Date May 29, 2022
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Brown confers nine honorary doctorates

During Commencement and Reunion Weekend, the University bestowed honorary degrees on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Dr. Seth Berkley of the Vaccine Alliance, recording artist Shaggy and six other accomplished leaders.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — During its 2022 Commencement and Reunion Weekend, Brown University conferred honorary doctorates on nine candidates who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields. The recipients included:

  • Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott — Physician and public health leader
  • Dr. Seth Berkley — Physician and public health leader
  • Orville "Shaggy" Burrell — Reggae icon and U.S. Marine
  • Guido Imbens — Nobel Laureate and economist
  • Stanley Nelson — Oscar-nominated filmmaker
  • Nancy Pelosi — Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Alice and Thomas Tisch — Brown leaders and benefactors
  • Zeynep Tüfekçi — Technology scholar and educator

In addition, Brown honored the late telecommunications pioneer George H. Billings (1950-2021), a Class of 1972 graduate. On the day of his death, Brown President Christina H. Paxson conferred upon him a Doctor of Humane Letters and presented him a doctoral hood. During Commencement, Billings’ brother, John Billings, accepted a diploma in recognition of the honorary degree.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-ScottDr. Nicole Alexander-Scott
Doctor of Humane Letters
Physician and public health leader
Biographic notes

The COVID-19 pandemic brought extraordinary public health challenges. Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, as the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, you were a shining example of the impact that data-centric, research-driven leadership can have on our society. Under your guidance, backed by your steadfast belief in scientific discovery, your trust in the advice of public health experts and your calming voice during a turbulent time, Rhode Island residents were in strong and capable hands. With exceptional statewide testing and vaccination systems, you helped to protect the health and safety of all Rhode Islanders. Programs you implemented through your longstanding commitment to addressing health disparities have been regarded as a national model for improving health outcomes, and your focus on this consequential issue became even more urgent during the pandemic. For your leadership in a time of crisis and for your commitment to the health and wellness of the State of Rhode Island, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Globalis morbus COVID-undeviginti tulit maximas difficultates quas tu, O Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, praefecta sanitatis Rhodinsulae pugnavisti admirabiliter, ducens scientia et numerica veritate. Te duce, Rhodinsulani salvi erant. Utens modis ad aegros identificandos et repellendum morbum, custodiebas salutem publicam. Tuus adsiduus labor in corrigendis inaequalitationibus salutis dedit patriae exempla ad imitandum. Pro ducendo in temporibus dirissimis, pro laboribus in tuenda salute, te Litterarum Humanarum Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.

Dr. Seth BerkleyDr. Seth Berkley
Doctor of Medical Science
Physician and public health leader
Biographic notes

Dr. Seth Berkley, Brown Class of 1978, Brown Medical School Class of 1981: You are universally recognized as a pioneer in global public health, a visionary for the ways in which we can support the world’s most vulnerable populations and a champion of equitable access to vaccines and innovation. Under your guidance, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, plays an unsurpassed and inspiring role in the vaccination and protection of half the world’s children. Your collaborative approach to public health, linking public and private sector product development, has revolutionized the distribution of vaccines. For your steadfast commitment to Brown’s mission to serve the community, the nation and the world, and for the great honor you bring to the University as an alumnus, we are proud to award you with the honorary degree of Doctor of Medical Science.

Tua fama, O Dr. Berkley volat per orbem, clamans te esse principem globali publica salute, inventorem modorum quibus auxilium fiat egenissimis, propugnatorem aequi aditus. Te duce, Gavi inspirat spem repellendis morbis a dimidio omnium liberorum. Iungendis publicis et privatis facultatibus, distribuis res medicas modis miris. Pro adsiduo labore in servienda communitate patriaque orbeque, pro magna gloria quam Universitati Brunensi affers alumnus, te Doctorem in Scientia Medica salutamus, honoris causa.

Orville Shaggy BurrellOrville "Shaggy" Burrell
Doctor of Fine Arts
Reggae icon and U.S. Marine
Biographic notes

Orville "Shaggy" Burrell, your style, your voice and your influence on reggae and the genre’s growth in American pop culture cannot be overstated. You are recognized the world over for your success as a talented and influential musician. Your leadership and dedicated philanthropy through the Shaggy Make A Difference Foundation has inspired peers and musical legends to join you in concert to raise funds for those in need. The Shaggy and Friends concerts have raised more than $100 million in equipment for the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Jamaica. For your accomplishments as a recording artist and your service to others, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

Tibi, O Orville "Shaggy" Burrell, dederunt Musae dona maxima, quibus reggae crevit per Americam. Non solum filius Orphei sed etiam magnanimus, inspiravisti alios musicos ita ut prodirent tecum in scaenam et mercedes donarent egenis, praecipue Bustamente valetudinario. Pro musica et magnanimitate, te Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus salutamus, honoris causa.

Guido ImbensGuido Imbens
Doctor of Humane Letters
Nobel Laureate and economist
Biographic notes

Researcher, mentor, teacher, relentless learner — Guido Imbens, your research on causality has earned you worldwide recognition as a leader in your field of econometrics and statistics. For your breakthrough research regarding cause and effect, and the impact your research has on public policy, you deservedly received the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Your research answers important questions, and the implementation of those findings will help direct social and economic policy creation at the highest levels to the benefit of society and the world. For the great distinction you bring to the University as an alumnus, Ph.D. Class of 1991, and for the role you play in the growing understanding of cause and effect, we are proud to award you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Praeclarissimo omnes per terras rebus pecuniae, propter praecepta valde inopinata quae utilissime tractata bona maxima rei publicae ferunt, pretium nuper illud illustrissimum tibi dignissimo tributum est. Itaque ob famam et existimationem universitati nostrae rationemque omnino datam, te alumnum perdoctissimum in studiis et Litterarum Humanarum Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.

