Five recommended for honorary degrees at Spring Commencement


Michael Bloomberg, internationally known business leader and statesman, will deliver the Spring Commencement address for the Ann Arbor campus April 30 at Michigan Stadium.

Bloomberg will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

He is among five individuals recommended for honorary degrees who will be considered by the Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday. The others are:

• Michael Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging young people in a year of national service, Doctor of Laws. His degree will be conferred at the UM-Dearborn ceremony at 2:30 p.m. May 1 at the Crisler Center.

• Michele Oka Doner, artist and U-M alumna known for her pioneering and multidisciplinary contributions to visual culture, Doctor of Arts.

• Mary-Claire King, world leader in cancer genetics and the use of genomics to address social injustice, Doctor of Science. King also is delivering the commencement address for the Rackham Graduate Ceremony, at 10 a.m. April 29 in Hill Auditorium.

• Beverly Daniel Tatum, Spelman College President Emerita, psychologist and U-M alumna, Doctor of Laws.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

New York City mayor from 2002-13, Bloomberg exemplifies innovation and entrepreneurship in his public service, professional endeavors and philanthropy. He now serves the United Nations as its Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change.

Bloomberg revolutionized information technology in 1981 when he founded Bloomberg L.P. and unveiled the Bloomberg Terminal, which organizes and analyzes real-time financial and economic data. Today, Bloomberg L.P. has more than 16,000 employees in 192 locations worldwide, delivering business and financial information, news and insights to a global audience.

Born in Boston, Bloomberg grew up in nearby Medford, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering (1964) from Johns Hopkins University, where he was class president, and a Master of Business Administration degree (1966) from Harvard Business School. Prior to launching Bloomberg L.P., he worked at the securities brokerage Salomon Brothers.

Bloomberg’s philanthropic commitment to the arts, education, the environment, government innovation and public health has grown along with his business.

He has donated more than $4.3 billion, including $100 million to help eradicate polio, $250 million to improve road safety, and $600 million to reduce global tobacco use. His tobacco control initiative has saved 25 million lives since its launch in 2007.

He has served on the boards of numerous charitable, cultural and educational institutions, including Johns Hopkins, where he chaired the board of the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

As New York’s mayor, he led the city back from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, rebuilding Lower Manhattan and revitalizing long-neglected neighborhoods. He turned around the city’s public education system, raising high school graduation rates by more than 40 percent, while cutting crime by 32 percent and driving job growth to record highs. He created hundreds of acres of new parks, revitalized the waterfront, and championed public art.

He also enacted the city’s first smoking ban for all commercial establishments and ended the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants, policies that have since spread across the nation. During his terms as mayor, the average life expectancy of residents increased three years, two years more than the national average. He cut pollution and reduced the city’s carbon footprint by 19 percent.

As the U.N.’s special envoy, Bloomberg helps cities set and reach more ambitious climate goals. He also is president of the board of the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a network of megacities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He is chairman of the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. Bloomberg has received accolades including the Genesis Prize, and in 2014 Queen Elizabeth II named him an honorary knight. He also has received France’s top civilian honor, the Legion of Honor.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

Armed with a vision for young adults from all backgrounds to perform a year of community service, nationally prominent social entrepreneur Brown and his Harvard Law School roommate Alan Khazei launched City Year in Boston in 1988.

Since then more than 22,500 City Year corps members have contributed approximately 33.5 million hours of service and earned access to $71 million in college scholarships through the AmeriCorps National Service Trust.

This year, 3,000 City Year AmeriCorps members are serving as tutors, mentors and role models in schools in 27 United States cities with high dropout rates. This creates an environment in each school that nurtures students and helps them cope with personal and academic challenges. City Year also has affiliates in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Born and raised in Boston, Brown received a Bachelor of Arts degree (1983) from Harvard College and a Doctor of Law degree (1988) from Harvard Law School. As an undergraduate, he took a year off school to work for U.S. Rep. Leon Panetta and became intrigued with the representative’s proposal for a national community service program.

Brown and Khazei began City Year with 50 recruits who served in various community settings and received small stipends for living expenses. The initiative inspired President Bill Clinton to sign the National Community Service Trust Act in 1993 and create AmeriCorps. Since then, more than 900,000 Americans have served as AmeriCorps volunteers.

