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Northeastern announces 2013 honorary degree recipients

At Northeastern’s 111th commencement exercises in May, the university will present honorary degrees to an accomplished group of influential leaders, as well as one that recognizes the first responders and law enforcement personnel who acted with extraordinary courage, compassion, and resolve following the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.

The recipients of honorary degrees at commencement are: Nikesh Arora, senior vice president and chief business officer at Google who earned his MBA from Northeastern in 1992; Barbara Lynch, an award-winning and nationally recognized chef who grew up in South Boston; Jack D. Bryant, an innovator in the engineering industry, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, who earned his master’s degree in engineering management from Northeastern in 1976; and Margaret Wood Hassan, New Hampshire’s governor and a 1985 graduate of Northeastern’s School of Law.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis will accept the honorary degree on behalf of all the first responders and law enforcement who following the Boston Marathon bombings selflessly sprung into action to provide care and support to those in need following the tragic events of April 15. First responders include public safety officials, emergency medical personnel, students, marathon runners, and countless others. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will read the honorary degree at commencement.

“This year’s honorary degree recipients represent many shining facets of the human endeavor,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “Their remarkable achievements in global commerce, entrepreneurship, and public service will inspire our graduating students and serve as enduring models for our society.”

The university announced in February that Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group president, will serve as the commencement speaker at the undergraduate ceremony on May 3, 2013. Kim, a global expert and advocate for public health, will deliver the 111th commencement address to 20,000 undergraduates, family, friends, and university leaders at TD Garden in Boston. The morning commencement ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Arora will deliver the afternoon graduate commencement address and receive his honorary degree on May 3, and Hassan will deliver the School of Law commencement address and receive her honorary degree on May 24. Both exercises will be held at Matthews Arena.


Jim Yong Kim

Undergraduate commencement speaker

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Jim Yong Kim has dedicated himself to improving the lives of the world’s poor, as World Bank Group president, as an educational leader, and as a physician and anthropologist.

As the 12th president of the World Bank Group—a position he has held since July 2012—Dr. Kim leads an international financial institution dedicated to reducing global poverty by promoting investments in economic development. He has advanced the World Bank’s strategic initiatives through an emphasis on collaboration—not just with governments and other institutions, but also with individuals. By listening to people—their questions, ideas, and opinions—Kim believes the Word Bank can make its programs even more effective.

Prior to joining the World Bank, Kim served as president of Dartmouth College, becoming the first physician to hold that prestigious post. Kim successfully led the university through the global financial crisis of 2009 and 2010, and was the guiding force behind the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science—the first international network of researchers and practitioners dedicated to developing new models of healthcare delivery and achieving better health outcomes at lower costs.

As director of the World Health Organization’s Department of HIV/AIDS, he led the “3 by 5” initiative, which sought to treat 3 million new HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries with antiretroviral drugs by 2005. Launched in September 2003, the ambitious program ultimately reached its goal in 2007.

Before that, Kim teamed up with another pioneering physician-anthropologist, Dr. Paul Farmer, to found Partners In Health, a Boston-based nonprofit organization now working in impoverished communities on four continents. Partners in Health proved that first-class healthcare can be delivered to the poorest sections of the poorest countries.

Born in 1959 in Seoul, South Korea, Jim Yong Kim moved with his family to the United States at the age of five and grew up in Muscatine, Iowa. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1982, earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1991, and received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University in 1993.

Before assuming the Dartmouth presidency, Kim held professorships and chaired departments at Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. He also served as director of Harvard’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

Among his many awards and honors, Kim received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2003, was named one of America’s “25 Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report in 2005, and was selected as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2006.

Nikesh Arora
Graduate ceremony commencement speaker
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Commerce

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Nikesh Arora, senior vice president and chief business officer at Google, is a business leader who brings a rare combination of intellectual depth, marketing savvy, and a visionary’s understanding of the possibilities inherent in technology.

As Google’s chief business officer, Arora is in charge of all revenue and customer operations, as well as marketing and partnerships, and is one of the six executive officers who guide the technology giant’s operations.

Since joining the company in 2004, the man that one business publication referred to as Google’s “persuader-in-chief” has had an outsized impact on Google’s success in global markets.

