Emory Report
March 7, 2005
Volume 57, Number 22


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March 7, 2005
Tom Brokaw headlines 2005 list of honorary degree recipients

BY Katherine Baust

Recently retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw will keynote this year’s Commencement address on May 16, headlining a group of four honorary degree recipients that includes Atlanta entrepreneur Thomas Cousins, nursing scholar Sue Hegyvary (’66N); founding dean of the Georgia State University School of Law Ben Johnson Jr. (’36C, ’40L); and Master of University College, Oxford, Lord Robin Butler.

“Having reported, with insight and deep knowledge, so many of the world-shaping developments of the past three decades, Mr. Brokaw underscores Emory’s longstanding commitment to international understanding and ethical inquiry into truth,” said President Jim Wagner.

A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Brokaw began his journalism career in Omaha, Neb., and also was the the late evening news anchor at Atlanta’s WSB-TV before joining NBC News in 1966. Brokaw was the White House correspondent for NBC during Watergate, and from 1976–81 he anchored the Today show. Beginning in 1983, Brokaw served as sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, a post he held until his retirement following the 2004 presidential election. Brokaw has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including a Peabody Award, two DuPonts and several Emmys.

Journalism Professor Catherine Manegold, who sits on the Commencement speaker committee, lauded Brokaw’s reports on social issues such as race and poverty. “His more in-depth work has marked him as someone who lives up to the highest ethical calling of the profession, alerting the public to issues of general concern that, while they may not make headlines on a daily basis, affect the lives of many—every day.”

Entrepreneur Tom Cousins, seen by many as the “architect” of the city of Atlanta, is widely known for his innovative approach to building. Among his notable accomplishments is the East Lake development, a successful mixed-income community that serves as a model nationwide. The development also incorporated a bold experiment in city of Atlanta schools—the re-creation of Charles R. Drew School as a Charter School, for which Cousins designed and constructed an award-winning new building.

Cousins has been associated with the University for over 30 years as a member of the Board of Visitors and the Carlos Museum, a member of the Board of Trustees for 13 years, continuing as trustee emeritus since 2001. He continues to work on behalf of the Carter Center, and he currently chairs the Board of Trustees of the Bobby Jones Trust.

An internationally recognized nursing scholar, educator, researcher, practitioner and public servant, Sue Hegyvary has combined her clinical expertise with her teaching experience to advance the science of medical-surgical nursing through research and practice. Hegyvary recently concluded a term as dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing, and has remained involved with Emory since she was a master’s graduate from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

A graduate of the School of Law, Ben Johnson joined the faculty in 1946, and served as law dean from 1961–72. During his tenure, Johnson introduced programs to ethically engage students in their training, such as protecting the environment or promoting child welfare.

Outside Emory, Johnson persuaded Atlanta law firms to hire more women attorneys, producing studies to contradict the belief that women would be absent from work more than men. He led the effort to desegregate private universities in Georgia, and extended that leadership as deputy attorney general. In the State Senate, where he served from 1963–69, Johnson was the principal author of legislation that created MARTA. In 1981, he became the founding dean of the Georgia State University School of Law.

Lord Robin Butler of Brockwell became well known in the United States in July 2004 for “The Butler Report,” following investigative inquiry of the United Kingdom’s political leadership and intelligence community prior to the war against Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Butler to head the inquiry because he has served for most of his professional life at the highest levels of government in the British political system under both Labour and Conservative governments. Currently he is Master of University College, Oxford, his alma mater, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Butler uses contacts made during his public service to benefit Emory students participating annually in the British studies’ summer study in England. More than any of his predecessors at University College, Butler has been a welcoming force and has taken a great personal interest in Emory students and faculty.

Information about each person of the honorary degree recipients will be available at www.emory.edu/COMMENCEMENT.