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Distinguished Scholars and Citizens Receive Honorary Degrees

Collage of recepients that will be honored at the ceremony

During commencement ceremonies on December 13 and 14, 2019, undergraduate and graduate degrees were conferred, as well as honorary degrees.

Michigan State has been awarding honorary degrees to distinguished scholars and citizens since 1886, and five more recipients were added to this notable group.

Tawana Kupe – Honorary Doctor of Humanities
Kupe is a scholar of media studies and journalism, having notable records in publication and activism. He has worked on several books outlining recommendations for public access to media across Africa. In addition, he is a chairperson of the board of Media Monitoring Africa, an entity dedicated to media accountability and promoting the role of the media as an institution integral to sustaining democracy.

He is a leader in providing quality education to more than 53,000 students at the University of Pretoria. Kupe previously served at the University of Witwatersrand as the executive dean of the Wits Faculty of Humanities. While there, he led several new initiatives, including the creation of the Media Studies Department and development of the Wits Arts and Literature Experience.

Kupe spoke to the advanced degree recipients on Friday afternoon.

Doug Meijer – Honorary Doctor of Humanities
Meijer is a highly accomplished philanthropist, community leader and business executive who serves on the board of Meijer, which now has more than 245 locations in six states and employs nearly 80,000 employees.

He is a mental health advocate who actively serves on the board of “i understand,” an organization that works to raise awareness around the topic of mental illness and supports those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Meijer is also passionate about research and new treatments for cancer and has invested significant resources in MSU and other cancer research entities.

Meijer spoke to the baccalaureate graduates during the Saturday morning commencement.

Susan Packard – Honorary Doctor of Humanities
Packard earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in advertising from MSU, where she was also a member of the Honors College, in 1977 and 1979. Packard served as co-founder of Scripps Networks Interactive and assisted in the creation of television networks that have become household names across the country, including CNBC, HGTV, Food Network and DIY Network. Today she leverages her business success to help others to grow their potential.

She has authored books covering topics from strategies for women leading in the workplace, “New Rules of the Game,” to growing one’s emotional intelligence for personal fulfillment and success, “Fully Human.” Packard remains active in national and local businesses and community affairs and conducts significant outreach and mentorship work.

Packard spoke to the baccalaureate graduates during the Saturday afternoon commencement.

Robin Welcomme
Welcomme is a world-renowned expert on inland fisheries and his research has raised the profile of their contributions to food security, human health and prosperity. After graduating from the University of London, he moved to Africa and took up a civil servant post as scientific officer at the East African Freshwater Fisheries Research Organization.
His expertise has been recognized through doctoral dissertation committee services in Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, South Africa and the United Kingdom. He has worked in more than 70 countries advising governments and local institutions on management and conservation practices.

Welcomme is a dedicated teacher and communicator and has trained many students throughout his career. He forged strong links with MSU’s program on inland fisheries. The Robin L. Welcomme Scholar program at MSU recognizes and continues his real impact on our campus.

Harold Mooney
Mooney is a world-renowned ecologist and environmental scientist whose work has generated profound impacts on science and policies worldwide. He is a Paul S. and Billie Achilles professor of environmental biology at Stanford University. His research ranges from advances in physiological ecology of plants to global environmental stability.

Mooney has been recognized by election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and many other scholarly societies. In 2010, his citation for the Volvo Environmental Prize called him “a leading voice in the biology of global change.”



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