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And The Honorary Goes To...


When seniors receive their $160,000 diplomas and SEO-based advice from our commencement speaker this May, five other notables will get honorary Penn degrees -- doctorates! -- for free. And we thought academia was the one place where "real world experience" didn't matter.

Unsurprisingly, the achievements of the lucky five focus mostly on trendy environmental and international issues like microcredit and the preservation of Earth. Two are even Nobel Peace Prize winners. Which begs the question: why is Schmidt, whose Penn-manufactured bio lists no awards, the speaker this year?

See the press release bios for these five honorary recipients after the jump.

  • Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of California-based Patagonia Inc., which sells outdoor clothing, gear, accessories and luggage through specialty retailers, a catalog, a Web site and its own stores. Chouinard has taken his company, which began as a rock-climbing equipment supplier in the 1950s, to new heights, using it to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Its Earth Tax pledges 1 percent of sales to the preservation and restoration of the environment, and Chouinard helped to create One Percent For The Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1 percent of their net annual sales to approved environmental organizations. He will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
  • George Crumb, a prolific composer whose works are renowned for their contrasting musical styles. Crumb has been writing musical scores since 1947. In the ‘60s and ‘70s he based many of his compositions on the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, including “Ancient Voices of Children” (1970), “Night of the Four Moons “(1969) and “Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death” (1968). As one of the most frequently performed composers in today’s musical world, he won a Pulitzer Prize for “Echoes of Time and the River” in 1968 as well as a Grammy for “Star-Child” in 2001. He retired from Penn after 30 years of teaching and is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor Emeritus in the Humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences. He will receive an honorary doctor of music degree.
  • Yvonne Mokgoro, a judge with the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Pretoria, a human rights advocate and university lecturer. Mokgoro chairs the South African Law (Reform) Commission. Her career has focused on sociological jurisprudence, human rights, customary law and the impact of law on society generally and on women and children specifically. Having earned an L.L.M. degree at Penn, she has been a resource on customary law for organizations in South Africa and internationally. She will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
  • Susan Solomon, a recognized leader in the field of atmospheric science. Solomon is best known for pioneering the theory of the ozone hole in Antarctica and obtaining the first chemical measurements establishing chlorofluorocarbons as its cause. For that work, Solomon was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, and the Solomon glacier in Antarctica is named for her. Solomon served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. She will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.
  • Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering of microcredit. In this method of banking, small loans are given without collateral to the poor — mostly women — to finance income-generating activities to enable them to get out of poverty. His borrowers have a nearly 100 percent repayment rate. A long-time anti-poverty advocate in his country, Yunus has also addressed its development needs through the creation of other companies in the areas of energy, mobile phones, textiles, venture capital, education and commodities. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.