientiae et populo monendo de salute orbis terrarum iam pridem operata pro beneficio populi consilia conservandi excogitasti, idcirco te Doctorem Scientiae salutamus, honoris causa.
Thomas E. Perez Civil rights attorney and U.S. secretary of labor
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Lawyer, consumer advocate and dedicated public servant, your desire to extend and protect the rights of your fellow citizens developed early in life and blossomed here on College Hill. The son of immigrants, you worked your way through Brown, earned your law and public policy degrees from Harvard, and built a career focused on mitigating inequality and eradicating injustice in all areas of society. In your capacity as a civil rights attorney and in various government positions, you have worked to eliminate predatory lending practices, implement hate-crimes legislation, encourage revision of harassment policies in public schools, close loopholes in employment discrimination laws, and ensure equal treatment of people with disabilities and health concerns across the nation. As Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation you addressed critical workforce development needs, including a dangerous shortage of nurses within the state, and oversaw the enforcement of a range of consumer rights and workplace safety laws. Now, as the nation’s 26th Secretary of Labor, appointed by President Obama, you are applying your considerable knowledge, skills and compassion to the goal of improving the welfare of all Americans in terms of employment, health care benefits and preparation for retirement. For your deep devotion to public service, your passionate defense of human rights, and your pursuit of a more equitable society, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
O minister publici boni, tua voluntas adiuvandi protegendique cives quam usque a prima aetatis parte colis hic apud nos florere coepit. Peregrinis natus, laboribus tuis gradibus universitatis Brunensis functus es. postea apud Harvardianam ad gradus summos admissus es, doctus legibus et rationibus civilibus. Nunc advocatus civilis iuris atque magistratus animum facultatesque attendis quomodo tota in societate iniquitas emendetur et iniustitiae exstirpentur. Creatus a praeside Obama vicesimus sextus Minister Laboris, diligenter laboras ut meliores omnium Americanorum vitae fiant. Te, qui rei publicae deditissimus es, qui iura humana defendis, et qui aequiorem societatem efficis, Doctorem Legum salutamus, honoris causa.