Washington University in St. Louis will award five honorary degrees during its 162nd Commencement May 15.

During the ceremony, the university will also bestow academic degrees on more than 3,400 members of the Class of 2023.

Sterling K. Brown, a St. Louis native and an award-winning actor and producer, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.

The other honorary degree recipients and their degrees are:

  • Maxine Clark, entrepreneur, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop and co-founder of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation that supports the economic development of the St. Louis metropolitan region, doctor of laws;
    • Anthony S. Fauci, MD, recently retired director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), medical adviser to seven U.S. presidents, doctor of science;
    • Alphonso Jackson, the nation’s 13th secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and a Washington University alumnus, doctor of laws; and
    • Paul Michael Lützeler, the Rosa May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Washington University, a leading scholar of German literature, doctor of humanities.

    Honorary degree recipients

    Brown, a three-time Emmy Award-winning actor and producer, is best known for starring in NBC’s critically acclaimed drama series “This Is Us.” For his role as Randall Pearson, Brown has received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as well as five consecutive nominations in the category. He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first African American actor to win his category in the award show’s 75-year history.

    Sterling K. Brown headshot

    Brown also made history by becoming the first African American actor to receive the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama. In addition, he received two SAG awards alongside his cast for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, as well as the African American Film Critics Association Best Actor award for two consecutive years. In 2018, Brown was included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world.

    His film “Biosphere” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will release in July 2023. He also is soon to be seen in and producing Hulu’s limited series “Washington Black,” an adaptation of Esi Edugyan’s novel, and is in production on the Netflix film “Atlas,” opposite Jennifer Lopez. In 2022, Brown starred in and produced “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He received an NAACP Image Award nomination for his role.

    In 2018, Brown created Indian Meadows Productions. The company’s chief mandate is to champion diversity through the development and production of entertaining, educational and inclusive projects across multiple forms of media, including film, broadcast, cable and streaming.

    He graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1998. Then he earned a master’s in fine arts from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

    Clark is a true innovator in the retail industry. In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. Today there are nearly 500 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide. Cumulative sales have exceeded $7 billion and over 225 million stuffed animals have been sold worldwide. In 2022, Build-A-Bear celebrated its 25th anniversary.

    Maxine Clark headshot

    In 2013, Clark stepped down from her chief executive bear role to use her entrepreneurial skills to create access for more St. Louis families. Her latest venture is the Delmar Divine — the transformation of the historic St. Luke’s Hospital into a multiuse real estate development that opened in 2021.

    In addition to her seat on the Build-A-Bear Workshop board, Clark is active on many other boards, including those of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Goldfarb School of Nursing, Operation Food Search, PBS and St. Louis Teach for America.

    Clark and her husband, Bob Fox, are longtime friends of Washington University. Clark is an emeritus member of the Washington University Board of Trustees and a member of the Brown School National Council and the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship National Council. In 2015, Clark and Fox funded the Clark-Fox Policy Institute and Forum at the Brown School and the Fox-Clark Civic Scholars at the Gephardt Institute of Civic and Community Engagement.

    Clark is a graduate of the University of Georgia and holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from Saint Louis University, an honorary doctor in human letters from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and an honorary associate’s degree from St. Louis Community College.

    Fauci served as NIAID director from 1984 through this past December and oversaw an extensive research portfolio on domestic and global health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, presented him with perhaps the most formidable challenge of his career. He became the widely recognized face of public health as he worked to stem the spread of the virus and accelerate development of lifesaving vaccines and therapies.

    Anthony Fauci headshot

    At NIAID, Fauci oversaw the institute’s basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola, Zika and COVID-19. He was a key figure in confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic when it surfaced in the early 1980s, and he was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that has saved more than 25 million lives throughout the developing world.

    He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award for Public Service and the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians. He earned his medical degree from Cornell University’s Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medicine) in New York City, where he ranked first in his graduating class.

    Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

    When President George W. Bush nominated Jackson to serve as HUD secretary, he described Jackson as a “man who understands the struggles and hopes of urban America.” Jackson was unanimously confirmed HUD secretary by the U.S. Senate in March 2004.

    Alphonso Jackson headshot

    After earning his juris doctor from Washington University School of Law in 1973, Jackson was named an assistant professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where he also served as special assistant to the chancellor. He was director of public safety for the city of St. Louis from 1977 to 1981, and later executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority. He also served as director of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in Washington, D.C., and president and CEO of the Housing Authority of the city of Dallas.

    Prior to his U.S. government service, he was named president and chief operating officer of American Electric Power-Texas, a $13 billion utility company and subsidiary of American Electric Power.

    He joined the Bush administration in 2001 as deputy secretary and chief operating officer of HUD, where he managed the daily operations of the $36 billion agency. In August 2004, Jackson became the nation’s 13th HUD secretary.

    A 2004 recipient of WashU’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Jackson has returned to his alma mater to lecture. While HUD secretary, he met with the McDonnell International Scholars Academy members in Washington to discuss the challenges of economic and social development.

    Lützeler, the Rosa May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities in Arts & Sciences, taught for nearly 50 years at Washington University and is a renowned scholar of German studies and comparative literature.

    Paul Michael Lützeler headshot

    Lützeler was born in Doveren, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in 1968. After earning his doctorate in German literature at Indiana University, he became a professor at Washington University in 1973.

    From 1983-88, he was chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. In this role, he founded the university’s European Studies program and was the program coordinator for 20 years. Lützeler also taught in the Comparative Literature and Global Studies programs. 

    While German department chair, Lützeler founded the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature and was director of the center until spring 2022. In addition to its literary holdings, the center sponsors a visitor’s program and organizes weekend seminars for doctoral students and young faculty members from all over the United States. 

    Lützeler is an expert on Jewish-Austrian author Hermann Broch. He wrote the book “Hermann Broch. A Biography,” which received the DAAD Prize of the German Studies Association and was published in four languages.

    He received medals of merit from the governments of Germany and Austria, the Goethe Institute, the German Academy for Language and Literature, the German Studies Association and the German-American Heritage Society. In 2015, he was the recipient of Washington University’s Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award.

    For more information about the ceremony, visit the Commencement website.

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