Washington University to award six honorary degrees at 147th Commencement

Six distinguished individuals, including a pioneer of women in medicine and a multimedia entrepreneur, will receive honorary degrees May 16 during Washington University’s 147th Commencement ceremony.

The university also will bestow academic degrees on more than 2,500 students during the ceremony, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in Brookings Quadrangle.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” and a regular commentator on NBC’s “Today” show, will deliver the Commencement address. Matthews will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

The other honorary degree recipients and their degrees follow:

Quincy Jones, composer, conductor, solo artist and record, film and television producer, doctor of humane letters;

Lee Seng Tee, internationally recognized business executive, major philanthropist and patron of the arts, doctor of humane letters;

Phyllis Schlafly, national leader of the conservative movement, author and editor, doctor of humane letters;

Egon Schwarz, Ph.D., Washington University’s Rosa May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, professor emeritus in German in Arts & Sciences and leading scholar of 19th- and 20th-century German literature, doctor of humane letters; and

Jessie L. Ternberg, M.D., Ph.D., Washington University professor emerita of pediatrics and of pediatric surgery, renowned researcher and pioneer of women in medicine, doctor of science.


Jones is one of the most versatile, influential and successful figures in contemporary music. As a composer, arranger and conductor — as well as a record producer and solo artist — he has created some of the most memorable sounds of the last six decades.

At the same time, he has also emerged as a multimedia entrepreneur, blazing trails as a record company executive and as a film and television producer.

Born in Chicago in 1933, Jones joined Lionel Hampton’s band in the early 1950s and was soon arranging and recording for Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and other leading artists.

He released his first solo album in 1959 and two years later became vice president of Mercury Records — the first high-level African-American executive of an established major record company.

Over the years, Jones has produced landmark albums such as Frank Sinatra’s “Sinatra at the Sands” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and composed 33 film scores. He has been nominated for a record 79 Grammy Awards, winning 27.

He debuted as a film producer in 1985 with Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple,” which received 11 Oscar nominations. Other production credits include “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “MADtv” and adaptations of Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteeth” and David Halberstam’s “The Children.”

In 1993, Jones founded VIBE Magazine and in 2001 published a best-selling autobiography. He recently produced the “Encarta Africana,” an encyclopedia of African and African-American culture, with Harvard University and MicroSoft Corp.


Lee is recognized internationally as a successful business executive, major philanthropist and patron of the arts as a director of the Lee Group of Companies, a Singapore-based conglomerate of firms in industries that include rubber, pineapple, banking and investments.

Lee’s commitment to improving people’s lives has been demonstrated through both the generosity of the Lee Foundation, which Lee directs, and his personal support of and passion for promoting higher education worldwide.

In February 1942, Lee’s plans to attend college abroad were thwarted by the Japanese invasion of Singapore. He spent most of the war years in Singapore, and then left for the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from Wharton with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1950.

A champion of the arts, Lee has served as advisor to many cultural institutions and was named an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for his philanthropic support of libraries worldwide.

He has provided generous support through the Lee Foundation to Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy, a global partnership of leading research institutions that fosters research and collaboration on critical international issues.

In 2001, he was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is an honorary fellow of the British Academy.

Lee has received honorary degrees from many institutions including Oxford and Cambridge universities, the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.


Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author.

“Hardball with Chris Matthews” is one of MSNBC’s most popular programs. Matthews, who has served as its moderator since 1997, asks his guests — politicians, pundits and journalists — tough questions about a wide range of political and social issues during the hour-long show.

Since 2002, he has hosted “The Chris Matthews Show,” a syndicated weekly news program. The show features a roundtable discussion by Matthews and four other journalists on current political topics.

Matthews worked for 15 years (1987-2002) as a print journalist. During that time he was the Washington Bureau chief for The San Francisco Examiner and a nationally syndicated columnist.

In 1997 and 1998, his digging into the National Archives produced The San Francisco Examiner’s series of scoops on the Nixon presidential tapes.

Before moving into journalism, Matthews worked in the White House for four years under Jimmy Carter as a presidential speechwriter and on the President’s Reorganization Project. He also worked in the U.S. Senate on the staffs of Sen. Frank Moss (Utah) and Sen. Edmund Muskie (Maine) for five years and as the top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. for six years.

Matthews is the author of four best-selling books, including “Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game” (1988), required reading in many college-level political science courses.

A graduate of Holy Cross College, Matthews did graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Schlafly, a native St. Louisan and two-time Washington University graduate, has been a national leader of the conservative movement since the 1964 publication of her book, “A Choice Not An Echo.” With 3 million copies sold, it is listed as one of 10 best-selling conservative books of the past 50 years.

A prolific writer, Schlafly is the author or editor of 20 books on subjects as varied as the judiciary, family and feminism, nuclear strategy, child care and education.

She earned a bachelor’s in political science in Arts & Sciences from Washington University in 1944; a master’s in political science from Harvard University in 1945; and a juris doctorate from Washington University School of Law in 1978.

Her monthly newsletter, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, is in its 41st year of publication. Her syndicated column, started in 1977, appears in 100 newspapers. Her radio commentaries are heard on 500 stations.

Her leadership in the conservative movement stems from her books, articles and speeches and her efforts as a motivator and organizer of grassroots activism.

In 1972, she started a national pro-family volunteer organization and led a successful 10-year battle against the Equal Rights Amendment. She continues as president of the group, now known as the Eagle Forum.

Named one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century by Ladies Home Journal and one of the 10 most admired women in the world by Good Housekeeping, she is a well-known advocate for the role of a full-time homemaker.


A leading scholar of 19th- and 20th-century German literature, Schwarz is one of the United States’ most respected Germanists and is internationally recognized for his writing on the work of poet Rainer Maria Rilke and novelists Arthur Schnitzler, Herman Hesse and Thomas Mann, among others.

He is the author of “Verbannung” (1964), the first major study of the literary exiles who left Germany because of Adolf Hitler’s regime.

Born Aug. 8, 1922, in Vienna to Jewish parents, Schwarz was not yet 16 in March 1938 when the National Socialists assumed power in Austria, turning his life upside down. After many harrowing experiences and via circuitous routes, the Schwarz family arrived in South America. He moved to the United States in 1949 and taught at Washington University for 32 years.

He is the recipient of the Joseph von Eichendorff Medal (1986), the Austrian “Ehrenzeichen” for Science and the Arts (1990), the Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship Prize (1995), the Grand “Ehrenzeichen” for Services to the Republic of Austria (2007), the Cotta Prize for Literature of the city of Stuttgart (2008) as well as many other awards, including fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations.

His autobiography, “Keine Zeit für Eichendorff,” appeared in 1979 and was republished in 2006 as a paperback under the title “Unfreiwillige Wanderjahre.” An English translation was published in 2002 titled “Refuge: Chronicle of a Flight from Hitler.”


Ternberg blazed a trail for women physicians in her nearly four decades as a researcher and pediatric surgeon. Going into the field at a time when women were discouraged from entering, she was the first female surgical resident at Barnes Hospital, the first female surgeon on Washington University’s School of Medicine faculty and the first woman elected head of its faculty council.

During her tenure at the School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, she performed more than 500 operations a year. In addition, she led a surgical team in successfully separating two sets of twins joined at the pelvis, a very rare condition. Colleagues have described Ternberg’s surgeries as “works of art.”

Ternberg earned a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in 1946 with an eye on medical school. But scholarships were scarce, so she earned a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950. A year prior, she and Robert Eakin, Ph.D., reported their discovery of the mechanism by which Vitamin B-12 is absorbed in the intestine, helping to establish a cure for pernicious anemia.

Ternberg, who earned a medical degree from Washington University in 1953, joined the medical school faculty in 1959, and in 1971, she was appointed professor of surgery and associate professor of surgery in pediatrics. She became chief of pediatric surgery in 1972, and in 1975 she was named professor of surgery in pediatrics.

While at WUSTL, Ternberg studied free radicals using electron spin resonance and was able to show that differences in free radical levels exist between normal and cancerous tissues.