In 2007, City Year sharpened its focus to serve children at risk of joining the million U.S. students who drop out of school each year. City Year addresses the early warning indicators that research has shown make it possible to identify potential high school dropouts in elementary school: poor attendance, disruptive behavior and failing grades in math or English.

A recent third-party evaluation showed that schools with City Year teams were up to two-to-three times more likely to increase English and math proficiency rates compared to similar schools without the program. City Year is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, school district partnerships, and donations from corporations, foundations and individuals.

A renowned speaker on issues relating to youth policy and national service, Brown is a past board member of Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations and corporate giving programs.

Among other honors, Brown has received Independent Sector’s John W. Gardner Leadership Award, the American Institute for Public Service Jefferson Award, the Boston Bar Association Public Service Award, Harvard Law School Association Award, and Reebok Human Rights Award. U.S. News & World Report selected him one of America’s Best Leaders and The NonProfit Times listed him among the Power and Influence Top 50 in 2015.

Michele Oka Doner

Michele Oka Doner

Doner is an artist known for the fresh lens she brings to the natural world and its processes. Her best-known work, “A Walk on the Beach” (1995-2010) at Miami International Airport, celebrates her native Florida.

Doner was born in Miami Beach, where she spent her childhood closely observing nature. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Design degree (1966) and a Master of Fine Arts degree (1968) from the College of Architecture and Design, now the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

For five decades, she has conveyed a reverence for the physical and spiritual through her symbolic language, a prescience of today’s growing ecology movement.

A turning point in her career occurred in 1987, when she won a national competition and commission for “Radiant Site” (1990), a wall of 11,000 gold luster tiles at New York City’s Herald Square subway station. More than 30 other major public commissions followed, including “Flight” (1997) at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and “Wave & Gate” (2003) at the Dan M. Russell, Jr. Federal Courthouse in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Her functional objects, furniture, jewelry, prints and sculptures are treasured by private collectors and are in public collections worldwide, including at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

She has contributed significantly to the university through her public art, gifts to the U-M Museum of Art, and as an artist-in-residence and a Penny W. Stamps Speaker Series presenter.

The Ann Arbor campus is home to, among other works, “Angry Neptune,” “Salacia,” and “Strider” (2008) outside UMMA; “Science Benches” (1990) on Ingalls Mall, “Positron” (1996) near the Randall Laboratory, and “Ancient Arb” (2011) at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Doner has co-authored, among other books, the social history “Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden” (2007). Her new book “Into the Mysterium” (2016) celebrates the beauty and inherent life force in the increasingly endangered pelagic ecosystem. She also brings an illuminating underwater perspective to her set and costume designs for Miami City Ballet’s 30th anniversary production this spring of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Doner serves on the UMMA National Leadership Council, is a founding board member of the Wolfsonian-Florida International University Museum, and is a former trustee of the Pratt Institute and BOMB Magazine.

She has received numerous accolades, including the Pratt Institute Legends Award, United Nations Society of Writers and Artists Award of Excellence, and the Stamps School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Mary-Claire King

Mary-Claire King

Pioneering molecular geneticist King, the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine (Medical Genetics) and of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, identifies and characterizes critical genes in families and populations.

She led the discovery and identification of BRCA1, a gene that when mutant increases the vulnerability of women to breast cancer. The 1990 proof of existence of BRCA1, and its cloning in 1994, were early steps in the application of human genetics to identify and treat inherited disease.

She has also led the campaign to bring testing for BRCA1 to the clinic and advocates that all women, even those without a family history of the disease, be offered testing for mutations predisposing to breast cancer. King has spoken persuasively about the harm of patenting genes, which limits their clinical use.

Born in Wilmette, Illinois, King earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics (1967) from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in genetics (1973) from the University of California, Berkeley, where she demonstrated that humans and chimpanzees are 99 percent genetically identical.

After postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco, she held faculty appointments in genetics at Berkeley from 1976 until 1995, then joined the faculty at the University of Washington.

King has published more than 300 journal articles. She works with scientists around the world, including at U-M, to identify genetic causes of hearing loss and cloned one of the first genes for non-syndromic deafness. She also studies genetic bases of influences on schizophrenia and severe congenital disorders.

In 1984, in response to requests from grandmothers in Argentina, she developed the use of mitochondrial DNA to identify children who were stolen from dissidents’ families during Argentina’s Dirty War, 1975-83. She also has used these genetic tools to identify victims of violence in Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Rwanda.

