Four recommended for honorary degrees at Winter Commencement


A legendary jazz double bassist, a philanthropist to the visual and performing arts, a renowned global health leader and an innovator in medical education are scheduled to receive honorary degrees at Winter Commencement 2016 on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus.

Dr. Julio Frenk, University of Miami president, policy maker, global health leader, U-M alumnus and a fourth-generation physician, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and deliver the commencement address at 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at Crisler Center.

Also receiving honorary degrees are Ronald Levin Carter, Doctor of Music; Maxine Frankel, Doctor of Fine Arts; and Dr. Michael Johns, Doctor of Science.

The degrees are pending approval by the Board of Regents at its meeting Thursday.

Ronald Carter

Ronald Carter

Carter, legendary jazz double bassist and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Music at the City College of New York, is a renowned musician, composer, bandleader and educator. An esteemed faculty member in jazz bass and jazz studies at City College for two decades, he currently teaches in the jazz studies program at The Julliard School.

Born in Ferndale, Michigan, Carter grew up in Detroit. He performed with the Ann Arbor Youth Symphony, graduated from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School as a classical performer on cello and bass, and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1959 from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music in double bass in 1961 from the Manhattan Conservatory of Music.

The Guinness World Records recognized him in 2016 as the most recorded jazz bassist in history. His more than 2,200 recording credits include seminal work with Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley, Lena Horne and B.B. King, as well as 25 recordings with the acclaimed Miles Davis Quintet.

In addition to performing at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and jazz festivals, including as artist-in-residence at the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival, he has composed, scored and arranged music for films, including “The Passion of Beatrice” and “Blind Faith”, the television drama “A Gathering of Old Men”, and “What is New Orleans?”, an episode from the Home Box Office series “Treme.” He has written and recorded 136 songs and continues to arrange for his trio, quartet and nonet. 

He invented the piccolo bass and has authored a series of books, including “Building Jazz Bass Lines,” “Ron Carter Comprehensive Bass Method” and “Ron Carter Bass Solos: Transcribed from 22 Classic Standards.”

Carter devotes considerable energy to lecturing, conducting and performing at master classes and sharing valuable lessons about the business of music with young artists. He led the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies and serves on the Jazz Foundation of America advisory committee, where he works to support elderly jazz musicians, including Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Carter is a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and has garnered many other accolades, including a Grammy Award as a member of the Miles Davis Tribute Band for best jazz instrumental group in 1993 and another Grammy in 1998 for the instrumental composition “Call Sheet Blues” from the film “Round Midnight.”

He received the Eastman School’s Hutchinson Award, the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, France’s Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters medallion, and the Donostiako Jazzaldia Award at the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain. He is a member of the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame and recipient of the 2016 Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation BNY (Bank of New York) Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award.

Maxine Frankel

Maxine Frankel

Frankel is a philanthropist, patron of the arts and U-M alumna who strives to make the visual and performing arts accessible to as many people as possible. Her passionate support for the arts is fueled by her belief that exposure to art and music expands minds and enriches lives by sparking fresh ways of seeing, hearing and thinking, and is integral to a well-rounded education.

A native Detroiter, Frankel attended classes on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus from 1961 to 1964 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966 from UM-Dearborn. In 1964, she and her husband, Stuart, president of the Stuart Frankel Development Co., moved to New York City, where she explored galleries, museums and the theater. In 1999, they established the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art and the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Charitable Foundation.

The Frankels support the visual and performing arts in a variety of ways. Pieces from their renowned art collection of 20th- and 21st-century works by more than 450 artists are loaned to museums worldwide. In the early 2000s, the Frankels were the catalyst for a major Cranbrook Art Museum renovation. She chaired the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum Board of Governors for more than a decade, and continues to serve on that board and the Cranbrook Educational Community Board of Trustees.

In 2006, they made a lead gift to the U-M Museum of Art to build a 53,000-square-foot addition, providing an auditorium, space for contemporary art exhibitions, classes and art restoration. Frankel also serves on the UMMA National Leadership Council.

In the performing arts, the Frankels have commissioned works by several contemporary classical music composers and have been pivotal in initiating and supporting the University Musical Society Renegade Series, bringing cutting edge performances to the region. Frankel serves on the UMS National Council and co-chairs UMS fundraising for the Victors for Michigan Campaign.

She co-chaired the Michigan Difference National Campaign Leadership Committee, which helped raise $3.2 billion from 2002-08, and currently serves on the President’s Advisory Group and U-M’s Bicentennial Advisory Committee. She also has supported the U-M Health System, where her father was an alumnus. Additionally, she is a member of the boards of the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York City and trustee emerita of Independent Curators International.

