Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and two retiring school officials will be among the seven persons receiving honorary degrees from Northwestern University next month.

The recipients include Northwestern University President Henry S. Bienen and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick G. Ryan, both of whom will step down from their positions after 14 years.

In addition to receiving an honorary degree, Marsalis will be the main speaker at the 151st annual commencement ceremony to be held at Ryan Field on Friday, June 19.

Bienen and Ryan will be awarded Doctor of Humane Letters degrees, and Marsalis will receive a Doctor of Arts degree.

Four others will receive honorary Doctor of Science degrees. They are:

  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor in Child Development and Education at Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University
  • Fred Kavli, Norwegian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • H. Eugene Stanley, a University Professor with appointments in physics, chemistry, biomedical engineering and physiology at Boston University
  • Lonnie G. Thompson, University Distinguished Professor in The Ohio State University Department of Geological Sciences

Henry S. Bienen, who was inaugurated as Northwestern University’s 15th president in 1995, plans to step down in August after a tenure that has seen the institution grow dramatically in academic prominence, financial resources and athletic success. A graduate of Cornell University, Bienen received his master’s degree and PhD from the University of Chicago. He then served for almost three decades on the faculty of Princeton University, ultimately as the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At Northwestern Bienen was one of the first three university presidents to receive the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award for innovation in higher education. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he serves on numerous boards, including the Council on Foreign Relations board of directors and the Argonne National Laboratory board of governors.

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn is one of today’s most distinguished and influential developmental psychologists. As founding director of Columbia’s National Center for Children and Families and its Institute on Child and Family Policy, she has undertaken visionary research in early childhood interventions, childhood poverty, child care, after-school programs, adolescent pubertal development, mothers’ employment, neighborhood influences and public policy for children. Her more than 500 publications include 20 books, including “Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children”; “Adolescent Mothers in Later Life”; “Social Cognition and the Acquisition of Self”; and “He and She: How Children Develop their Sex-Role Identity”. Among Brooks-Gunn’s numerous honors are the Society for Research in Child Development’s Distinguished Contributions to the Public Policy for Children Award, the American Academy of Political and Social Science’s Margaret Mead Fellow Award, and the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy Award and James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award.

Fred Kavli has devoted the proceeds of his highly successful business to furthering scientific research. In 1958 he founded the California-based Kavlico Corporation, which became a global leader in high-precision engineering products for the aerospace and automotive industries. After 42 years as Kavlico’s chief executive officer and sole shareholder, he sold the business and established The Kavli Foundation with a mission of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and increasing public understanding and support for science. The foundation funds research institutes and professorships at major universities worldwide as well as initiatives and programs such as the Kavli Futures Symposia and the Kavli Frontiers in Science. The foundation is also a founding partner of the biennial Kavli Prizes — million-dollar awards inaugurated in 2008 that recognize scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience. An elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kavli was awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit in 2006.

Wynton Marsalis, one of the most honored musicians of our time, has achieved international success as a jazz musician, classical trumpeter, composer, arts advocate and educator. His oratorio “Blood on the Fields” won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for music, the first ever awarded to a jazz musician. Winner of nine Grammy Awards, Marsalis is the only artist to win Grammys for both jazz and classical recordings. He is the cofounder and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, a full artistic constituent of Lincoln Center since 1995 and now headquartered in Frederick P. Rose Hall, the world’s first concert hall built specifically for jazz. Marsalis’s other honors include France’s Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the American Arts Council’s Arts Education Award, the National Medal of Arts, appointment as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and 29 honorary degrees.

Patrick G. Ryan will step down after 14 years as chair of Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees. A Northwestern alumnus, Ryan is the founder of Aon Corporation — a global leader in risk management, insurance and human capital consulting — and was its executive chairman until retiring in 2008. One of Chicago’s most prominent business and civic leaders, he heads Chicago 2016, the organization dedicated to bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. Ryan is a director of the Chicago Bears Football Club and a life trustee of Rush University Medical Center. Among his numerous honors are Brigham Young University’s International Executive of the Year Award, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans Award and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations Chicago Leadership Award. Ryan is a member of the Chicago Business Hall of Fame and past president of the Economic Club of Chicago.

H. Eugene Stanley, a pioneer in the field of complex systems, joined the Boston University faculty in 1976 after serving seven years on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics faculty. His interdisciplinary scholarship has led to innovative collaborations spanning sociology, economics, finance, computer science, biology, physiology, medicine, chemistry, materials science, physics, applied mathematics and education. His numerous publications are among the most frequently cited of any physicist worldwide. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Stanley is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. His many honors include the Materials Research Society David Turnbull Prize, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Boltzmann Medal, and the American Physical Society Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize and Nicholson Medal for Human Outreach.

Lonnie G. Thompson has pioneered the retrieval of ancient ice samples from remote tropical glaciers as evidence of global climate change. His more than 50 arduous expeditions on five continents have provided irrefutable evidence that the last 50 years have been the warmest in recorded history. In recognition of his work, Thompson was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2007. Named one of America’s top scientists by Cable News Network and Time magazine, he is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. Thompson’s many other honors include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Vega Medal from the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography.

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