A past president of the American Society for Human Genetics, she contributes to the Human Genome Diversity Project, which seeks to advance understanding of human evolution and historical migrations. King is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

Among other honors, she received the Peter Gruber Foundation Genetics Prize, the A.H. Heineken Prize for Medicine from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize. She was recognized in 2014 with the Lasker Foundation Special Achievement Award in Medical Science.

Beverly Daniel Tatum

Beverly Daniel Tatum

Tatum is a distinguished and inspirational leader in higher education and a renowned race relations expert. Through her research on development of racial identity she has increased understanding of the influence of race and privilege in educational settings and sparked crucial conversations about how race frames society’s norms and power dynamics.

Born in Tallahassee, Florida, she grew up in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where she often was the only black student in class. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology (1975) from Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts degree (1976) and Ph.D. (1984) in clinical psychology from U-M, and Master of Arts in religious studies (2000) from Hartford Seminary.

Tatum taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Westfield State University before joining the Mount Holyoke College faculty in 1989, where she served as dean and acting president.

President of Spelman from 2002 until she retired in 2015, Tatum led the college through an innovative and dynamic period during which alumni giving and student scholarship support tripled. The Gordon Zeto Fund for International Initiatives, established in 2008, expanded travel opportunities for faculty and students and increased funding for international students. Today Spelman is among the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges.

Tatum currently is updating her book “‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’ And Other Conversations about Race” (1997), which addresses racial identity development in both whites and youth of color. The National Association of Multicultural Education selected it the 1998 Multicultural Book of the Year.

She also wrote “Assimilation Blues: Black Families in White Communities: Who Succeeds and Why?” (1987) and “‘Can We Talk About Race?’ And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation” (2007).

She has provided diversity training to hundreds of individuals and groups and led multicultural organizational development sessions around the country. A role model and mentor, Tatum has encouraged many outstanding students to pursue advanced degrees at Michigan.

She also has enriched the campus as a King-Chávez-Parks Visiting Professor and presenter at the LSA theme semester commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

Tatum is a member of the American Philosophical Society and an American Psychological Association fellow, receiving its highest honor, the Award for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology, in 2014.

She also has been recognized with the American Council on Education Donna Shavlik Award, Brock International Prize in Education, and Carnegie Academic Leadership Award.

She serves on the boards of the Educational Testing Service, Georgia Power, Institute for International Education, Teach for America, and several Atlanta organizations.



  1. Richard White
    on March 23, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    The speaker at my commencement was Gerald Ford, it was a very rambling and at time incoherent speech.

  2. Mike Summers
    on March 31, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Seriously? Nanny Bloomberg? Excuse me, Sir Doctor .00001% Nanny Billionaire Bloomberg. Better hide your soft drinks, your food, yours guns and your freedom. According to this article, he personally made people live 3 years longer! Amazing.

    • Susan Baird
      on March 31, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Mike, you said it better than I could have. I find it ironic that most liberals condemn the 1% yet here again is one more on a golden pedestal… Earn your money in a capitalist society then start taking away the freedoms which prevent many more from achieving their dreams. Pathetic.

  3. James Plagens
    on April 2, 2016 at 11:04 am

    In biggest matchup ever, MSU soundly defeats and embarasses U-M once again. MSU’s commencement speaker is MSU alumna Mona Hanna-Attisha, assistant professor of pediatrics at the MSU College of Human Medicine and director of the pediatric residency program at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint–whose study exposed elevated lead blood levels in Flint children. U-M’s commencement speaker is Michael Bloomberg, a graduate of John Hopkins University, who has amassed $40+ billion in wealth (10th richest man in the world) while 22% of American children live below the poverty line.

  4. G.M. Freeman
    on April 4, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    I’m not rich by any standard. However, why the animus toward Bloomberg? There were no accusations that he made his money illegally. Weren’t the streets of NYC much safer during his mayoralty than under the current far left mayor?

    Just because a person is rich doesn’t mean he deserves calumny. Or does it?

  5. John Doe
    on April 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    This just in….concessions at Michigan Stadium will not be allowed to serve soft drinks larger than 16 oz. This speaker perfect for Ann Arbor.

  6. James Jefferson
    on April 28, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    For a second I thought UM had finally jumped the PC shark…Thank goodness it’s not THAT Michael Brown.

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