New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on distinguished mathematician and NYU alumna and faculty member emerita Cathleen Morawetz at NYU’s 175th Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park. Some 19,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, on Cathleen Morawetz:
Cathleen Synge Morawetz-your career has been marked by luminous achievement in both research and leadership in the discipline of mathematics. Earning your doctorate from our Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences in 1951, rising through its faculty ranks to become the first woman to serve as director, from 1984 to 1988, you have remained our devoted colleague and generous mentor throughout your six decades at NYU. After your earliest work on mathematical problems in plasma physics, you turned to transonic airfoils-wing shapes for flying just below the speed of sound. Your ingenious analysis completely transformed research in airfoil design. You then solved a long-outstanding problem in wave scattering around obstacles, showing that local wave energy near the obstacle dissipates quickly into outgoing waves. Your proof introduced the amazing Morawetz multiplier estimates, which are central in modern theories of wave propagation. Recipient of the Krieger-Nelson, Steele, and Birkhoff Prizes, you possess a magnificent résumé, a stellar series of firsts for a woman in the academy: first to belong to the applied mathematics section of the National Academy of Sciences; first to deliver the Gibbs Lecture of the American Mathematical Society, which you served as president; first to receive the National Medal of Science for work in mathematics.
Cathleen Synge Morawetz-grande dame of American science, deeply cherished member of our University family, you have contributed to your beloved discipline of mathematics and its applications in the highest, deepest, and broadest sense. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.