In addition to his current position, Arora has led Google’s global direct sales operations and developed and managed the company’s operations in the European, Middle Eastern, and African markets. He is widely credited with driving revenues and building Google’s relations with advertisers from international markets.

Nearly all of Google’s revenue derives from advertising, and today more than half of that revenue comes from outside the U.S., compared to just one-third when Arora joined the company.

Google’s success in those new markets reflects the company’s strength in understanding and adapting to change by introducing new features and products, and Arora’s knowledge, experience, and vision is considered integral to the company’s innovation-based culture.

He holds an MBA from Northeastern University and a master of science in finance from Boston College—both awarded with distinction—as well as a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Institute of Technology in Varanasi, India.

He has broad experience working in several different industries. He served as chief marketing officer and a member of the management board at T-Mobile Europe, spearheading all product development, terminals, and marketing activities for the telecommunications firm. Arora is also a chartered financial analyst, and has held management positions at Putnam Investments and Fidelity Investments in Boston.

Perhaps most important, he brings a vision of the Internet’s limitless horizons to his leadership. In a 2011 interview with Northeastern Magazine, he described the Internet as a revolutionary medium that is causing “a fundamental shift in the business world that’s still playing out”—particularly in the realm of marketing and advertising.

As Arora noted in an interview last year with India’s daily newspaper Business Standard, Internet connectivity globally has moved from “nice-to-have” to “must-have” in five years, with a key generation yet to come of age: the generation that does not know a world without Google or Facebook.

Jack D. Bryant
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Engineering

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Over the past four decades, Jack D. Bryant’s award-winning engineering firm, Bryant Associates, has helped shape and strengthen communities throughout the United States, Canada, Southeast Asia, and North Africa.

From water and wastewater issues to construction management to transportation and traffic engineering, Bryant Associates has earned a reputation for bringing clear vision and state-of-the-art solutions to the 21st-century infrastructure challenges today’s cities face.

Under Bryant’s inspired leadership the company has won numerous awards, from organizations ranging from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects to the Construction Management Association of America. Today he continues to serve as president, responsible for directing all business operations and overseeing projects in the firm’s six offices nationwide.

Bryant’s impact spans far beyond the world of engineering. He also played a critical role in our nation’s history—a role for which he was awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors, the Congressional Gold Medal, by President George W. Bush in 2007.

During World War II, he became one of 996 Tuskegee Airmen, the renowned group of African Americans whose achievements in that war helped shift America’s views on racial equality and integration.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother Joseph, Bryant trained to be a B-25 bomber pilot. The war ended before he could see combat, and Jack Bryant was discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1946.

But the experience shaped his life in many ways, starting with the GI Bill, which enabled Bryant to attend the University of Michigan and earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He subsequently enrolled at Northeastern, receiving a master’s degree in engineering management.

Among his numerous honors and distinctions, the Northeastern alumnus is a fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers.

He holds professional registrations in many states and memberships in several organizations: the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. In addition, Bryant has served as president of the Boston Post Chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers.

Bryant also holds positions related to his historic role, serving as a supporting member of the proposed Massachusetts Air and Space Museum. More recently, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame.

First Responders and Law Enforcement
Represented by Edward F. Davis III
Boston Police Commissioner
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Public Service

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In the moments after two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, and in the tense, dangerous hours and days that followed, many hundreds of caring and courageous people stepped up: law enforcement officers, medical personnel, public officials, runners and spectators, student volunteers, and countless others.

The bombing and its aftermath took four innocent lives, maimed scores of other victims, and put police officers in mortal peril; one officer was fatally shot and another badly wounded. And the attackers sought to achieve the larger aim of all terrorists: to sow fear and mistrust in society and deny the common humanity that binds us together.

The terrorists failed in that larger, more destructive goal, thanks to the qualities of leadership displayed by the people we honor: extraordinary bravery, faith, selflessness, and determination. They saved lives and soothed spirits in medical tents and in hospitals, devoted long hours of investigative work to identify the suspects, and persisted in putting themselves in harm’s way to apprehend them.

Their fortitude, commitment, and confidence spread across our region, engendering in our city and community a lasting sense of pride, strength, and unity. Ultimately, they showed America and the world what it means to be “Boston Strong.”

