Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson will return to the
Emory campus for the second time this academic year when she addresses
graduates as the keynote speaker at Commencement on Monday, May
Robinson is one of four honorary degree recipients who will be honored at the
159th Commencement ceremony. Her co-recipients include medieval historian Caroline
Walker Bynum, U.S. Olympic Committee President Emeritus LeRoy Walker and Emory
Trustee Emeritus James Williams.
“Emory’s honorary degree recipients bring honor to Emory even as
Emory honors them. They are accomplished contributors in their own life
fields who instruct and inspire us—as every doctoral degree holder should
aspire to do,” said President Jim Wagner, who will be participating in
his first Emory Commencement this year.
Robinson, executive director of the New York-based Ethical Globalization Initiative,
made her first visit to campus in December when she delivered the eighth annual
Rosalynn Carter Distinguished Lecture in Public Policy. A lifelong advocate of
universal respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, Robinson was elected Ireland’s
first woman president in 1990, serving for seven years, and served as United
Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002. She was a senator
in Ireland for 20 years prior to becoming president and was educated at Trinity
College (Dublin), and holds law degrees from the King’s Inns (Dublin),
and Harvard and Oxford Universities.
An Atlanta native, Bynum is widely recognized as the leading medieval historian
in the U.S., with six books, five edited volumes and more than three dozen articles
to her credit. Her most recent book, The Resurrection of the Body in Western
Christianity, 200-1336, won the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize from the Phi Beta Kappa
Society and the Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society.
From 1988 until 2003, she was on the faculty at Columbia University, earning
the distinction as the first woman named as a University Professor in 1990.
Also an Atlanta native, Walker was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance to overcome
racial barriers and earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University in exercise physiology
and biomechanics. As a coach, he has been recognized in the Olympic movement
for his specialized training programs. Walker is the former chancellor of North
Carolina Central University and based his educational career on a motto of “discipline,
excellence, shared responsibility.” In 1993, he was unanimously elected
to head the U.S. Olympic Committee and held this position during the 1996 Summer
Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Williams (’55C) first was elected as an alumnus trustee in 1973, then became
a term trustee in 1976 and a trustee emeritus in 2003. During his time on the
Board of Trustees (BOT), he chaired the five-year capital campaign that ran from
1979–1984 and raised $220 million for Emory. The Emory Medalist is the
chair of the executive committee of SunTrust Banks, where he has worked since
1957. He has been involved in countless other roles and projects as a member
of the Woodruff Foundation board and as chair of the Woodruff Health Sciences
Center Board, which is an arm of the BOT.
For more information on the honorees, please visit www.emory.edu/COMMENCEMENT.