Brown awards eight honorary doctorates

At the 248th Commencement ceremony today, Brown University President Christina Paxson conferred honorary doctorates on eight candidates who have achieved great distinction in their fields.

Head shots of honorary doctorate recipientsPROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — During its 248th Commencement on Sunday, May 29, Brown University conferred eight honorary doctorates to candidates who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and were conferred by Brown University President Christina Paxson during the Commencement ceremony on the College Green. English and Latin texts of the individual citations follow here.

Thomas G. Catena's honorary doctorate was accepted on his behalf by his parents, Gene and Nancy Catena — his geographic location, in the Nuba mountains of Sudan, made it impossible for him to attend in person. Recorded remarks from the honored alumnus were broadcast during the University Ceremony.

Cornelia Bargmann

Doctor of Science
Biographic notes

Visionary scientist, incisive thinker, and leader by example, your research on the neural circuitry of worms has brought us closer than ever before to understanding the connections among genes, neurons and behavioral output. Your landmark discoveries and your relentless curiosity about the human brain have won you prestigious accolades and positioned you as a role model for young scientists everywhere. Your belief in science as a “community enterprise” made you the perfect choice to co-direct the Advisory Committee for President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, which is directing funding to the most promising projects in neuroscience today. For your abundant contributions to science, education and the advancement of human health through research, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

O physica prospiciens acri mente et dux exemplaris, contextus hereditariorum factorum propter investigationes vermis tibi gessas melius nunc quam umquam sunt intellecti. Amplissimos honores et inventis magnis et curiositate tenaci in hominis cerebrum consecuta es, quae nunc exemplum es omnibus physicis iuvenalibus. Credens socium opus scientiam, tu bene administras consilium creatum a Praeside Obama, per quod optima spe propositis pecunia datur. Ob dona disciplinae physicae, eruditioni, salubritati meliori omnium, Doctorem in Scientia te salutamus, honoris causa.


Umberto Crenca

Doctor of Fine Arts
Biographic notes

Artist, performer, teacher, mentor and civic leader, your belief in the power of art in all its forms has helped bring urban renewal to Providence and meaningful creative experiences to a range of community members, including the city’s most vulnerable young people. In establishing AS220 as a non-profit, uncensored home for the arts, you created a model of equal opportunity, community engagement, and economic development. Your bold ideas and support have inspired others to articulate their own creative vision, and your advocacy of urban artistic partnerships has extended your influence beyond Providence to both a national and international audience. For your significant contributions to cultural growth in Providence, decades of service to artists and young people across the state, and the example you set as a boundary-pushing artist, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

O pictor, actor, spectate consultor, princeps civium, fretus vi artis omnis generis profuisti Providentiae, civitati nunc renovatae tua opera, et quod maximi momenti est, per te saepe facta est copia civibus omnium ordinum, vel nostrae iuventuti infirmissimae, ut ingenio suo perfruerentur. Simul statuendo AS220, perfugium artificum liberum ab censura, conditum non lucri causa, designavisti insigne exemplum aequitatis benevolentiaeque, per quod amorem patriae et curam foris omnibus demonstravisti. Audax ingenio fidelisque tutela tu adduxisti alios ut sua consilia exponant. Exinde auctoritas tua praeclarissima facta est apud civitates nostras et gentes mundi. Propter beneficia tua, per quae Providentia aucta est humanitate, quod per multos annos omni studio iuvisti artifices adolescentesque per Insulam Rhodensem et quia exemplar omnibus factus es, ut qui artifex terminos calcet, te Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus salutamus, honoris causa.


