University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced his recommendations for University-awarded honorary degrees Monday. The distinction is meant to honor those who have “advanced their field of endeavor in significant ways,” or made major contributions to society.

This year, Schlissel recommended four individuals to receive honorary degrees at the University’s commencement activities, scheduled for April 28. The recipients include the first female dean of a U.S. dental school, a philanthropist who established the Stamps Scholars program, a researcher who made DNA sequencing more affordable and a Heisman Trophy winner.

Jeanne Craig Sinkford was an esteemed professor of dentistry and was named dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry in 1975, making her the first female dean of a dental school in the United States. She is a senior scholar in residence at the American Dental Education Association and was a recipient of the Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women for being a Black female role model to adolescents of all races.

Penny W. Stamps graduated in 1966 from the School of Art & Design, the school that now bears her surname. Stamps is a former teacher and business owner. With her husband, Stamps created the Stamps Scholars program, which awards merit-based scholarships to students of more than 40 colleges and universities for study in any discipline. Since the program’s inception, the organization has named over 1,200 Stamps Scholars.

U-M alum David R. Walt is a renowned researcher. Through his research, Walt revolutionized the technology for DNA sequencing, making the process both more affordable and efficient. Walt is currently a member of the University’s Life Sciences Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board and Leadership Council and has served on other U-M academic boards in the past. A prolific scientist, Walt has published over 350 scientific papers and owns more than 100 patents.  He is now a faculty member at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Pathology.

Former U-M football player Charles Woodson led the Wolverines to the national championship in 1997 —  a win that awarded him the Heisman Trophy Award for most outstanding college football player in the country. After an impressive college football career, Woodson continued to play for the Green Bay Packers, helping his team win the 2010 Super Bowl. As a thanks to the University community, Woodson established the Charles C. Woodson scholarship in the School of Kinesiology and the Georgia A. Woodson scholarship to honor his mother.

Each honorary degree recipient will receive their certificate at the Spring 2018 commencement ceremony. In addition, Woodson will be giving the keynote address.


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