Washington University in St. Louis will award five honorary degrees during the university’s 150th Commencement May 20.
During the ceremony, which will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Brookings Quadrangle, WUSTL also will bestow academic degrees on approximately 2,800 students.
Elie Wiesel, a Nobel laureate, a Holocaust survivor and human rights activist, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from WUSTL.
The title of his talk is “Memory and Ethics.”
The other honorary degree recipients and their degrees are:
• John H. Biggs, PhD, former CEO of TIAA-CREF and former vice chancellor for administration and finance at Washington University, doctor of humane letters;
• Shirley Ann Jackson, PhD, the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., the oldest technological university in the United States, doctor of science;
• Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), doctor of science; and
• George W. von Mallinckrodt, KBE, president of Schroders plc, a global asset management company, doctor of laws.
Wiesel has worked on behalf of oppressed people for much of his adult life. His personal experience of the Holocaust has led him to use his talents as an author, teacher and storyteller to defend human rights and peace throughout the world.
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Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was 15 years old when the Nazis deported him and his family to Auschwitz.
His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer Francois Mauriac, Wiesel was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps.
The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, Night (La Nuit), which has since been translated into more than 30 languages and has sold millions of copies since its 1958 publication.
Soon after he won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, he and his wife, Marion, created The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, an organization to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice. He is president of the foundation.
Teaching has always been central to Wiesel’s work. Since 1976, he has been the Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also holds the title of University Professor. He is a member of the Faculty in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy.
Wiesel is the author of more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction, including his most recent, The Sonderberg Case (2010). He has also written plays, essays and short stories.
For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 1985, the Medal of Liberty in 1986, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and the 2009 National Humanities Medal in February 2010.
Biggs served as vice chancellor for administration and finance at Washington University from 1977-1985, and as chairman, president and chief executive officer of TIAA-CREF, the nation’s largest pension fund, from 1993-2002.
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He is credited with making innovative contributions to higher education pension plans and to the internal financial management of Washington University and other universities.
He is also recognized for influencing major changes in the oversight and regulatory structure of the auditing profession.
As a member of the Public Oversight Board, Biggs’ work helped Congress formulate the auditing provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a reaction to multiple accounting scandals, including Enron Corp.
Biggs, who earned a doctorate in economics in 1983 from Washington University while vice chancellor, created the university’s Tuition Stabilization Plan, which allowed parents to prepay students’ tuition and lock it in at the current rate for the next four years.
The plan — since expanded into Partners in Education with Parents — was the first of its kind in the country and widely copied by other institutions.
An advocate for protecting individuals’ retirement, Biggs created several inflation-resistant investment options at TIAA-CREF. He credits his time at Washington University with influencing his development of the Social Choice Fund, which invests in companies that meet or exceed certain environmental, social and governance criteria.
A member of Washington University’s Board of Trustee since 1984, Biggs, along with his wife, Penelope (MA, ’68, PhD, ’74), created a visiting lectureship in 1989 in the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences that annually brings an eminent scholar in Greek or Latin studies to campus.
They also established distinguished professorships in classics and economics.
Describing her as “a national treasure,” the National Science Board selected Jackson as its 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.”
Described by TIME magazine in 2005 as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” Jackson has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research and academe.
Since arriving at Rensselaer in 1999, she has fostered an extraordinary renaissance there through the development and implementation of The Rensselaer Plan, the institute’s strategic blueprint.
In April 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Jackson to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers that advises the president and vice president in policy areas where understanding of science, technology and innovation is key to strengthening the economy.
Prior to her leadership of Rensselaer, Jackson was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University; and a theoretical physicist conducting basic research at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories.
Jackson earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1968 and a doctorate in theoretical elementary particle physics in 1973, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
She serves on the board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution and on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. She is past president (2004) and chairman of the board (2005) of the AAAS. She is a vice chairman of the Council on Competitiveness and co-chaired its Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability initiative.
As director of the NIDDK since 2007, Rodgers oversees the institute’s research into some of the most serious public health issues today.
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The institute, which has a $2 billion annual budget, conducts and supports research on diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases and nutrition, including obesity; and kidney, urologic and blood diseases. It conducts and supports clinical research on the diseases of internal medicine and related fields as well as other basic science disciplines.
The institute also supports education programs to translate the results of research to health professionals, patients and the public.
Rodgers is internationally recognized for his contributions to the development of the first effective, and FDA approved, therapy for sickle cell anemia. More recently, he and his collaborators have reported on a modified blood stem-cell transplant regimen that is highly effective in reversing sickle cell disease in adults and is associated with relatively low toxicity.
He has received a variety of awards for this research, including the Scroll of Merit Award from the National Medical Association in 2010, a Mastership from the American College of Physicians in 2005, the 2000 Arthur S. Flemming Award and the 1998 Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award.
Rodgers earned undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees from Brown University, and later earned a master’s of business administration with a focus on the business of medicine from Johns Hopkins University in 2005.
He completed an internship, residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Hospital and the St. Louis VA Hospital. He then completed a fellowship in hematology/oncology through a joint program of the NIH with George Washington University and the Washington VA Medical Center.
Von Mallinckrodt retired as director of Schroders plc in 2008 after 55 years with the global asset management company, but stayed on as president.
In his career, he focused successfully on strategic challenges and significant value creation opportunities for Schroders, which has more than 200 years of experience in the world’s financial markets.
With Sir Win Bischoff, von Mallinckrodt developed Schroders into one of London’s largest integrated investment banks in the 1980s.
Today, Schroders is focused on asset management and has more than $300 billion in funds under management on behalf of institutional and retail investors, financial institutions and high net worth clients from around the world. It has more than 2,700 employees worldwide in 25 different countries.
Von Mallinckrodt joined the firm in New York in 1954 and moved to London in 1960 to develop the continental European business. He became a director of J. Henry Schroder Wagg & Co. Limited in 1967 and joined the parent company, now Schroders plc, in 1977 with responsibility for the United States, continental Europe and the Middle East.
In 1983, von Mallinckrodt became president and chief executive of Schroders in the United States. In 1984, he was appointed executive chairman of Schroders plc, a position he held until 1995 when he was appointed president.
In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of outstanding services rendered over many years to banking and finance.
In recognition of his contributions toward the enhancement of Anglo-German relations, he was awarded both the Officer’s Cross and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.