During its 250th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 27, Brown University bestowed honorary degrees on a diverse group of scholars, community leaders, activists and artists.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At its 250th Commencement on Sunday, May 27, Brown University conferred honorary doctorates on seven candidates, including two esteemed members of the Brown community, who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields. The recipients included:

Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and are conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin — during Commencement exercises on the College Green. Recipients receive prominent recognition at the ceremony but do not serve as the Commencement speaker; since its earliest days, Brown has reserved that honor for members of the graduating class.

Lonnie G. Bunch III
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

Historian, curator, educator and author, you built the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture from the ground up, with the goal of illustrating how diverse aspects of black culture have shaped America’s identity. The stories you tell — through the museum’s exhibits, educational programs, and even its physical architecture — harness the power of memory and the previously unacknowledged labors of average citizens to provide a unique and important perspective on our shared experiences. For your belief in history as an avenue to better understanding, your drive to preserve the artifacts of our nation’s development, and your determination to bring African American stories out of the shadows, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O scriptor, curator et magister doctissime, ex nihilo museum Smithsonianum faciendum curavisti ut res gestae Afroamericanae quo modo variis modibus naturam patriae signaverint illustrentur. Verbis factisque atque etiam forma aedificii quidem nobis historiam aperuisti magni momenti de adhuc ignotis vitis et certaminibus civium nostrorum. Res hominum Afroamericanorum in monumentis conditas et nunc studio tuo in saecula conservatas e tenebris in mediam scaenam patriae nostrae produxisti. Pro his omnibus, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.

J. Michael Kosterlitz
Doctor of Science
Biographic Notes

As a visionary physicist, influential teacher and mentor, and recent Nobel Laureate, you have cemented your legacy as a leader in the exploration of condensed matter. Using advanced mathematical methods, you avidly pursued experiments that led to important discoveries about unusual transitions and states of matter. These discoveries provide the foundation for today’s work in electronics and materials science. Your research, your collaborative nature, and your enduring excitement about the impact science can have on the world have inspired both your contemporaries and succeeding generations of young scholars. For your abundant contributions to physics, education and the advancement of knowledge through research, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

O tu, physice prospiciens, praemio Nobeliano laureate, princeps praestans et docendo et discendo materias raras densasque, novam artem scientiae materialis condidisti, quae non nisi cum summo studio atque assidua cura atque mathematicis rationibus effeceritis. Te duce discipuli et nunc et in posterum, qui honore tuo, munificentia tua, amore scientiae tuo moventur, res magnas perficient. Pro operis fecundis ad disciplinam physicae adiuvandam, pro hominibus doctis scientiae educandis, Doctorem in Scientia te salutamus, honoris causa.

Beverly E. Ledbetter
Doctor of Laws
Biographic Notes

For 40 years you have steered Brown through the evolving legal landscape and the myriad issues that can arise in the life of a complex research university. Leading a team of dedicated attorneys, your work has addressed questions of intellectual property, the process for awarding financial aid, equity of opportunity in athletics, and the status of DACA students, to name a few. In each of these instances, you have expertly balanced your knowledge of Brown’s values, the needs of its students and the dictates of the law. For your tenacity in the face of challenges, great and small, and your unwavering dedication to Brown and public service on a wider scale, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

O tu praeclara advocata Universitatis Brunensis, sicut rector navem Brunoniam fluitantem in alto tempestatibus forensibus per quadraginta annos gubernavisti. Tu praeterea docta peritaque iure, tu princeps iurisconsultorum assiduorum, semper aestimabas et mores Brunonios et necessaria scholasticorum omnium Brunoniorum et praescripta legum ponderis aequi, cum iudicium faceres de rebus variis. Ut modo paucas res gestas enumeremus, recordemur sententias tuas de tenendis intactilibus animi, de praebendis stipendiis scholasticis, de potestate exercendae athleticae aeque, de statu scholasticorum DACA. Cum te dederis non modo Universitati Brunensi sed etiam populo omni, quoniam in omnibus aerumnis, parvis magnisque, etiam nunc tenaciter laboras, te Legum Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.

Nancy Northup
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

An internationally recognized human rights lawyer, you have spent your career strategizing ways to combat policies that disenfranchise women of all ages and cultures. As the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights since 2003, you have positioned reproductive health as a human rights issue through landmark court cases, capacity-building in more than 45 countries outside of the United States, and the promotion of legal scholarship and teaching related to women’s health in U.S. law schools. Your legal expertise, passionate advocacy and innovative thinking have played a key role in securing the health and safety of millions of women whose voices often go unheard, from Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America to Eastern Europe and across the U.S. For your more than three decades of activism and your unwavering commitment to changing the courts’ understanding of reproductive rights, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Ave patrona illustrissima! Quam multae feminae, et matres et puellae, tuum per laborem beneficia iamdudum accipiunt! Ex quo primum in rostra escendisti pro feminis antehac sine vindice et potestate optimas causas dixisti, iura de partu pluribus gentibus dedisti, nec non alios advocatos ad dicendum pro salute mulierum instituisti. Tam legibus docta, tam patrocinii diligens, tam ingenio acris, innumerabilibus inopibusque feminis ex oriente usque ad occidentem solem salutem auxiliumque tulisti. Ergo quia patrona constantissima leges de partu et salute feminarum novas constituisti, Doctorem in Litteris Humanis te salutamus, honoris causa.

Giuseppe Penone
Doctor of Fine Arts
Biographic Notes

As one of Italy’s best known contemporary artists, you have spent more than 40 years creating visual representations of the interplay among art, nature and the human body. Your sculptures and installations are built to thoughtfully commune with the elements around them and to further develop texturally in response to the forces of time and nature. Driven by a desire to better understand the persistence of biological life and the process of both growth and aging, you have constructed a portfolio of works that summon up both classical ideas of beauty and more complex meditations on strength and vulnerability. For drawing the viewer’s attention to the effects of weight, balance, scale and light on the existence of all living things and for your fundamentally humanist approach to art, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

O tu qui plus quam quadriginta annos imagines intermixtas ex arte naturaque et humano corpore effinxisti, quis est apud Italicos artifices tam praeclarus quam tu? Cupidus intellegendi arcana naturae, quem ad modum quisque primum crescens nascitur dein tabescens perit, opera quae et formas antiquas et meditationes graves firmitatis mollitiaeque evocant perfecisti. Idcirco tuam ob humanitatem per aequabilem, fulgentem et formosam (mirabile visu!) aemulationem naturae, te Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus salutamus, honoris causa.

Sting and Trudie Styler
Doctors of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes: Sting and Trudie Styler

You are vibrant artists, activists and global citizens who have made a lifelong commitment to both human rights and the preservation of the natural world. Your partnership in co-founding and expanding the work of the Rainforest Foundation has cultivated support for the rights of indigenous people, the pursuit of sustainable development and the capacity to challenge the damaging practices of government and industry in these vulnerable areas. Through music, film, word and deed, you have brought awareness and crucial resources to this important cause. For your decades of leadership in protecting the environment and your profound compassion for those who suffer injustice around the world, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Salve vir perite bellis artibus et salve patrone, qui multo tempore te ipsum praesidio naturae et iuri communi das. Et ius indigenorum et defensionem florae faunaeque pendens, conservationem Silvae Pluvialis diligenter cum coniuge molitus es. Carminibus cinematographeisque utens, et verbis dictis et res gestis animum communem et opes necessarias ad has res advertisti. Pro summa naturae diligentia et pro misericordia in afflictis munifice adhibita te in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.