2015 Honorary Degree Class: Morton Collins (left) with UD Board Chairman Gil Sparks

Honorary degrees

University confers honorary degrees on Collins, DeWalt, Simmons, Sachs, Walker


4:49 p.m., May 30, 2015--Five distinguished individuals were recognized with honorary doctoral degrees during the University of Delaware’s 166th Commencement ceremonies held Saturday, May 30, at Delaware Stadium.

"The Honorary Degree is the highest honor bestowed by the University of Delaware, and is reserved as a recognition of true distinction," said A. Gilchrist Sparks III, chairman of the University's Board of Trustees. "Today it is my pleasure to bestow this honor on five outstanding individuals who make up the University’s Honorary Degree Class of 2015."

Campus Stories

From graduates, faculty

As it neared time for the processional to open the University of Delaware Commencement ceremonies, graduating students and faculty members shared their feelings about what the event means to them.

Doctoral hooding

It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

Honorees and their degrees are:

Morton Collins, a 1958 engineering alumnus and nationally respected technology leader who is founder and managing partner of Battelle Ventures and its affiliate fund Innovation Valley Partners, doctor of science. The firms founded by Collins, who went on to earn his master’s and doctorate at Princeton University, included the earlier Data Sciences Ventures. The firms share a common theme in nurturing innovation by providing financial support to early-stage technology companies. Collins chaired President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and was a technology adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

David G. DeWalt, a 1986 computer science graduate and chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the FireEye Inc. cybersecurity company who has been named one of the 25 most influential executives in high technology, doctor of science. DeWalt, an internationally renowned authority on cybersecurity who delivered this year’s Commencement address, was president and CEO of McAfee before joining FireEye. He previously held executive positions with Oracle, Quest Software and Segue. He was appointed to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council by President Barack Obama.

Ruth J. Simmons, the daughter of sharecroppers who went on to serve as the 18th president of Brown University from 2001 to 2012, doctor of letters. A passionate advocate for higher education, Simmons received an undergraduate degree from Dillard University, studied in France on a Fulbright scholarship and earned a doctorate in romance languages and literatures from Harvard University. She was named president of Smith College in 1995, becoming the first African American woman to head a major college or university. In 2001, Time magazine named Simmons America’s best college president.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, an internationally renowned economist and proponent of sustainable development who is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, doctor of science. After a stellar 20-year career at Harvard, Sachs moved to Columbia, where he serves at the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Health Policy and Management. He has advised United Nations Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, and directs the Millennium Village Project to address root causes of extreme poverty. He has written several best-selling books, and his most recent work is The Age of Sustainable Development.

Jewel H. Walker, UD professor emeritus and founding member of the Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP), doctor of humane letters. Walker began his teaching career at the HB Studio in New York City, and then went on to teach at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where he was a founding member of the PTTP graduate theatre training program that moved to UD in 1989. Walker, who appeared on the popular television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as Mime Walker, taught at UD for 21 years, retiring in 2009 as the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Theatre. He received the Barrymore Award for Choreography and Movement in 2005 for his original work Tuesday, which was first staged at the University and later at festivals nationally and internationally.

Related stories and resources

• UD held its 166th Commencement ceremony on Saturday morning.
• Follow the conversation on social media by checking out the Storify site.
• For videos about Commencement, see the University’s YouTube channel.
Outstanding seniors and alumni were an important part of the Commencement processional.
• Eight high index seniors were honored.
• The Commencement view from graduates and faculty members.
• A doctoral hooding ceremony was held on Friday morning.
• The UD Honors Program held a celebratory breakfast on Friday morning.
• Read the remarks by Commencement speaker David DeWalt.

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson 

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