Six to receive honorary degrees at Commencement

Six distinguished individuals will receive honorary degrees, including celebrated surgeon and best-selling author Dr. Atul Gawande, who will deliver Carolina’s spring Commencement Address on May 11.

Commencement will be held in Kenan Stadium at 9:30 a.m. Chancellor Carol L. Folt will preside over the ceremony.

This year’s honorary degree recipients are:

Atul Atmaram Gawande

Doctor of Science, 2014 Commencement Speaker

Atul Gawande, M.D., M.P.H. is a surgeon, writer and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

He is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation.

He is also the founder and chair of Lifebox, an international not-for-profit that implements systems and technologies to reduce surgical deaths globally.

Gawande has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1998 and has written three best-selling books: “Complications,” “Better,” and “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.”

Marjorie Bryan Buckley

Marjorie Bryan Buckley

Marjorie Bryan Buckley

Doctor of Laws

Marjorie Buckley, a former teacher, lifelong volunteer and visionary philanthropist, will receive a doctor of laws degree.

A 1962 Phi Beta Kappa Carolina graduate, she led the effort in 1965-67 to establish the North Carolina Outward Bound School, which has program areas in Western North Carolina, the Outer Banks, Florida and Patagonia, South America. Its programs include courses designed for practicing teachers and students earning a master of education degree, and an annual course for incoming student body leaders.

Buckley’s support was instrumental in founding the Carolina Center for Public Service 15 years ago. In honor of her father, alumnus Robert Emmet Bryan Sr., the center awards five Bryan Public Service Awards each year honoring public service work on behalf of the University.

She also has endowed the Joseph P. Archie Jr. Eminent Professorship in Medicine, which focuses on autoimmune disease, and the Thomas James Distinguished Professorship Fund in Experiential Education.

In addition to her service on numerous University committees and boards, Buckley has received the General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Board of Trustees’ William Richardson Davie Award, the Governor of North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine and the Kurt Hahn Award, the highest form of recognition conferred by Outward Bound in the United States.

Biddy Martin

Biddy Martin

Biddy Martin

Doctor of Laws

Biddy Martin, president of Amherst College since 2011, will receive a doctor of laws degree. Previously, she served as provost of Cornell University and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Martin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William and Mary and earned a Ph.D. in German literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of many scholarly articles and two books, “Woman and Modernity: The Lifestyles of Lou Andreas-Salome” and “Femininity Played Straight: The Significance of Being Lesbian.”

Her record of teaching and scholarship in German studies and women’s studies has earned her recognition, but it is as an administrative leader in higher education that she has made her most enduring contributions including induction into the membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for her leadership.

At Cornell she worked on initiatives to enhance recruitment and training of women in the sciences and tackled the question of access and financial aid with the goal of enabling first-generation college students to graduate debt-free. At UW-Madison, she led successful efforts to increase need-based financial aid, improve undergraduate education and enhance research.

At Amherst, she has led the institution through soul-searching following reports of a culture of sexual misconduct among undergraduates, something The New York Times said no other college leader in the country was as well prepared to face.

Armistead Jones Maupin Jr.

Armistead Maupin

Armistead Jones Maupin Jr.

Doctor of Letters

Best-selling author Armistead J. Maupin Jr. will receive a doctor of letters degree.

Maupin wrote a column for The Daily Tar Heel as an undergraduate and was elected vice president of the senior class. After graduation, he worked at WRAL-TV before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. After his return from Vietnam in 1970, he won a top award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge under the sponsorship of the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Maupin worked as a reporter in Charleston, S.C., and then with the Associated Press in San Francisco. In 1976, while at the San Francisco Chronicle, he launched the groundbreaking work that would propel his literary career for almost four decades.

“Tales of the City” began as a serialized novel and eventually became a sequence of nine globally best-selling books that set a precedent for presenting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters as people who experience the same foibles, follies and desire for love that lie at the heart of the human condition everywhere.

In 1994, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” became a controversial PBS miniseries whose vocal opponents included Helms. The miniseries earned record high ratings and a Peabody Award, broadcasting’s most prestigious honor. His other novels include “Maybe the Moon” and “The Night Listener.”

Beverly Eaves Perdue

Beverly Perdue

Former N.C. Gov. Beverly Eaves Perdue

Doctor of Laws

Beverly Eaves Perdue, who served as North Carolina governor from 2009 to 2013 following two terms as lieutenant governor, will receive a doctor of laws degree.

Previously, she had served in both houses of the N.C. General Assembly, including five terms in the Senate. She is the first woman to have held either of North Carolina’s highest elective offices.

As governor during the most difficult economic times in decades, Perdue maintained the state’s triple-A credit rating and worked tirelessly to preserve North Carolina’s commitment to education from kindergarten to college.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and both a master’s degree in education and a doctoral degree in education administration from the University of Florida. Before entering state politics, Perdue worked as a public school teacher and as director of geriatric services at a community hospital in New Bern.

In 2013, Perdue served as a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and was later named a distinguished visiting fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, where she also serves as an adviser to Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy. Currently she is founder and chair of the Digital Learning Institute, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Anne Firor Scott

Anne Firor Scott

Anne Firor Scott

Doctor of Humane Letters

 Anne Firor Scott, a pioneering historian of American women whose efforts helped open the doors of the history profession to female scholars, will receive a doctor of humane letters degree.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Scott was a founder of the field of U.S. women’s history, and especially of Southern women’s history. Her path-breaking book “The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics” moved women from the margins to the center of Southern history, and later works explored women’s biography, voluntary organizations, education and relationships across racial lines.

Inspired to study women reformers after working for the National League of Women Voters in the 1940s, Scott had earned her Ph.D. at Harvard/Radcliffe in 1958. In 1961, she took a history position at Duke, and by 1980 she was William K. Boyd Professor of History and the first woman to chair Duke’s history department.

She would go on to serve as president of the Organization of American Historians and then the Southern Historical Association, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

Scott reflected upon her professional journey in “An Historian’s Odyssey.” In 2008, at the age of 87, she published the edited collection, “Pauli Murray and Caroline Ware: Forty Years of Letters in Black and White.”

Published April 24, 2014.