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Northwestern to give five honorary degrees during 2017 commencement

Mariana Alfaro, Print Managing Editor

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Five “distinguished individuals” will receive honorary degrees from Northwestern during this year’s graduation ceremony, including commencement speaker Billie Jean King.

Harvard University Prof. Donald Rubin, Washington University School of Law Prof. Leila Sadat, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Garry Wills and science policymaker Wei Yang will join King at Ryan Field on graduation day, according to a University news release.

King, described in the release as a “champion of social change and equality,” has won 39 Grand Slam singles and has been a lifelong advocate for LGBTQ rights. She is also a recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Rubin joined the Harvard faculty in 1984 and is known for his work in the statistics field. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. NU’s award will be his fifth honorary degree, according to the University news release.

Sadat, director of the Crimes Against Humanity initiative and president-elect of the International Law Association, has taught at Washington University since 1992. She holds law degrees from three universities — Columbia University, Tulane University and the Sorbonne Law School at the University of Paris.

Wills, a journalist and author, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993. He has written more than 40 books and taught history at Johns Hopkins University for nearly 20 years. He has worked at NU since 1980 and now serves as professor emeritus.

Yang, president of the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China, was previously president of Zhejiang University in China and is an engineering expert. She holds a Ph.D. from Brown University and, according to the release, has made “fundamental contributions to the fields of fracture mechanics, mechatronic reliability and micro- and nanomechanics.”

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