Date May 26, 2019
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As Brown celebrates Commencement and Reunion Weekend 2019 from May 24 to 26, look no further for complete news, photo, video and social media coverage throughout the festivities.

Brown awards seven honorary doctorates

During its 251st Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 26, Brown University bestowed honorary degrees on a diverse group of business and community leaders, scholars and artists.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At its 251st Commencement on Sunday, May 26, Brown University conferred honorary doctorates on seven candidates who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields. The recipients included:

Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Brown Corporation and are conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin — during Commencement exercises on the College Green. Recipients receive prominent recognition at the ceremony but do not serve as the Commencement speaker; since its earliest days, Brown has reserved that honor for members of the graduating class.

Sheryl Brissett ChapmanSheryl Brissett Chapman
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

Advocate, public servant, educator and nonprofit innovator, you have transformed the National Center for Children and Families into a visionary agency for social welfare policy and practice. Your passionate commitment to understanding the experience of the homeless, the poor, the abused, the addicted and the neglected has anchored an enlightened approach to social work. Lives are reconstructed because of your faith in rigorous research combined with the power of human connection. And for nearly half a century, as a respected leader in the Brown University community, you have been a resonant voice for unity and diversity on College Hill. For shining a spotlight on systemic injustices, leading with deep compassion and empathy for the vulnerable, and lifting up others with innovation and intellect, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O tu advocata, ministra rei publicae, magistra doctorque, tu effecisti ut ille Locus Nationalis Adiuvandi Liberos Familiasque ab agentibus peritissimis salutis communis administraretur.  Tu semper studens intellegere vitas miserorum illustravisti modum quo sagaciores perditis in re publica auxilium ferre possemus.  Itaque cum Universitati Brunensi praesidio permaneas, anno quinquagesimo appropinquante, atque misericors miseros humilesque tamquam ad caelum ac astra nova sustuleris, et quia iniustitiam in re publica insitam in lucem protulisti, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorum salutamus, honoris causa.

Ken BurnsKen Burns
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

Storyteller, visual artist and ethnographer of context, your masterful films — probing American triumph, tragedy, imagination and discovery — influence the way we understand history. Your pioneering craftsmanship and technique define the documentary style for generations of viewers. The personalities you bring to life — relatable, immediate and vital — are versions of us, moved by agency and uncertainty. The achievements you chronicle are potent vessels of national identity and purpose. And the tableaus you unfurl, of people assigning meaning to events, enlighten us about our collective past. For broadening the aperture of lived American experience, elevating our sense of legacy, and preserving the authenticity of searing historical moments, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O tu perita societatis, tu artifex inquirendi, princeps inter cogitantes, operibus tuis scientiam de vitis hominum diversorum qui inter se versantur auxisti.  Atque populis in omnibus terris nationibusque clamantibus opus esse concordia inter genera diversa, tempestivae et aequae sunt tuae sententiae de efficiendo ut civitates concordes iustaeque fiant.  Itaque propter spem quam in scriptis tuis invenimus, cum cives excites quo sagaciores de vivendo in re publica in concordia cogitent, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorum salutamus, honoris causa.

John KrasinskiJohn Krasinski
Doctor of Fine Arts
Biographic Notes

With the unmistakable ability and charisma to serve as the leading man and the innate qualities to perform as a perfectly matched piece of the character-ensemble puzzle, you’ve established yourself as a star on screen and an inspiring visionary behind the camera. The stories you tell on stage have the ability to make us laugh or cry, and they have showcased the power of silence. These tales have inspired viewers to look beyond the mundane cubicles of our daily routines and take advantage of the life-changing opportunities sitting feet away, perhaps just beyond the reception desk; your performances inspire us to sacrifice for others and lead for the greater good. For your ability to craft and share stories that engage the community-building bonds between friends and family, and for your ongoing impact on the arts, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

Clarissime princeps actorum et moventium imaginum artifex capacissime! Tibi sunt artes magnificae et insignis peritia ducendi et adiuvandi illos in scaena. Fabulae scaenicae tuae et risum et lacrimas omnibus efficiunt: etiam conticendi potentiam demonstraverunt. Placet nobis spectatoribus videre te, ut curas cotidianas dispelleamus et diem ipsum carpeamus. Discimus ex tua actione eximiam virtutem and animi magnitudinem. Pro tua habilitate, pro tua humanitate, Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus te salutamus, honoris causa.