Stanley NelsonStanley Nelson
Doctor of Fine Arts
Oscar-nominated filmmaker
Biographic notes

Stanley Nelson, your films chronicle and explore the tragic and equally triumphant history of the Black American experience. As one of our nation’s visionary documentarians, your unmatched ability behind the camera influences the way we understand history and the way in which we chronicle pivotal moments in the evolution of our society. You serve as an inspiration to your peers and to a future generation of filmmakers. Your establishment of Firelight Media has provided leadership, mentorship and funding for emerging filmmakers of color to achieve and capitalize on their individual visions. For the role you play in documenting American stories and for your ongoing impact on the arts, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

O sagacissime vates rerum populi tui et tragici et triumphantis, maxima arte tua omnibus nobis historiae communem rationem in melius mutavisti, quibus beneficiis collegas huius aevi atque quae futura sunt saecula inspires; operibus quidem tuis exemplum auxiliumque communicandum aetati sequenti felicissime et prosperrime dedisti. Itaque populi tui ob vitam depictam in picturis vivis, assiduam ob auctoritatem in rebus otiosis, te Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus salutamus, honoris causa.

Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi
Doctor of Laws
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Biographic notes

Nancy Pelosi, you have blazed a path for women in politics like few before you, leading with the persuasive, determined and relentless approach required to enact positive change. The first woman to be elected as Speaker of the House, you have led Congress in the effort to lower healthcare costs for the most at-risk and vulnerable members of our communities and provide economic opportunity for the disenfranchised. Your ability to navigate and negotiate through the political divide has resulted in critical investments in Medicare and funding to combat the opioid endemic. You inspire us with your commitment to climate change, consistently working to enact comprehensive energy legislation, understanding that research must advance if we are to ensure that our world thrives for generations. For your commitment to the American people, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Tu, quae paucissimis prioribus similis re in publica nostra maxima cum persuasione vero atque obstinatione exemplum dedisti mulieribus, tu dux femina prima summum cursum honoris adepta fecisti pote ut maxime egentes medecinas caras spemque pecuniae haberent, obstantibus inimicis sapientia tua pervictis, et servatrix terrae saecula in saeculorum conservandae nos omnes inspires. Itaque ob officia plurima populum in nostrum, te Doctorem Legum salutamus.

Alice and Thomas TischAlice and Thomas Tisch
Doctor of Humane Letters
Brown leaders and benefactors
Biographic notes

Tom and Alice Tisch, your association with the University spans decades. Your roles on and off campus are vast in both number and impact. You have deepened your relationship with Brown through your status as Brown parents and broadened your impact on the University through countless leadership roles on campus. Tom, your counsel as Brown’s chancellor and as a fellow and trustee of the Brown Corporation has guided our University to previously unimaginable heights. Alice, your wise and unerring judgment and support has been essential and constant. Better than anyone, you both understand Brown’s potential to be a truly excellent, collaborative and agile university. Alice and Tom, your family’s devotion to Brown is unmatched, and your support of the University is inspirational. Time and again, you have cheerfully stepped up at just the right moment to advance key initiatives that made Brown a better University and a stronger community. Your vision of using public art to provoke discussion and bring people together has enriched our community. Most importantly, you are generous with your time to members of this community who seek your insight or advice. The relationships you have cultivated and stewarded throughout the years are unbreakable. The impact you have had on members of the Brown family are immeasurable. You are truly Brunonia personified and champions of Brown in the truest sense.

Thomas et Alicia Tischenses, quantopere et quousque Universitati subvenistis! Parentes Brunensi amici fuistis et principes bene fecistis. O Thomas, sapiens consilium nos ad summa quae animo non conceperimus duxit. Brunensem optimam, iunctam, acremque universitatem posse intelligis. O Alice, cum ratione et perpetua constantia nostram universitatem adiuvisti. Alicia et Thomas, vestra familia se Brunensi vovet. Nostrae sententiae fideliter animam inspiratis. Musis utimini ad populum iungendum. Assiduissime animum advertitis curamque datis huic communitati. Necessitudines quae non frangantur fecistis. Effectus vestri enumerari non possunt. Exempla piorum collegarum estis. Pro omnibus quae fecistis, vos Litterarum Humanarum Doctores salutamus, honoris causa.

Zeynep TüfekçiZeynep Tufekci
Doctor of Humane Letters
Technology scholar and educator
Biographic notes

We salute you for your excellent scientific research that has impacted millions in our country, for your outstanding role in sociology, and for your bold defense of science. As an advocate of science in this era of science denial, and specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have diligently informed and sought to protect our fellow citizens. The pandemic illustrated a critical need for science-based research and the practical implementations of that research to ensure safety during a public health crisis. Your very public commentary questioned and sought to explain why and how leaders of governments and public institutions are making critical decisions. For your insight into the human mind and for your dedication to the betterment of society, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Tibi gratias agimus pro scientia investiganda defendendaque. In aetate mendacii veritatem diligenter retulisti civesque nostros tuita es. Haec pestis demonstravit medicinam investigandam attendendamque esse ad salutem populi firmandam. Palam quaerebas petebasque cur et quomodo principes rerum publicarum consilia caperent. Pro animo intellegendo civitateque meliore facienda, te Litterarum Humanarum Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.