Among other honors, Frankel received U-M’s David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership in 2009, delivered the School of Music, Theatre & Dance commencement address in 2011, and was awarded an honorary degree by the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2015. The Frankels also received the ArtServe Michigan Governor’s Awards for Arts & Culture Civic Leader Award and the National Art Education Association Distinguished Service (Outside the Profession) Award.

Dr. Julio Frenk

Julio Frenk

Frenk, University of Miami president, renowned global health leader, policy maker and U-M alumnus, is a fourth-generation physician whose paternal grandparents fled Germany in the 1930s for a new life in Mexico. Frenk’s gratitude for the kindness of strangers has inspired him to improve well-being, reduce poverty and spread knowledge around the world.

Born in Mexico City, Frenk earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from the National University of Mexico in 1979 and a Master of Public Health in 1981, a Master of Arts in sociology in 1982, and a joint Doctor of Philosophy in medical care organization and sociology in 1983, all from U-M.

A pragmatic idealist renowned for bold innovations, he was founding director of the Center of Public Health Research in Mexico’s Ministry of Health and of the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico. In 1998, he joined the World Health Organization, where he led efforts to develop a scientific foundation for health policy to achieve better outcomes.

As Mexico’s minister of health from 2000-06, Frenk reformed the country’s health system and introduced Seguro Popular, a comprehensive universal insurance program that extended health care coverage to 50 million people. He also played a lead role in designing and implementing the Oportunidades program, which provides cash payments to families in exchange for regular school attendance, health clinic visits and nutritional support.

Frenk served as a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, president of the Carso Health Institute in Mexico City, and is founding board chair of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Frenk led the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for six years as the school’s dean, where he also was the T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development. In his first year as president of the University of Miami, he has spearheaded efforts to more closely integrate the university’s health system and to advance scholarship, education innovation and research impact across the university.

He has authored 28 books and monographs, more than 150 journal articles, and two best-selling children’s novels about human physiology. He also co-edited a collection of essays titled “To Save Humanity: What Matters Most for a Healthy Future.” A loyal and engaged Michigan alumnus, Frenk helped the School of Public Health develop and launch its global health curriculum and has lectured at the school on many occasions.

He is a member of numerous professional associations, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico. Among other honors, Frenk received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for changing “the way practitioners and policy makers across the world think about health.”

Dr. Michael Johns

Michael Johns

Johns, Emory University executive vice president for health affairs emeritus and professor at the Emory School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, is internationally recognized for the administrative leadership and vision he brings to large, complex health care organizations. The U-M alumnus, a respected surgeon specializing in head and neck cancers, is also an innovator in medical education and a champion of health care system reform.

The Detroit native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1964 from Wayne State University and a Doctor of Medicine with distinction in 1969 from the U-M Medical School, where he completed an otolaryngology internship and residency in 1975. He was a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps and assistant chief of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Otolaryngology Service before joining the University of Virginia Medical Center faculty in 1977.

Recruited by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 1984, he went on to serve as medical school dean and vice president of the Johns Hopkins University medical faculty from 1990-96. He initiated major curriculum reforms and a model technology transfer program, among other advances.

Johns was appointed Emory University’s executive vice president for health affairs and chief executive officer of the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center in 1996 and served as Emory’s chancellor from 2007-12.

An inspiring mentor and role model, he helps others excel. He also is a loyal Michigan alumnus. Johns served on the Medical Center Alumni Society Visiting Committee and provided critical leadership as U-M’s interim executive vice president for medical affairs from June 2014 to February 2015. He frequently works with government policymakers on topics ranging from the future of health professions education to national health system reform.

He has published 195 research papers and other articles and book chapters and co-authored “Predictive Health: How We Can Reinvent Medicine to Extend Our Best Years.” Nationally, Johns edited the Archives of Otolaryngology for many years, and this year completes his 24th year on the Journal of the American Medical Association editorial board. He chaired the American Board of Otolaryngology and American Association of Medical College Council of Teaching Hospitals and the AAMC Institute for the Improvement of Medical Education advisory board.

He also served as vice chair of the Institute of Medicine Council, chaired the IOM’s committee on resident work hours and patient safety and has served on many other boards. Johns is an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow and received, among other honors, the U-M Medical Center Alumni Society Distinguished Achievement Award in 2006 and Castle Connelly National Physician of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015.



  1. Garland Joan
    on October 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Congratulations to all of the recipients, but especially to Maxine Frankel, my childhood friend and former roommate freshman year at the University of Michigan. Clearly she has made a difference in and enriched the lives of so many people.

Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.