University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel recommended four people to receive honorary degrees during Spring Commencement. The four honorees, which include a sitting governor, a performer, a scientist and an artist, will be considered for their respective degrees at the March 28 Board of Regents meeting.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was recommended for the honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Whitmer will also deliver the commencement address, making her the sixth sitting governor to speak to a graduating class at the University in the past 40 years.
In a video posted March 11 on Twitter, Whitmer said she was excited to speak to the students.
“What an honor and what an incredible opportunity to congratulate these graduates who have worked so hard — who are going to go off and do amazing things in our country, in our state, in our communities,” Whitmer said. “I will see you all on May 4th and I will say ‘Go Blue!’ proudly.”
Randy Schekman, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and University of California, Berkeley professor, has been recommended for an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Schekman developed a method to advance the understanding of protein transport and secretion across the cell. The method encouraged the biotechnology industry to use yeast as a medium for clinically important human proteins such as insulin.
Additionally, Schekman earned the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He has held membership in the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Philosophical Society, in addition to leadership positions in the American Society for Cell Biology and the open-access journal eLife.
Schekman is slated to address students receiving master’s or doctoral degrees May 3 at the Rackham Graduate Exercises.
Mark di Suvero, internationally renowned sculptor and peace activist, is recommended for an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Di Suvero has two sculptures — “Shang” and “Orion” — both located in front of the UMMA, though “Orion” has been temporarily taken down for construction. His other works have collectively featured in more than 100 museums.
Di Suvero also has co-founded Park Place Gallery and established Athena Foundation and Socrates Sculpture Park. He has received several honors, including the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center and National Medal of Arts.
Leslie Uggams, actress and singer, was recommended for the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Uggams, a Juilliard graduate, has won a Tony and Emmy for her work.
Uggams has been involved in numerous forms of performance, including television, music, the stage and film. In addition to her new HBO film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and role in the show “Empire,” Uggams is on the Apollo Theater board of directors and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut.