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Loescher, Storin among those to receive honorary degrees

Author: Arts and Letters


Twelve distinguished figures in business, science, the Catholic Church, medicine, literature, law, journalism and higher education will join the principal speaker, Irish President Mary McAleese, as honorary degree recipients at the University of Notre Dame’s 161st Commencement exercises May 21 (Sunday).

Degrees will be conferred on some 1,850 undergraduates and 550 advanced degree candidates in ceremonies beginning at 2p.m. (EST) in the Joyce Center on campus.

McAleese, now in her second term as Ireland’s president, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. The other honorees, listed alphabetically, are:

Landrum R. Bolling (doctor of laws) – A longtime leader in higher education, Bolling also is widely respected for his influential work as an international peace maker. Trained as a political scientist at the University of Tennessee and the University of Chicago, he began his career at Brown University and Beloit College, then worked as a foreign correspondent in Europe during World War II. He joined the Earlham College faculty in 1948 and was the Indiana college’s president from 1958 to 1973. Among his many roles since then, he has served as president and chairman of the board of Lilly Endowment Inc., chairman and chief executive officer of the National Council on Foundations, research professor in the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and president and rector of the Notre Dame-founded Ecumenical Institute in Israel. At age 92, he remains active as director-at-large and senior adviser for the international humanitarian relief agency Mercy Corps.

Dr. Kevin Cahill (doctor of science) – An internationally known expert on tropical medicine, Cahill holds a chaired professorship at Fordham University and is director of its Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University. He also holds positions with Lenox Hill Hospital, the New York University School of Medicine, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the United Nations Health Service. He has worked in 65 countries in disaster and crisis areas, including service with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. He also treated Pope John Paul II after the attempt on his life in 1981. Cahill has written and edited 29 books and more than 200 articles on subjects ranging from tropical disease, to humanitarian and foreign affairs, to public health. He also is president-general of the American-Irish Historical Society. He holds degrees from Fordham, the Cornell University School of Medicine, the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and the London School of Hygiene.

Anthony F. Earley Jr. (doctor of engineering) – Earley is chairman of the board, chief executive officer, chief operating officer and president of DTE Energy Company, a utility company that provides electricity to more than 2 million customers in Michigan through its subsidiary Detroit Edison. He served on nuclear submarines in the U.S. Navy before joining the utility industry and has expertise in legal issues pertaining to energy, the environment and nuclear safety. He was president and chief operating officer of Long Island Lighting before joining DTE. He earned three degrees – a bachelor’s in physics, a master’s in engineering, and law – from Notre Dame and serves on the University’s advisory council for the College of Engineering.

Norman C. Francis (doctor of humanities) – The president of Xavier University in New Orleans, Francis has led the nation’s only black Catholic college since 1968. During his tenure, Xavier’s enrollment has nearly tripled, its endowment has grown from $2 million to $18 million, and alumni contributions have soared from $15,000 to $300,000 annually. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame in 1988 for his commitment to education and civil rights, and is being honored again for his tireless work to rebuild his own institution and the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, he has advised state officials on planning and rebuilding efforts and has campaigned for increased federal and charitable funding to the city. In conjunction with former Presidents Bush and Clinton, he has secured federal grants in excess of $90 million for New Orleans colleges and churches to rebuild.

Harper Lee (doctor of humane letters) – Lee is the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel published in 1960 and one of the most well-read and best-loved pieces in American literature. The book tells of the trial of Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white woman. It is narrated by 6-year-old Scout, whose father, lawyer Atticus Finch, unsuccessfully argues for the defense. The novel was adapted for the screen and won three Academy Awards, including the best actor Oscar for Gregory Peck. Prior to writing her one and only published book, Lee accompanied Truman Capote to Holcombe, Kan., as a research assistant for his novel “In Cold Blood.” She studied at Huntington College and the University of Alabama but left school to pursue writing.

Gil Loescher (doctor of laws) – An emeritus professor of political science at Notre Dame, Loescher is the sole survivor of the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. The blast killed his colleague, Arthur Helton, UN envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others. Loescher lost both of his legs above the knee and suffered severe damage to his right hand and numerous shrapnel wounds. An expert on refugees and humanitarian issues, he was in Iraq on behalf of the International Institute for Strategic Studies assessing the cost of the war and occupation. He earned his doctorate in political science from the London School of Economics and taught and conducted research at Notre Dame from 1975 until advancing to emeritus status in 2001. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and is now serving as a senior research fellow at the Centre for International Studies at Oxford while continuing his recovery.