Angus Deaton

Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic notes

Trailblazing analyst and Nobel laureate, your approach to studying measures of wealth and poverty, savings and consumption, health and happiness in a wide variety of settings has substantially increased the accuracy of the information upon which public policy is based and created a pathway for better understanding of crucial economic trends. Delving deeply into household surveys conducted around the world, you have illustrated the distinctions between individual behavior and aggregate behavior in order to define the mechanisms that either help or hinder economic development. Born of a strong conviction to reduce global poverty and ill health, your work has often focused on the economies of the poorest countries, and you have sought to include psychological factors into your assessments of overall well-being. For your insightful methods, your willingness to confront complexity, and the impact of your work on future economic policy, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O tu, scientia praestans et praemio Nobeliano laureate, cuius modum metiendi ratiocinandique ubicumque de opibus inopiisque, de pecunia conservata impensaque, de vita beata et sana cognationem administrandi rem publicam maxime auxit, viam melius ad intellegendum res ad opes publicas et futuras pertinentes invenisti. Penitus pernotus tabulas domesticas per orbem terrarum, discrimina inter mores singulos et communes illustravisti, ut decernas quaedam sive utilia sive inutilia ad opes publicas augendas. Plenus persuasionis ut et egestas et aegritudo ubique minuendae sint, tu, semper memor rerum de animo, pro gentibus inopissimis ac miserrimis magno cum studio laboravisti. Itaque pro intellegentia et ratione, pro voluntate et patientia in laborem implicatum, pro consilio opes publicas administrandi in posterum, te in Humanis Litteris Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.


Kevin Gover

Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic notes

Proud member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, you have given of your time, talent and intellect to improve the lives of Native Americans. As a lawyer focusing on Indian affairs and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, you helped to protect the rights of various tribes, rebuild crumbling schools for Native children, and upgrade law enforcement on Indian lands. Now, as the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, you are challenging the mythology attached to the history of Native peoples and raising consciousness about the contributions that Native people have made and continue to make to our country and the world. For your consistent service to some of the most vulnerable populations in the Americas, your insistence that we examine and not be afraid of our collective history, and your drive to bring the truth about Native people’s lives to a broader audience, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O tu qui nobili genere laetus ex Pawneis Oclahomae operam navasti ut vita melius fruantur indigenae huius soli, macte virtute esto! Iuris legumque peritus necnon magistratus res Aboriginum amplectus, indigenarum iura asseruisti, scholas fatiscentis restituisti, et vigilias subsidiis firmasti. iam custos Musei indigenarum huius sowli, fabulas falsas huius terrae gentibus coniunctas veritate superas, et mundo ostendis res praeclaras ab indigenis gestas necnon eas quae iam geruntur pro patria et orbi terrarum. ob tua perpetua beneficia pro populis huius continentis imbecillissimis, ob imperterritam audaciam tuam scrutandae nostrae communis historiae, et ob impetum tuum ut vita Aboriginum iam recte narrata cognoscatur ab omnibus, idcirco te doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus salutamus, honoris causa.


Antonia Hernández

Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic notes

A nationally recognized expert in civil rights, immigration issues and philanthropy, your career has been marked by tireless advocacy for the Latino community and a steadfast commitment to expanding opportunities for those affected by poverty and discrimination. As president and CEO of the California Community Foundation, you work to empower social service organizations in the Los Angeles area and pursue important policy initiatives related to early education and immigrant integration. Your previous work as president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund helped to eliminate damaging and unfair practices in school district financing, employment, voting, and access to public services. For your tenacity, your unwavering dedication to public service, and the inspiration you continue to provide for immigrants, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Salve Antonia, o salve insignis patrona, quae eruditione constantiaque praepollens pro Latinis Americanis et omnibus in rebus egenis fortiter ac misericorditer dicis! Te consule, societates civiles in Civitate Angelorum firmantur, disciplina parvulis abunde suppeditatur, advenae munifice in res publicas admittuntur. Te duce patronaque pro defensione Americanorum Mexicanensum et pro arca disciplinae, omne impedimentum aequitati sublatum est. Pro perseverantia tua, pro munere publico fideliter perfuncto, et pro advenis a te constanter cohortatis, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.


