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Eight To Receive Honorary Degrees

By The Crimson Staff, Crimson Staff Writer

The University will award eight honorary degrees at the 354th Commencement ceremony today, recognizing eight of the world’s most accomplished figures in scholarship, art, and business.

Accompanied by Bong Ihn Koh ’08 playing Bach on the violoncello, the black tie-clad honorees were treated to a dinner of sea scallops, horseradish-encrusted filet of beef with mushroom portwine sauce, and goat cheese cake with fresh berries at Annenberg last night.

This year’s eight honorary degree candidates include four scientists and engineers, two historians, an artist, and the former Harvard treasurer.


Mary Ellen Avery is a leading researcher in pediatric medicine.

She attended Wheaton College and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine before serving as a professor at Johns Hopkins and McGill University. She is the Thomas Morgan Rotch Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics Emerita at Harvard University.

In 1994, Avery was elected to the National Academy of Science for discovering the cause and contributing to the treatment of respiratory disease in young infants.

Avery will receive a Doctor of Science Degree today.


David Baltimore won the Nobel Prize in 1975 for his discovery of reverse transcriptase, a key mechanism in the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV.

Baltimore is currently the president of the California Institute of Technology.

He attended Swarthmore, MIT, and Rockefeller University. As a faculty member at MIT, he was founding director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Baltimore will receive a Doctor of Science degree today.


Caroline Walker Bynum, a historian renowned for her work on medieval Christianity, is no stranger to Harvard.

She earned her masters degree and Ph.D. here and taught in both the History Department and the Divinity School from 1969 to 1976.

Bynum later became the first woman to attain the prestigious title of University professor at Columbia.

She will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.


D. Ronald Daniel served on the Harvard Corporation as treasurer of the University from 1989 to 2004.

Daniel graduated from Wesleyan University and received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1954. He is currently a director at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he was previously a managing partner.

During his tenure as Harvard’s treasurer, the University’s endowment grew from about $4 billion to $22 billion.

Daniel will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.


John A. Lithgow ’67, who will address the Class of 2005 as Commencement speaker today, is an award-winning actor who has appeared on television, stage, and film.

He won three Emmy Awards for his starring role in NBC’s “3rd Rock from the Sun” and is currently appearing on Broadway in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Lithgow, who was a member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers from 1989 to 1995, spearheaded the annual Arts First festival and remains closely involved with Harvard’s Office for the Arts.

Lithgow will receive a Doctor of Arts degree today.


Quentin R. D. Skinner is a prominent historian and philosopher at the University of Cambridge in England.

He has authored seminal texts on subjects ranging from early Renaissance Italian art to the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.

His scholarship has been translated into 19 languages.

He will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.


Charles M. Vest stepped down as president of MIT in December after 14 years at the institution’s helm.

He recently served on a high-profile presidential commission that last month issued a report deeming the Bush administration’s intelligence reform plans “incomplete.”

Vest is now a professor of engineering at MIT.

He will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.


Edward Witten is a leading mathematical physicist.

He spent 4 years as a fellow at Harvard and since 1987 has served as the Simonyi Professor of Physics at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.

Witten has done groundbreaking research in M-Theory—a unification of string theories and a candidate for a “Theory of Everything,” which would describe all physical interactions in a single way.

Witten will receive a Doctor of Science degree today.

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