- Austen Hufford/Daily
By Peter Shahin, Daily News Editor
Published October 13, 2013
Michele Norris, a renowned journalist, will be the 2013 Winter Commencement speaker and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the commencement ceremony, the University announced early Monday. Five other distinguished individuals hailing from a variety of fields will also receive honorary degrees from the University.
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Norris is best known for being a former host of All Things Considered, National Public Radio’s flagship radio show. She was the organization’s first Black female anchor.
During her time as anchor, Norris regularly interviewed leading statesmen, academics and scientists, cultural icons and professionals from around the world. She currently heads the Race Card Project, a nationwide initiative that gathers perspectives on race and aims to foster dialogue on the subject. The University teamed up with Norris to bring the project to campus in February.
Norris also continues to contribute to NPR as a special correspondent and occasional host.
Before joining NPR, she worked as a correspondent for ABC News, earning professional acclaim for her contributions to the network’s coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks. She is also the author of The Grace of Silence: A Memoir, a 2009 book that takes a retrospective look at her own family's story in the context of America’s history of race relations. Norris received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and studied journalism at the University of Minnesota.
In an interview Friday, University Provost Martha Pollack said Norris’s time on campus during LSA’s “Understanding Race” theme semester and the Race Card Project demonstrated a commitment to cultivating a dialogue on diversity. Norris also delivered the Martin Luther King Jr. Day convocation in 2012.
“She’s a journalist of major social issues — and the University is very concerned with social issues,” Pollack said. “We have enormous regard for her integrity and commitment to understanding and celebrating diversity in this country. Those are things we value as well.”
During one of her discussions on race earlier this year, Norris said the University’s contribution to the Race Card Project has given her exceptional learning opportunities and insights.
“Michigan definitely has a place in history for all the things it’s pioneered, so there’s a very natural partnership between the University and the Race Card Project,” Norris said in February. “Since we began this year, responses have been pouring in, and they run the gamut.”
The other five individuals receiving honorary degrees from the University are:
Willard L. “Sandy” Boyd: The Rawlings-Miller professor of law and former president of the University of Iowa will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. Boyd received two degrees from the University of Michigan: his LLM in 1952 and his SJD in 1962. After serving as the University of Iowa’s president from 1964 to 1969, he served as the president of the Chicago-based Field Museum of Natural History from 1981 to 1996. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and helped establish the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center, which is dedicated to providing information and aid to Iowa-based nonprofits.
William Higuchi: A pharmaceutical scientist and former member of the University’s faculty, Higuchi will be granted an honorary Doctor of Science.