Jennifer Anne RichesonJennifer Anne Richeson
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

As a social scientist, creative researcher, teacher and thought leader, your work expands the boundaries of knowledge on interracial interaction and the living contexts of diversity. Your inquiries into how groups of people perceive prejudice and inequality reveal important truths about brain, behavior and the social psychology of building stronger social bonds. Your compelling research on the power of redemption narratives — to deepen appreciation for the consequences of historical wrongdoing — offer us pathways for confronting injustice. In a world clamoring for racial healing and cross-cultural understanding, your keen insights into a more mindful pursuit of diverse, cohesive and just communities is timely and right. For the hope your scholarship inspires, for introducing smart conversations about race, and for framing the challenges of diversity in our democracy, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O tu perita societatis, tu artifex inquirendi, princeps inter cogitantes, operibus tuis scientiam de vitis hominum diversorum qui inter se versantur auxisti.  Atque populis in omnibus terris nationibusque clamantibus opus esse concordia inter genera diversa, tempestivae et aequae sunt tuae sententiae de efficiendo ut civitates concordes iustaeque fiant.  Itaque propter spem quam in scriptis tuis invenimus, cum cives excites quo sagaciores de vivendo in re publica in concordia cogitent, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorum salutamus, honoris causa.

David M. RubensteinDavid M. Rubenstein
Doctor of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes

Through your life’s work as a public servant and self-made investment pioneer, you have developed the personal expertise, and have been afforded the opportunity, to preserve and showcase patriotic landmarks and works of public art that celebrate or have inspired the forging of our nation. The most powerful and influential visionaries will join you in advancing medical research that will enhance life for all the world’s citizens. Your commitment to immediate transformational philanthropy and your leadership on multiple economic forums and international councils has and will continue to inspire your peers to think not only of their personal legacy, but of the ways in which they can positively impact society and alter the economic status and well-being of those most susceptible to hardship and suffering. For advancing philanthropy to unseen heights in America, and for your dedication toward preserving and restoring the monuments that depict our nation’s history, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Re augenda tua propria necnon aliena nescio an hanc quoque rem publicam auxeris, medicina scilicet promota monumentisque rerum nostra pro libertate gestarum restitutis, in quibus rebus dubitari haud potest quin vestigia tua premant divitissimi potentissimique alii prudenter fructi exemplo tuo, ut fortasse non ineptissimi sit sperare fore ut re sua imminuenda inque communem vertenda, fama tamen accumulata, plus iustitiae aequalitatisque apud universos parent. Qua pro spe effusisque tibi adhuc in vulgus muneribus te in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.

E. Paul Sorensen and Joan Wernig SorensenE. Paul Sorensen and Joan Wernig Sorensen
Doctors of Humane Letters
Biographic Notes: E. Paul Sorensen and Joan Wernig Sorensen

You are leaders, collaborators, inspirational philanthropists and agents of social change within the New England and Latin American communities. Through your decades-long volunteer efforts, both at home and abroad, you serve as a beacon for aspiring change-makers. You inspire teachers and learners; you advance the lives of young people and provide a voice for the voiceless; you encourage others to be aware of the social, environmental and economic impacts of their actions. For your inspirational philanthropic and volunteer efforts, providing education and opportunity for the most vulnerable, and as true Brunonians and impactful members of the University community, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Salve princeps praestans, qui cum coniunge tua beneficia plurima pro societate novanglorum et americanorum latinorum fecisti. Cives et peregrini multos annos exemplum tuum aemulantur. Status condicionesque iuvenum curavisti et magnficavisti, studium docentium et discentium aluisti, eis sine vocibus potestatem dicendi contulisti. Quantam educationem, Brunoniensis verus, e beneficiis tuis non solum pro infirmissimis sed etiam pro societate universitatis nostrae obtulisti. Pro his omnibus, te in Litteris Humanis Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.