Case Western Reserve University awards honorary degrees each year at Commencement. These honors are a means of recognizing excellence in any values aspect of human endeavor, including the realm of scholarship, public service and the performing arts.
The conferring of an honorary degree is the university's way of recognizing those persons who have exemplified the highest ideals and standards.
This year's recipients are Dorothy Humel Hovorka, Donald C. Johanson, Bernice R. Sandler and William A. Schabas. Learn more about these outstanding individuals.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Dorothy Humel Hovorka is a steadfast supporter and champion of education, the arts and promoting diversity. Hovorka helped guide Case Western Reserve University as a member of the Board of Trustees for nearly two decades and continues as a Trustee Emerita and Honorary Trustee.
Hovorka and her late husband, Frank, a former Case Western Reserve chemistry professor, have been longtime philanthropists supporting education and the arts in Cleveland. Hovorka has leant her leadership, generosity and fund-raising efforts not only to the university, but to the Cleveland Orchestra, University Circle, Inc. and the Cleveland Music School Settlement, as well as many others.
Hovorka is already the recipient of the University Medal for her work as co-chair of the six-month Michelson-Morley Centennial Celebration in 1987.
Doctor of Science
Distinguished scientist and former Case Western Reserve University faculty member Donald Johanson is a tireless public communicator for evolutionary biology and human evolution. He and his team discovered and named the famous Australopithecus afarensis specimen known as "Lucy" in the 1970s, when he was an assistant and associate professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve.
Since 1997, he has served as professor of anthropology at Arizona State University and is founding director of their Institute of Human Origins. Johanson served as host-narrator of a PBS series In Search of Human Origins and received the American Anthropological Association Media Award. His ongoing laboratory research focuses on Hadar Hominid fossils.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Bernice R. Sandler's research, advocacy and landmark publications have made her a major contributor to the development of gender equity in education. She is primarily responsible for the passage of Title IX in 1972, which ended most of the overt gender-discriminatory practices and policies in education—in the classroom, athletics, and hiring and promoting of women faculty and staff.
Many consider Title IX to be the most important law affecting women since the passage of the suffrage amendment in 1920. Her efforts throughout the years have affected women and girls at all levels of education. The workshops Sandler hosted at Case Western Reserve initiated a campus-wide conversation about gender equity issues, raised awareness about the barriers women face, provided strategies for handling these issues on campus and helped empower women faculty and university administrators.
Doctor of Laws
William A. Schabas has dedicated his career to the advancement of human rights. He has often been invited to participate in international human rights missions on behalf of nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Federation of Human Rights; worked as a consultant to the Ministry of Justice of Rwanda and the United States Agency for International Development; and served as a member of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal and a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.
He is the author of many leading academic studies on international criminal justice, genocide and capital punishment. In 2002, he was appointed to the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Schabas has received the Bora Laskin Research Fellowship in Human Rights by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he also holds a professorship in human rights law.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.