Willamette announces commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients
Willamette will bestow honorary degrees upon three prominent individuals at the university's May 16 commencement ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts.
Peabody Award-winning writer Scott Simon will deliver the commencement address and will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters. Willamette will also award an honorary doctorate in humane letters to anthropologist Sarah Hrdy and an honorary doctorate in science to chemical engineer Robert Langer.
Scott Simon is a reporter for the BBC and also the host of National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition Saturday." Simon has reported from all 50 states and every continent. He has covered 10 wars and hundreds of campaigns, sieges, famines, hurricanes, earthquakes, civil wars, scandals and other important events. Simon has interviewed and profiled some of the most interesting personalities of the times, from Mother Teresa to Ariel Sharon.
Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting, including the Overseas Press Club and Emmy awards. He received the George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly essays, which were cited for their sensitivity and literary style.
Simon has written for The New York Times book review and op-ed sections, the Wall Street Journal opinion and book pages as well as The Los Angeles Times. He is also the author of two novels: Pretty Birds, about teenage girls during the siege of Sarajevo, and Windy City, a political comedy that was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, professor emerita at the University of California, Davis, spent years researching how various evolutionary pressures shape primate behavior. A former Guggenheim Fellow, she was elected to the California Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
She is the author of five books examining many aspects of evolution in primates' relationships, attachment and bonding. Among the many accolades she has earned for her writing, Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants and Natural Selection, won the Howells Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Biological Anthropology and was chosen by both Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal as one of the best books of 1999.
She edited the "Foundations of Human Behavior" series from 1985-96 and continues to serve on editorial boards for Evolutionary Anthropology and Human Nature.
She graduated summa cum laude from Radcliffe College and received her doctorate from Harvard University.
Robert Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is one of 14 institute professors, the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member. Langer is head of the laboratory that studies and develops polymers.
He has written more than 1,000 articles and has 750 patents either issued or pending worldwide. Langer's patents have been licensed or sublicensed to more than 220 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.
Langer has received many major awards, including the 2006 U.S. National Medal of Science, the Charles Stark Draper Prize and the 2008 Millennium Prize, the world's largest technology prize. He is the also the only engineer to receive the Gairdner Foundation International Award.
Forbes Magazine selected Langer as one of the 15 innovators worldwide who will reinvent our future. Time Magazine and CNN named Langer as one of the 100 most important people in America and one of the 18 top people in science or medicine in America.
Langer earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both degrees are in chemical engineering.