Francis C. Oakley (doctor of laws) – The president emeritus of Williams College, Oakley is a medieval political scholar who has written extensively on medieval and early modern intellectual and religious history, as well as on American higher education. Born in England of Irish immigrant parents, he was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto; and Yale University, where he earned his doctorate. After teaching history for two years at Yale, he joined the faculty of Williams in 1961 and was promoted to full professor in 1970 and appointed the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor in the History of Ideas in 1984. He served as the college’s president from 1985 to 1993. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies. He currently serves as senior fellow at the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Williams.

Karen Rauenhorst (doctor of laws) – A Minneapolis-area community leader and philanthropist, Rauenhorst serves on a wide variety of organizations associated with the Catholic Church and education. A nurse for 20 years, she earned nursing degrees from Creighton University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Minnesota. She serves on the boards of Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Community Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, and the College of St. Catherine. She and her husband, Mark, head the Mark and Karen Rauenhorst Family Foundation, a member of the Minnesota Council of Foundations. She received the Red Knight Leadership Award in 2005 from Benilde-St. Margaret’s School for leadership, commitment and contribution for the betterment of the school, Church and community. Mark Rauenhorst is the president and chief executive officer of Opus Corporation, a large industrial developer, and a member of the advisory council for Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

John F. “Jack” Sandner (doctor of laws) – The retired chair of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Sandner continues to serve on the board and as special policy advisor. He recently was appointed chair of the new futures group of E*trade Securities. Under his chairmanship, the Merc launched numerous new initiatives, including Eurodollars, Stock Indexes and Globex, the first futures electronic trading platform. He was part of the team that led the exchange’s initial public offering in 2002, one of the most successful in recent years. A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, he has served on the University’s Board of Trustees since 1993 after previously serving on the law school’s advisory council. He has been appointed to several industry, presidential and congressional boards and commissions, including the National Futures Association, the U.S. Advisory Financial Services Commission, the Export Council, and the National Digital Strategic Advisory Board of the Library of Congress. He also is actively involved in numerous Chicago civic boards and is the recipient of the Horatio Alger Award and a Points of Light Award.

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan (doctor of laws) – The archbishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe, N.M., since 1993, Archbishop Sheehan has been praised for his leadership in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal in the archdiocese prior to his arrival. During his tenure, the number of registered Catholic families in the archdiocese has increased by 50 percent. Born in Wichita, Kan., and raised in Texarkana, Texas, Archbishop Sheehan was educated at Saint John’s Seminary and Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, and the Gregorian University and Lateran University in Rome. He was ordained as a priest in the Dallas-Fort Worth Diocese in 1964. For the next 20 years he served in several roles – associate pastor for the Immaculate Conception Parish in Tyler, Texas, assistant general secretary for the National Conference for Catholic Bishops, rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, and pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Grand Prairie, Texas. He was appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of Lubbock, Texas, in 1983. He served for five months in 2003 as apostolic administrator of the Phoenix Diocese.

Matthew V. Storin (doctor of laws) – A 1964 graduate of Notre Dame, Storin ranks among the nation’s most respected journalists. Most notably, he served for nine years as editor of the Boston Globe, during which time the newspaper won four Pulitzer Prizes. Prior to his appointment as editor, he held a variety of reporting, editing and management positions at the Globe, including managing editor, national editor, deputy managing editor, White House correspondent, metropolitan editor, and Asian bureau chief. He also served as deputy managing editor for national affairs with U.S. News & World Report, editor and senior vice president of the Chicago Sun-Times, editor of the Maine Times, and managing editor and executive editor of the New York Daily News. After retiring from the Globe in 2001, he held a fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he compiled research that led to an article titled “While America Slept: Coverage of Terrorism from 1993 to September 11, 2001,” which was published in the book “Terrorism, War, and the Press.” From 2002 until earlier this year, he was Notre Dame’s principal spokesman and associate vice president for news and information. He currently is an adjunct professor of American studies at the University, teaching in its Gallivan Program for Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Thomas P. Sullivan (doctor of laws) – Among the nation’s most well-respected trial lawyers, Sullivan has worked to improve the criminal justice system, with an emphasis on helping the poor and disenfranchised. In recent years, he has focused on death penalty reform as chair of the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee and co-chair of the Commission on Capital Punishment, which resulted in the blanket commutation of death sentences in the state. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Loras College and law degree from Loyola University in Chicago. Other than serving for four years as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, he has spent his entire legal career in the Chicago firm Jenner & Block. His many honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Legal Assistance Foundation, the John Minor Wisdom Public Service and Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association, and the Justice John Paul Stevens Award.

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck also will be honored at Commencement with the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame’s highest honor and widely considered the most prestigious award presented to American Catholics.

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on April 11, 2006.