Jean Howard

Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic notes

As a distinguished scholar, teacher, and administrator at Columbia and a loyal alumna of Brown, you have dedicated your professional life to the study of early modern literature, the history of drama, and the advancement of diversity within higher education. Widely recognized as an expert in the study of Shakespeare, your research and writings have provided great insight into the socioeconomic and cultural conditions under which he shaped his representations of class and gender. You have served your students well, receiving multiple awards for teaching and mentoring, and you have set yourself apart as a skilled administrator through your direction of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia and as Columbia’s first Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives. We at Brown are fortunate to benefit from your service as a trustee emerita, an active member of the Advisory Council on Diversity and a co-chair of the Pembroke Center Associates Council. For your exceptional commitment to the life of the mind, your drive to improve accessibility for young scholars, and your years of service to your alma mater, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Tu, magistra disertissima, administratrix apud Universitatem Columbiae, fidelis alumna Universitatis Brunensis, tuam per vitam recentiorum studiis litterarum et dramatis historiae te dedisti, et progressum doctrinae ad varietatem diversitatemque fovisti. Ex operibus tuis comperimus societatis imaginem condicionemque feminarum in scriptis Guglielmi Shakespeare ex moribus et institutis sui temporis ortas esse. Discipulos tuos tam bene curabas ut semel ac saepius laudata sis et coronas splendidas receperis. Adeo in administratione rerum et ingenio et diligentia nites tanto apud Brunonianos quanto apud Universitatem Columbiae, ubi praeses Instituti Studiorum Feminarum et prima Vicaria Praeposita Diversitatis es. Pro diligentissima devotione in studiis humanioribus, pro praesidio eruditorum iuniorum et pro beneficiis ad Universitatem Brunensem, te salutamus Doctorem Litterarum Humanarum, honoris causa.


Charles Rosenthal

Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic notes

As a three-time trustee, a leader of the original Brown Parents Council, and a tireless champion of the University, your 30-year record of consistent service has had a tremendous impact on Brown’s faculty and students. Steadily, and without seeking the limelight, you have provided valuable advice to the University’s administrators; supported lectures, concerts, and internship opportunities to augment classroom learning; and exhibited exceptional generosity. Your contributions have forever changed the shape and trajectory of the University. For your willingness to share your talents with the Brown community and your desire to make a difference in the lives of generations of Brown students, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Socius honorandus ter, auctor concilii parentum Brunensium, summus propugnator nostrae Universitati, annos triginta facultatique doctrinarumque studiosis profuisti. Emolumentum non cupiens constans rectoribus suasisti, copias quae disciplinam augeant sustinuisti, et quidem tantam et praestantissimam beneficentiam praebuisti ut Universitatem nostram ad perpetuitatem dirigas. Pro magna ad Universitatem ingeniis tuis confirmandam voluntate, atque quia meliores vitas studiosorum Brunensium fecisti, te Doctorem Litterarum Humanarum salutamus, honoris causa.


Thomas Catena

Doctor of Medical Science
Biographic notes

Your life’s work has been defined by deep compassion and a singular devotion to providing care for victims of war and deprivation in Kenya and southern Sudan. With little regard for your own safety, you helped establish Mother of Mercy Hospital in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and became the only medical doctor at the only hospital in the entire region during a time of great national strife. Combining your medical skills, your ardent faith, and your calling to serve others, you have ensured the survival of thousands and begun the process of training your Nuba colleagues to eventually provide high-level care to their neighbors. For your selflessness, your determination to leave no patient untreated, and your illustration of what it means to be a true humanitarian, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa.

Te ad populatos bellis inopiaque in Sudania et Kenia curandos dedicavisti. Sine metu vitae tuae, valetudinarium, nomine Mater Misericordiae, in montibus Nuba condidisti et temporibus periculorum magnorum per totam regionem in valetudinario uno unicus medicus fuisti. scientia medica, fide constanti, industria iuvandorum hominum, servavisti tot milia vitarum et multos de cura medica docuisti. Pro rebus in populis indigentibus gestis sine tuorum commodorum studio, te Scientiae Medicae Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.