In 2009, Marquette University will be conferring six honorary degrees. The individuals receiving the honors are selected through an annual nomination process. Father Robert. A Wild, S.J. said “they should be outstanding individuals who are recognized for their scholarship or for excellence in achievement. This achievement may be shown by acknowledged leadership in a profession or by exemplary service to society. In all cases there must be an appropriateness of the nominees to the distinctive mission and values of Marquette University.”
Marquette has the list of recipients of honorary degrees listed on their website through 1980. Since 1980, a total of 131 honorary degrees have been given. The process is as follows: nominations are open for a period of time, the nominations gathered are given to the Committee on University Honors for consideration. Father Wild then gives the short list of names to the Board of Trustees; the Board approves those on the list they believe to be worthy and then Father Wild takes those names from the Board to invite recipients to Marquette where they will receive their honorary degrees.
This year, as mentioned earlier, Marquette will be gifting 6 honorary degrees. The recipients are, Frank Busalacchi, Clifford G. Christians, Shirin Ebadi, Dick Enberg, Maria Rosa Leggol, and Helen Prejean. Here is a bit of information about these recipients.
Frank Busalacchi is the Wisconsin Secretary of Transportation and was the leader in the state’s efforts to complete the Marquette Interchange project, the largest construction job in the state to date. He was presented by Dr. Stan Jaskolski, the OPUS Dean of the College of Engineering. According to Jaskolski, he nominated Busalacchi for the degree of Doctor of Laws “because of his distinguished commitment to public service and to the people of the State of Wisconsin.”
Clifford G. Christians was nominated by Dr. William Thorn, a journalism professor in the College of Communication. Christians is one of the world’s leading media ethics scholars and has had a 30 year career in ethical studies, he has examined and written about ethical implications for journalists in democratic societies and other media professions. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters “because of his important contributions to the philosophy of technology, media ethics, and communication theory,” Thorn said.
Shirin Ebadi was both the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive a Nobel Peace prize. This honor was bestowed on her in 2003 for her “pioneering work for democracy and human rights, tirelessly advocating on behalf of women and children.” She was nominated by the Dean of Marquette’s Law School, Joseph Kearny, because of “her exemplary career as a lawyer, judge, writer, and activist on behalf of our human family.” She has worked diligently in the legal system for the rights of those who have been victim of extremist interpretations of the law of Islam and continuously works for peaceful solutions to social problems in a contemporary Islamic world.
Dick Enberg is one of the most awarded men in sports. He already has 14 Emmys, including a lifetime achievement award, 15 Sportscaster of the Year awards, and several other big titles. He was nominated by Phylis Ravel, a professor of the Performing Arts. Enberg has become a sports icon in the broadcasting world and was nominated because of “his distinguished career as a broadcaster, writer, philosopher, educator and playwright.” He was also May’s commencement speaker.
Sister Maria Rosa Leggol never received a formal education past the fifth grade, but through her work as a sister, she has helped over 40,000 orphans in Honduras. She is celebrating her 60th year of religious life in 2009 and throughout this time, she has comforted the dying, educated, fed the living, and convinced several other agencies to help the suffering in Honduras. She was nominated by Senior Vice President Thomas Peters, for “her extraordinary acts of compassion, for being an inspiration to people all over the world, and for exemplifying the spirit of magis by being a woman for others.”
Sister Helen Prejean was nominated by Fr. Harak, the Director of the Center for Peacemaking. Her work has helped formally shape and vocalize the Catholic Church’s stance on the death penalty. Prejean’s passion for the subject stemmed from her correspondence as a spiritual advisor with a death row inmate. She now spends much time counseling death row inmates as well as acting as an advocate of the Pro-Life position. Her book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty, was a New York Times best seller and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Clearly honorary degrees are conferred for a variety of different reasons and talents as demonstrated by the diverse set of honorees this year.