Northwestern University will award honorary degrees to seven people, ranging from a theater director to an aerospace engineer, at its 152nd annual commencement exercises Friday, June 18.
They are Thomas J. R. Hughes, professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin; Martha Lavey, artistic director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company; David Levering Lewis, the Julius Silver University Professor and professor of history at New York University; David Satcher, M.D., director of The Satcher Health Leadership Institute; Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University; Gabor A. Somorjai, University Professor and professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley; and Claude M. Steele, the provost of Columbia University.
Biographical sketches of the honorary degree recipients follow:
Thomas J. R. Hughes, professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, is a longtime leader in the field of finite elements. He is the author of the standard reference work "The Finite Element Method" and also has made seminal contributions to computational fluid and solid mechanics. He is the co-author of the influential books "Mathematical Foundations of Elasticity" and "Computational Inelasticity." A past president of the International Association for Computational Mechanics and recipient of its Gauss-Newton Medal, he also has received the Timoshenko Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Von Neumann Medal from the United States Association for Computational Mechanics. Hughes served for 22 years on the faculty of Stanford University. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Pratt Institute and master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.
Since 1995 Martha Lavey has been the artistic director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, one of America’s preeminent regional theaters. Under her leadership, Steppenwolf has transferred a number of productions to Broadway with great success, notably "August: Osage County," winner of the 2008 Tony Award for best play and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Active onstage as well as off, she has appeared at Chicago’s Goodman, Victory Gardens and Northlight theatres as well as in numerous Steppenwolf productions, including "Good Boys and True," "Love-Lies-Bleeding," "Lost Land" and "I Never Sang for My Father." In 2009 she was elected board president of the Theatre Communications Group, the organization dedicated to serving and promoting the nation’s professional not-for-profit theaters. Lavey earned her doctorate in performance studies at Northwestern, where she serves on the School of Communication’s National Advisory Council.
David Levering Lewis is the Julius Silver University Professor and professor of history at New York University. His definitive two-volume "W. E. B. DuBois: Biography of a Race" won, among numerous honors, the Pulitzer Prize for biography in both 1993 (for volume I) and 2000 (for volume II). Inaugural medalist of the John Hope Franklin Award, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. His many other honors include fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Previously he was the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. A graduate of Fisk University, Lewis earned his master’s degree at Columbia University and his doctoral degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., is director of The Satcher Health Leadership Institute, established in 2006 at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga. He was sworn in as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States in 1998. His tenure of public service also includes serving as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He was the first person to have served as director of the CDC and then Surgeon General of the United States. Satcher has held top leadership positions at the Charles R. Drew University for Medicine and Science, Meharry Medical College and the Morehouse School of Medicine.
Elaine Scarry, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University, is considered one of today’s most important interdisciplinary analysts of the imagination and its moral and social functions. She has merged aesthetics with science to produce groundbreaking books, including "The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World" and "Dreaming by the Book," winner of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. Her article on the crash of TWA Flight 800 prompted new research by the National Transportation Safety Board. Scarry’s numerous honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Getty Research Institute and Berlin’s Institute for Advanced Study. A graduate of Chatham College, Scarry earned her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut.
Gabor A. Somorjai, University Professor and professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, is considered the world’s preeminent scientist in the field of surface science and catalysis. He also is a faculty senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and director of the Surface Science and Catalysis Program in its materials science division. Somorjai has written three widely influential textbooks and more than 1,000 scholarly papers. His many honors include the National Medal of Science, the Israel Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the Materials Research Society’s Von Hippel Medal, the American Physical Society’s Langmuir Prize and the American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal. His honors also include the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, 10 honorary degrees and election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at Berkeley and has served on the faculty since 1964.
Claude M. Steele, the provost of Columbia University, is one of the nation’s preeminent social psychologists and is particularly known for his pioneering research on stereotype threat. His numerous honors include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, the Donald Campbell Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science, the Kurt Lewin Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and election to the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Previously Steele was the Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences at Stanford University and director of its Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. A graduate of Hiram College, Steele earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Ohio State University.