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Honorary Degrees & Speakers

Several distinguished individuals were recognized at the 2017 Commencement Exercises. Honorary Degree recipients included Thomas R. Frieden, Jean-Marie Lehn, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Melissa V. Harris-Perry, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and Mark Kelly. Speaking on behalf of all the honorary degree recipients was Pharrell Williams. Award recipients honored at an earlier date included Anthony Welters, Carl Weisbrod, and Rima Al Mokarrab.

Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams, the musician, songwriter, and producer, who has earned 11 Grammy Awards, and is a two-time Academy Award nominee, addressed the graduates and guests on behalf of all the honorary degree recipients. Williams, who was an artist in residence at the Tisch School of the Arts last year, received a Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa.

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH - physician, public health leader, and former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - received a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa. 

Jean-Marie Pierre Lehn, PhD - Nobel prize-winning chemist and professor at the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study - received a Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa. 


The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski

The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski - the first Democratic woman Senator elected in her own right and the longest serving woman Senator in U.S. history when she retired earlier this year - received a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. 

The Honorable Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, Captain USN - cofounders of Americans for Responsible Solutions and gun violence prevention advocates after Giffords, a former Congresswoman from Arizona's 8th District, survived an assassination attempt that left her with a traumatic brain injury - both received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, PhD

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, PhD - the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, professor, and author addressing justice, gender, and race - received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. 

The Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society was presented to Anthony Welters (LAW '77), renowned entrepreneur, visionary leader, and philanthropist who serves as Chairman of the Board of New York University School of Law, Vice Chairman of the NYU Board of Trustees, and Trustee of NYU Langone Medical Center. 

Anthony Welters

Carl Weisbrod

The Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City was presented to Carl Weisbrod (LAW '68), the former Chairman of the New York City Planning Commission, the Chairman for the Trust for Governors Island, and a Senior Fellow at NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management.  

The NYU Presidential Medal was presented to Rima Al Mokarrab, Executive Director of Strategic Affairs at the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi and Board Member of the UAE Space Agency. 

Rima Al Mokarrab