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Three to Receive Honorary Degrees at 160th Commencement
A world-class scientist in the understanding of cell reproduction, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and a legendary lacrosse coach and sculptor will take the stage at Commencement to be honored for their significant accomplishments.
University of California San Francisco Professor Bruce M. Alberts, New Yorker Editor David Remnick and Syracuse’s own Roy Simmons Jr. will each be presented with an honorary degree from Syracuse University during the University’s 160th Commencement exercises Sunday, May 11.
Bruce M. Alberts
Doctor of Science
Alberts is a world-class scientist who has made enormous contributions to the understanding of the core mechanisms involved in cellular replication. Currently a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, Alberts is the author or co-author of more than 200 scientific papers and the author or editor of several books and textbooks. As two-term president of the National Academy of Sciences, he was influential in setting national science policy and has been a strong advocate for federally funded research at the university and national levels. He recently served as the editor-in-chief of the weekly journal Science.
As a research scientist, Alberts is best known for his work characterizing the cellular machinery involved with reproduction, one of the most important steps living cells undertake. In 1987, Alberts was asked by the National Academy of Sciences to chair a national committee to develop a white paper on sequencing the human genome. The resulting report has been cited in the book “Cracking the Genome” as a critical step in advocating an international program for sequencing the human genome.
In addition to his research and publishing, Alberts has worked tirelessly to improve science education in the United States. He’s noted that science is often a favored subject among first graders, but by grade eight, these same students will rate science their least favorite subject. In the 1990s, as shepherd of the National Science Education Standards project, Alberts developed innovative ideas for inquiry-based science teaching that have since been incorporated into classrooms across the country.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Remnick, editor of The New Yorker and sought-after expert and commentator on Russia is Syracuse University’s 2014 Commencement keynote speaker.
A graduate of Princeton University, Remnick began his reporting career at The Washington Post in 1982 where he covered the U.S. Football League for six years before being named The Post’s Moscow correspondent. He lived in Russia for four years and quickly became an expert in the country’s culture and history. His work covering Moscow earned him the George Polk Award for excellence in journalism. After spending a decade at the Post, he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer and has written more than 100 pieces for the magazine. In 1998 he was named editor and restored some of the classic long-form journalism the publication had been known for. Under his leadership, The New Yorker has won 37 National Magazine Awards, more awards than any other magazine during that same period. In 2000, Remnick was named Advertising Age’s Editor of the Year.
Remnick is the author of several books, including “King of the World,” “Resurrection” and “Lenin’s Tomb,” for which he received both the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and a George Polk Award for excellence in journalism. His most recent book, “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,” was published by Knopf Doubleday in April 2010.
Roy Simmons Jr.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Simmons is best known as a legendary coach whose contributions to lacrosse have elevated the sport’s prominence on an international level. Perhaps less known is his exceptional work as an artist and sculptor—his creations have been displayed at some of the nation’s most respected museums, including the Chrysler Museum and the Everson Museum. Simmons received a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from the Syracuse University School of Art in 1959 and later served as an instructor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
During his time at Syracuse University, Simmons advanced the men’s lacrosse program by maximizing athletic scholarships and contending for several national titles. Under his leadership, the men’s lacrosse team won six NCAA championships, establishing Syracuse as a serious destination for elite players. He was one of only two coaches to win three consecutive NCAA Division I titles. In 1991, he was inducted into the United States Lacrosse Hall of fame.
Highly regarded among the athletics community, Simmons is known for a distinctive coaching method that encouraged athletes to be creative and not fear failure. Today, key elements of his methods serve as the framework for the SUNY Youth Sports Initiative, where nearly 10,000 youth coaches have been trained in the last three years.
In 1989, following the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, Simmons brought the Syracuse University men’s lacrosse team to Lockerbie, Scotland, to run several clinics and donate equipment to young players. Simmons and his players returned to Scotland several more times and the popularity of the sport soared as a result. Simmons has been widely recognized for his ability to honor the spirituality of lacrosse as the founders of the sport intended.