In addition to journalist Jim Lehrer receiving an honorary degree as the speaker at this year’s 246th Commencement, four others will receive honorary degrees for their influential life’s work, the Office of the Secretary announced.
Lehrer (Current, Feb. 7) is the world-renowned host of “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and the recipient of more than 30 awards for journalistic excellence. The others to receive honorary degrees at the May 13 ceremony are:
- Joan Ganz Cooney, who cofounded the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) and launched the first episode of “Sesame Street” in 1969, is a pioneer in the educational uses of television for children. A producer and media executive, Cooney uses television to communicate basic skills, model social behavior and encourage a love of learning among preschoolers.
- Eric Hobsbawm has authored acclaimed works on labor movements, working-class culture, jazz, Italian social movements, bandits, nationalism and left-wing politics. A well-known historian, Hobsbawn is the author of a four-volume series on the modern world, beginning with “The Age of Revolution, 1789-1848” (Vintage Books, 1996) and ending with “The Age of Extremes, 1914-1991” (Vintage Books, 1996).
- Irwin Jacobs, chairman and CEO of QUALCOMM, received the 1994 National Medal of Technology, the highest award bestowed by the President of the United States for achievements in the commercialization of technology or the development of human resources that foster technology commercialization. His pioneering work on Code Division Multiple Access has made it the world’s fastest-growing, most advanced digital wireless communications technology.
- Richard Smalley’s research in chemical physics led to the discovery of a third elemental form of carbon, known as C60 or buckminsterfullerene. The soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules, or buckyballs for short, have helped scientists generate fibers that are 100 times stronger than steel but only one-sixth the weight.
Speaking at this year’s Baccalaureate ceremony will be James O’Donnell, vice provost for Information Systems and Computing and professor of classical studies. Author of a three-volume edition, “Augustine’s Confessions” (Clarendon Press, 1992), O’Donnell is now at work writing “What Augustine Didn’t Confess.” He will end his 21 years at Penn in July to become provost of Georgetown University.
Originally published on April 25, 2002