Date May 28, 2023
Media Contact

Brown confers six honorary doctorates

During its 255th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 28, Brown University bestowed honorary degrees on a diverse group of business leaders, public servants and scholars.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At its 255th Commencement on Sunday, May 28, Brown University conferred honorary doctorates on six candidates who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields. The recipients included:

  • Douglas W. Diamond — Nobel Laureate and economist
  • Elaine G. Luria — U.S. Navy veteran and legislative leader
  • Bernicestine Elizabeth McLeod Bailey — IT leader and Pembroke Center champion
  • Kevin Mundt — Business leader and Brown Athletics champion
  • Ruth Oppenheim — Holocaust survivor and educator
  • Gina Raimondo — U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Honorary degrees are awarded by the Board of Fellows of the Corporation of Brown University. They were conferred by University President Christina H. Paxson during Commencement exercises.

Below is the text from the honorary degree citations read aloud during the ceremony and presented to each recipient. Biographical notes are included in the University’s announcement of the 2023 recipients.

Douglas Diamond accepting an honorary degreeDouglas W. Diamond
Doctor of Humane Letters
Nobel Laureate and economist

Your pioneering research on financial crises and banks has laid the groundwork for how central bankers, regulators and policymakers approach modern finance. Doug Diamond, your scholarship has shaped the world’s understanding of the role banks play in the economy and why avoiding bank collapses is vital. For your exemplary research on the importance of regulating financial markets and dealing with financial crises, you deservedly earned the 2022 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. In confronting the Great Recession and the economic downturn following the COVID-19 pandemic, central banks and financial regulators around the world turned to your research for direction. For the great distinction you bring to the University as an alumnus of the Class of 1975 and for the role you play in the sustainability of the financial sector, we are proud to award you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Elaine Luria accepting an honorary degreeElaine G. Luria
Doctor of Laws
U.S. Navy veteran and legislative leader

Veteran. Congresswoman. Bipartisan leader. Elaine Luria, over two decades in the U.S. Navy, you served your country with six deployments to the Middle East and Western Pacific as a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer. Reaching the rank of commander, you led a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors. In Congress, as a representative of Virginia’s second district, you were a steadfast champion for military and veteran priorities. Your efforts were instrumental to the passage of the 2022 PACT Act to expand health care and benefits for military veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. Your ability to work across the political divide has resulted in increased defense budgets, emphasizing shipbuilding and improving key capabilities in the Pacific. For your commitment to constructive civil discourse and your outstanding service to the American people, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Bernicestine Elizabeth McLeod Bailey accepting an honorary degreeBernicestine Elizabeth McLeod Bailey
Doctor of Humane Letters
IT leader and Pembroke Center champion

The history of Brown University is shaped by those who came before us through their actions as students and in their accomplishments and volunteer service as alumni. Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, you have inspired us all with your incredible dedication and generosity for your alma mater. For more than 50 years, you have passionately championed inclusive engagement with alumni of color. You have been a resonant voice for the importance of diversity on College Hill, a champion for the Pembroke Center and an advocate for preserving Black history at Brown. You have built bridges between generations of students and families from your service as a trustee of the Corporation of Brown University to your role as a Brown parent. For your accomplished career as a pioneering information technology leader, the great distinction you bring to the University as an alumna of the Class of 1968 and your outstanding service to Brown, we are proud to award you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Kevin Mundt accepting an honorary degreeKevin Mundt
Doctor of Humane Letters
Business leader and Brown Athletics champion

The students who walk our campus and the alumni who return each year to pass triumphantly through the Van Wickle Gates shape Brown University in their image. The Brunonians who dedicate their lives to the growth of Brown and the preservation of our strongest ideals inspire us to achieve true excellence. Kevin A. Mundt, your impact on the University spans decades from your time as a student-athlete to your longtime service as chair of the Advisory Council on Athletics. Your accomplishments as a Brown student-athlete in the Class of 1976 helped build football into a championship contender, and your leadership and mentorship as an alumnus have been invaluable. You have deepened your relationship with Brown through your status as a Brown parent. And, as a trustee of the Corporation of Brown University, you were a consistent advocate of the importance of freedom of expression in higher education. For your accomplished business career, your championship of Brown athletics and your outstanding service to Brown, we are proud to award you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Ruth Oppenheim accepting an honorary degreeRuth Oppenheim
Doctor of Humane Letters
Holocaust survivor and educator

A person’s life is not defined by the actions against them but rather by their character and determination, particularly in the face of adversity. Ruth Oppenheim, you survived the Holocaust in Nazi Germany as a young girl and went on to dedicate your life to Holocaust education, driven by a mission to inspire others to confront injustice. After escaping on one of the last ships to leave Europe during World War II, you settled in New York with your family, quickly learning English and earning valedictorian honors for your junior high and high school classes. You went on to have a  successful career, including more than 20 years at Brown serving and supporting students as office manager for the English department and Dean of the College office. At the same time, you remained committed to telling your story of survival. You have written articles on Holocaust education, interviewed countless other survivors and published a memoir in 2016. For your courage and strength and for inspiring us all to live lives of  consequence, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Gina Raimondo accepting an honorary degreeGina Raimondo
Doctor of Laws
U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Gina Raimondo, you have blazed a path for women in politics, leading with the bipartisanship, determination and vision that inspires positive change. The first woman to be elected governor of Rhode Island, you made record investments in infrastructure, education and job training. Your workforce development efforts with business-led partnerships prepared thousands of Rhode Islanders for better-paying jobs in the modern economy. Your leadership and commitment to collaboration were instrumental to Rhode Island and set a new standard for the successful partnerships between higher education, industry and government that are essential for progress. As secretary of commerce, you have been relentlessly focused on spurring job growth, empowering entrepreneurs to innovate and grow and helping American workers and businesses compete. Your leadership was essential to the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act. And your dedication to bolstering the technology and innovation sector while protecting America’s economic and national security are commendable. For your commitment to the American people, your impact on the state of Rhode Island and your exemplary leadership, we are proud to honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.