2010 Honorary Degrees

Willamette University will bestow honorary degrees upon three prominent individuals at the university's May 16 commencement ceremony.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters & CLA Commencement Speaker

Scott Simon

NPR Host, Writer & Novelist

Scott SimonPeabody-award-winning Scott Simon is host of one of National Public Radio’s most popular programs: Weekend Edition Saturday. He is also currently reporting for BBC News. He has reported from all 50 states and every continent. He has covered 10 wars, hundreds of campaigns, sieges, famines, hurricanes, earthquakes, civil wars, scandals, state funerals and opening nights. He has interviewed and profiled some of the most interesting personalities of the times, from Mother Teresa to Ariel Sharon and Wyclef Jean, to roving street kids in Rio, and refugees in Kosovo, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting, including the Overseas Press Club, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University, George Foster Peabody, Ohio State, Directors Guild, Major Armstrong, and Emmy awards. He received a special 1989 George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly essays, which were cited for their sensitivity and literary style. He was awarded the Studs Terkel Media Award in 2009.

Simon has written for The New York Times Book Review and Op-Ed pages, the Wall Street Journal opinion and book page, The Los Angeles Times, Friends Journal, and Gourmet Magazine (his Gourmet article on “Conflict Cuisine” recently won the International Culinary Professionals Award). He is also the author of two novels: Pretty Birds, his novel 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. He attended the University of Chicago and McGill University and has received numerous honorary degrees. Photo Credit Will O'Leary

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Professor Sarah Hrdy


Professor Sarah HrdySarah 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 has been 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 including The Black-man of Zinacantan: A Central American Legend (1972); The Langurs of Abu: Female and Male Strategies of Reproduction (1977) the first book to examine the reproductive strategies of nonhuman primates from the perspective of both sexes; The Woman that Never Evolved (1981, new edition 1999) selected by the New York Times as one of the Notable Books of the Year; and Mother Nature: A history of mothers, infants and natural selection (1999), which 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”, and Mothers and Others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding (Belknap Press of Harvard, spring 2009), a book about cognitive and emotional implications of humankind’s deep legacy of cooperative breeding. She is also co-editor of Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives, selected by Choice as one of the “Outstanding Academic Books” for 1984, and co-editor with Sue Carter and others of Attachment and Bonding: A new Synthesis (2005). For many years she edited the Foundations of Human Behavior series from 1985-96 and continues to serve on editorial boards for Evolutionary Anthropology and Human Nature.

Hrdy graduated summa cum laude from Radcliffe College and received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She and her husband currently combine growing walnuts with habitat restoration on their farm in northern California.

Honorary Doctor of Science

Dr. Robert Langer


Dr. Robert LangerRobert Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor (there are 14 Institute Professors at MIT, which is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member). He is head of the Langer Lab that studies and develops polymers to deliver drugs.

Dr. Langer has written approximately 1,050 articles. He also has approximately 750 issued and pending patents worldwide. Dr. Langer’s patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 220 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.

Dr. Langer has received over 170 major awards including the 2006 United States National Medal of Science; the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers, 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 (2002) selected Dr. Langer as one of the 15 innovators worldwide who will reinvent our future. Time Magazine and CNN (2001) named Dr. Langer as one of the 100 most important people in America and one of the 18 top people in science or medicine in America (America’s Best). Parade Magazine (2004) selected Dr. Langer as one of 6 “Heroes whose research may save your life.” He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in chemical engineering.

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