7 to get honorary degrees from Duke

Feb. 04, 2013 @ 06:15 PM

An acclaimed dancer and choreographer, the nation’s top archivist and one of the country’s most prominent African-American historians are among seven who will receive honorary degrees from the university during commencement exercises this spring.

The degree recipients include Judith Jamison, artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States; and Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Also receiving honorary degrees at the May 12 ceremony will be commencement speaker and philanthropist Melinda Gates; investment manager William  Gross; Max Cooper, an immunology scientist; investment manager William Gross; and human rights activist Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse.

Jamison, a former principal dancer with the Ailey company who had been its artistic director for 21 years, is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and a winner of the National Medal of Art.

Ferriero, who was Duke’s university librarian from 1996-2004, is the 10th archivist of the United States and a former director of New York Public Libraries.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., who also had been a faculty member at Duke, has been honored with a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the National Humanities Medal and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has written 16 books as well as 12 documentaries for PBS, most recently “Finding Your Roots.”

Melinda Gates, no relation, is co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation, which focuses on improving global health, eliminating global poverty and expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology in the United States, is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. 

Cooper, a scholar at the Georgia Research Alliance and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology Advisory Board.

Gross is a founder, managing director and co-CIO of Pacific Investment Management Co., one of the world's largest investment firms with more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management.  Gross is also the manager of the world’s largest mutual fund, the PIMCO Total Return Fund. 

Barankitse founded the House of Peace for orphaned children in Burundi. She has received the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child and the Award of Human Rights of the French government.