Campus News

May 5, 2011

Commencement 2011: Honorary degree recipients

Honorees' work spans variety of professions

Keynote speaker Janet Napolitano

Among those coming to campus for Emory's Commencement are the Homeland Security secretary, a sculptor, a philosopher and an expert on depression.

Janet Napolitano, the third secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will keynote the May 9 Commencement ceremony.

Napolitano leads the nation's collective efforts to secure the United States from threats ranging from terrorism to natural disasters. She oversees Homeland Security's responsibilities related to counterterrorism, border security, immigration enforcement, and disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Prior to becoming secretary, Napolitano was in her second term as governor of Arizona and was recognized as a national leader on homeland security, border security and immigration. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association.

Napolitano will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

William R. Beardslee, who will receive an honorary doctor of science degree, is director of the Baer Prevention Initiatives, chairman emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry at Children's Hospital in Boston, and the Gardner/Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Beardslee has produced groundbreaking research on the protective effects of self-understanding in helping young people and adults to cope with adversity, and has studied self-understanding in civil rights workers, survivors of cancer, and children of parents with affective and depressive disorders. He also is a senior scientist at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston. He has collaborated with Emory faculty in his research, and his father, William A. Beardslee, was a longtime religion professor at Emory.

Martha Nussbaum, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, is a contemporary philosopher and public scholar. She specializes in moral and political philosophy and ethics, as well as ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. She is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, and holds appointments in the philosophy department, law school and divinity school there.

Nussbaum is the author of "The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy," which addresses questions about the meaning and vulnerability of life and luck. Her contributions to scholarship have been in the areas of feminism, international policy, global justice, animal rights and the humanities.

George Trakas, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters, is a sculptor and landscape artist. His installations typically incorporate a functional response to a particular site or environment.  Recent major works include "Beacon Pointʼ" along the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y., "Quai des Trois Dents" in Parc du Pilat in Loire, France, and "Waterfront Nature Walk" in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In much of his work, Trakas recycles local materials and incorporates them into the finished site, providing a strong sense of the character of the original place.

Emory is home to one his works, 1979's  "Source Route," nestled in a ravine behind the Carlos Museum on campus. Trakas spent a week at Emory in April revisiting this work with students and faculty.

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