Northeastern announces 2016 honorary degree recipients

May 8, 2015 – Northeastern University celebrated its 113th Commencement exercises on May 8, 2015. The undergraduate ceremony was held at TD Garden in Boston. There are more than 3,700 undergraduate students graduating in 2015. David Muir, the Emmy award-winning anchor of ABC World News Tonight, delivered the undergraduate Commencement address. Northeastern presented honorary degrees to Muir; Lawrence S. Bacow, president emeritus of Tufts University; Vanessa Bradford Kerry, co-founder and CEO of Seed Global Health; and Gabriel Jaramillo, former chairman, president, and CEO at Santander Holdings USA.

Northeastern University will confer honorary degrees upon a distinguished group of influential figures at its 114th Commencement.

The recipients of honorary degrees at Northeastern’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony will be Charles F. Bolden Jr., the administrator of NASA; Susan Hockfield, former president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Thomas McCarthy, an award-winning director, screenwriter, and actor whose most recent film, Spotlight, won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture.

“These path-breaking leaders represent excellence across the spectrum of human endeavor—from the arts to the creation of knowledge to the frontiers of space,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.“I am thrilled to celebrate their accomplishments and to welcome them into the Northeastern family.”

Northeastern’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony is Friday, May 6, at TD Garden. The university announced in February that Secretary of State John F. Kerry will deliver the address at the undergraduate ceremony. “Through a lifelong commitment to public service, Secretary Kerry has distinguished him­self as one of the truly con­se­quen­tial statesmen of his gen­er­a­tion,” Aoun said in the announcement.“His impact on the world serves as a pow­erful example for our graduates.”

Northeastern also announced in March that Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a vice president and professor of electrical engineering and planetary science at the California Institute of Technology, will deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the graduate ceremony held later that day at Matthews Arena. “Charles Elachi is an accom­plished leader and inno­vator who has made a real dif­fer­ence in the field of space explo­ration,” said Aoun.


Charles F. Bolden Jr.
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Science

Charles F. Bolden Official PortraitRetired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., is the administrator of NASA and a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, Bolden has overseen the safe transition from 30 years of space shuttle missions to a new era of exploration that includes next-generation spacecraft that will carry astronauts into deep space, as well as NASA’s support of commercial space transportation.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and became a naval aviator, flying more than 100 combat missions in Vietnam.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical science from the Naval Academy, and a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.

Susan Hockfield
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Science

SusanHockfield250Susan Hockfield served as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2004 to 2012, the first life scientist and first woman in that position.

Now MIT president emerita, professor of neuroscience, and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Hockfield recently became president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As MIT president, Hockfield actively fostered the burgeoning Kendall Square innovation cluster while advancing programs in sustainable energy and the convergence of the life, physical, and engineering sciences.

As a biologist, Hockfield pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research, and discovered a gene implicated in the spread of cancer in the brain.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a doctorate from the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Thomas McCarthy
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters

CORRECTION-US-ENTERTAINMENT-OSCAR-NOMINEES-LUNCHEONThomas McCarthy is a prolific, award-winning director, screenwriter, and actor whose most recent film, Spotlight—the 2016 Oscar-winner for Best Picture—recounts The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that uncovered the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal. He also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer Josh Singer.

McCarthy began his career as a working actor, making his screen debut in the 1992 film Crossing the Bridge. He later burst onto the filmmaking scene, with his first two films—The Station Agent in 2003 and The Visitor in 2007—enjoying wide critical acclaim and earning many prestigious awards.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and attended the Yale School of Drama.