Margaret Wood Hassan
School of Law commencement speaker
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Laws

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Throughout her illustrious career in public service, New Hampshire Governor Margaret Wood Hassan has championed government as an active partner in solving the complex challenges confronting her state and the New England region.

First as a state legislator, and now as the Granite State’s second-ever woman chief executive, Hassan’s leadership has been marked by her ability to bring people together to find common ground around core issues such as education, healthcare, and jobs.

Elected governor in 2012, she is the driving force behind “Innovate NH,” a collaboration among business, education, and government aimed at elevating New Hampshire’s competitive position in the global economy. She also is working with lawmakers from both parties to develop a balanced budget that keeps taxes low while protecting New Hampshire’s vital public services.

Hassan’s ability to get things done led Business NH Magazine to name her one of the state’s most powerful people in 2010, when she was majority leader of the state Senate.

The Boston native and Northeastern University law school alumna was first elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 2004. During her three successful terms in office, she focused her legislative efforts on expanding access to healthcare, improving K-12 education, creating regional approaches to meet infrastructure needs, and developing the foundation for a green economy in the state.

Under her leadership, New Hampshire enacted universal kindergarten, increased the high school dropout age to 18 to address a rising dropout rate, and established alternative education programs.

When the Great Recession struck the state in 2008, she led passage of New Hampshire Working, a nationally recognized effort to aid businesses and workers. That same year, she sponsored New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, created by states and provinces in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the development of renewable energy sources.

Hassan began her career in public service in 1999, when then-New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen appointed her to a state commission studying the adequacy of educational resources for people with disabilities. Hassan’s invaluable experience as an attorney and as the parent of a child with disabilities allowed her to bring a unique perspective to the commission’s work.

She began her law career at the law firm PalmerDodge Advisors before working as associate general counsel for Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Partners Healthcare of Boston. Hassan earned her bachelor of arts from Brown University.

Barbara Lynch
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Public Service

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Barbara Lynch is one of the country’s leading chefs and restaurateurs. As CEO of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, she employs more than 200 professionals and oversees the operations of eight properties devoted to the art of fine dining.

Lynch has built on her success to give back to the community through philanthropy and a variety of activities to promote women as leaders.

In 2012, she established the Barbara Lynch Foundation, dedicated to helping Boston’s communities create healthy and inspired futures for its youth through programs to build leadership, life skills, and access to nutritious foods. Among its initiatives is Meet the Worms!, which engages children in activities that teach the value of nutrition, exercise, and community involvement.

As a woman who has achieved singular success in a profession traditionally dominated by men, Lynch has devoted great energy to fostering women in leadership roles. She created Full Plate, a mentoring series featuring professional women sharing their stories of challenges met and adversity overcome.

The story of Lynch’s path to the top of her profession is as compelling as one of her signature dishes.

While growing up in South Boston, Lynch, at the age of 13, got her first kitchen job cooking at a local rectory. In high school, an influential home economics teacher and an experience working with Chef Mario Bonello piqued her interest in becoming a professional chef. By her early 20s, she was working with some of Boston’s greatest culinary talents.

Following a sojourn in Italy, where she learned about the cuisine from local cooks, Lynch became the executive chef at Galleria Italiana. She brought national acclaim to the trattoria when she captured Food & Wine‘s “Ten Best New Chefs in America” award.

That success inspired Lynch to open No. 9 Park, in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The restaurant was named one of the “Top 25 New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appétit and “Best New Restaurant” by Food & Wine.

In the decade following, Lynch opened a variety of new properties, or “concepts,” in Boston, all with a characteristically creative approach.

In 2010, she and her team created the signature property, Menton. It received prized recognition from Relais & Châteaux, a global mark of excellence in the restaurant world. Menton is the only Relais & Châteaux property in Boston, and Lynch is currently the only woman in the United States to hold the distinguished title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux.

Lynch’s talents have earned her national recognition, including the Best Chef Northeast award from the James Beard Foundation in 2003, and the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs’ Barbara Tropp President’s Award in 2011.

Her first cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, received a prestigious Gourmand award for “Best Chef Cookbook” for the United States. She and her recipes have been featured in publications ranging from Bon Appétit to Inc. magazine, and on television programs such as Top Chef and Today.