Honorary Degrees and Speakers
New York University is pleased to recognize several distinguished individuals at this year's All-University Commencement Exercises.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Commencement for the Class of 2022
Singer, songwriter, producer, and director Taylor Swift will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, at the Commencement for the Class of 2022 and will deliver remarks on behalf of the honorary degree recipients.
Learn more about Taylor Swift
An 11-time Grammy winner, Taylor Swift is one of the most prolific and celebrated artists of her generation. She is the the only female artist in history to win the music industry’s highest honor, the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, three times. Her many awards and distinctions include being the most awarded artist ever in American Music Awards’ history along with being named Artist of the Decade; winner of the BRIT Awards International Female Solo Artist of the Year in 2015 and the Global Icon Award in 2021; and Billboard’s first-ever and only two-time winner of the Woman of the Decade Award. She is the only solo artist this century to have three albums reach No. 1 in one year.
Susan Hockfield, President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
Learn more about Susan Hockfield
During her tenure as MIT’s first female president, Susan Hockfield strengthened the foundations of MIT’s finances and campus planning while advancing institute-wide programs in sustainable energy and the convergence of the life, physical, and engineering sciences. As a biologist, she pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research, identifying proteins through which neural activity early in life affects brain development. Dr. Hockfield also helped shape national policy by serving under President Obama as co-chair on the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and as a member of a Congressional Commission evaluating the Department of Energy laboratories in 2015.
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor of the City University of New York, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Learn more about Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is the first BIPOC educator and the first Latino to lead the nation’s largest urban public university, serving 270,000 degree-seeking students and 225,000 adult and continuing education students in 25 campuses across New York City’s five boroughs. Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s distinguished career spans both academia and the public sector: He is a scholar, teacher, administrator, and former Cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Chancellor Matos Rodríguez previously served as the president of Queens College and of Hostos Community College, making him one of a select few U.S. educators to have been president of both a community and baccalaureate institution.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Commencement for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021
Lifelong disability rights advocate Judith Heumann will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at the Commencement for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021, and will deliver remarks on behalf of the honorary degree recipients.
Learn more about Judith Heumann
Judith Heumann has been instrumental in the development and implementation of groundbreaking legislation supporting people with disabilities, including Section 504, the Individuals with Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Prior to founding Judith Heumann LLC, she served in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Her memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, was published in 2020 and she produces the podcast, The Heumann Perspective, which spotlights members of the disability community. She is also featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution.
Lonnie G. Bunch III
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie G. Bunch III will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Learn more about Lonnie G. Bunch III
In his current capacity, Secretary Bunch oversees 21 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, and numerous research and education centers. Secretary Bunch was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he led the museum from the idea stage into the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to the African American story. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House in 2002 and reappointed by President Obama in 2010. His numerous awards include the Roosevelt Institute Freedom Medal; the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from the Hutchins Center at Harvard University; the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund; and France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor.
Harvard professor of history, author, and journalist Jill Lepore will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Learn more about Jill Lepore
A prolific author of over a dozen books, Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States was named one of Time magazine's top 10 nonfiction books of the decade. As a staff writer at the New Yorker and the producer and host of the popular podcast, The Last Archive, she engages the public in conversations about some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation, ranging from race riot commissions, the decline of democracy, and the literature of plagues. Dr. Lepore is the recipient of many honors, including the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the Berkshire Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race. She joined the Harvard University History Department in 2003 and was named Harvard College Professor in 2012, in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching.
Gallatin Medals and Rudin Awards
Additional honors will be presented at pre-Commencement events.
The Albert Gallatin Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Society will be presented to two recipients this year.
- Joel S. Ehrenkranz (LAW '61, '63)—NYU trustee; NYU School of Law life trustee; founding partner, Ehrenkranz Partners LP; and noted philanthropist—will receive the honor for his lifelong commitment to expanding opportunities for talented students of modest means and for his success in promoting a dynamic and inclusive arts community in New York and around the world.
- Evan R. Chesler (ARTS '70; LAW '75)—renowned litigator, educator, philanthropist, NYU trustee, NYU School of Law trustee, and Chair of the NYU Arts and Science Board—will be recognized for his extraordinary support for the NYU community as a generous patron, avid mentor, and inspired educator, as well his outstanding contributions to the legal profession.
The Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City will be presented to Mitchell L. Moss, Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy & Planning and director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Administration at NYU.