Commencement speakers, honorary degrees announced

by University Communications,

At Willamette’s May 19 commencement ceremony, the university will award honorary degrees to Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global and Atkinson Graduate School of Management alumnus from the class of ‘86, and to astrophysicist Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, co-discoverer of the first radio pulsars, who will deliver the undergraduate commencement address.

At 9 a.m., Renjen will deliver the commencement address for the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, and Jonathan Mayes, senior vice president of external affairs and chief diversity officer at Albertsons Companies, will speak to College of Law graduates at 11:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m., Bell Burnell will address graduating seniors from the College of Liberal Arts.

More information about the commencement ceremonies, including schedules, speaker biographies, interactive campus map and live-streams are available online

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Honorary Doctor of Science

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student in 1967, co-discovered the first radio pulsars. The discovery was recognized by the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but — even though she was the first to observe the pulsars — Bell was excluded from the recipients of the prize. An advocate for inclusion in science during her academic career as a professor and dean, she earned the 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and donated $3 million in prize money to support graduate students from underrepresented groups.

Punit Renjen: Honorary Doctor of Business Administration

Punit Renjen

Renjen’s work ethic took him from his hometown in Rohtak, India, to Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management, where his business acumen caught the attention of a journalist — and the eye of a partner at Touche Ross, which later became Deloitte. After earning his master’s from Willamette, Renjen has spent his career with the Deloitte organization and was appointed CEO of Deloitte Global in 2015. Deloitte operates in 150 countries, with more than 263,900 professionals. Renjen was named among the 100 most influential business leaders from schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, the premier accrediting body for graduate business programs.

Jonathan Mayes: College of Law Commencement Speaker

Jonathan Mayes

Mayes graduated from Willamette Law after receiving his bachelor’s in social science from Warner Pacific College in 1978. He serves as senior vice president for external affairs and chief diversity officer for Albertsons. He’s been honored by the San Francisco Bay Area Minority Bar Coalition and has served as an industry and community leader in many organizations, earning the Alumnus of the Year award from Warner Pacific College and the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award from Willamette University for his work fostering diversity and inclusion.

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