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Renowned Leaders Receive Honorary Degrees

Administration Building

A trailblazing four-star general, the former head of the United Nations World Food Programme,  former U.S. Air Force flight test engineer, and a former nine-term congresswoman received honorary degrees during Michigan State University’s 2018 Fall Commencement.

Honorary Degrees

Biographies of the speakers and honorary degree recipients follow:

William Cuzick
Cuzick served as a flight test engineer on more than 300 missions and currently oversees research and development for the U.S. Air Force, delivering new technological capabilities in the air, space and cyber domains.

Born in Germany as an Army dependent, Cuzick grew up understanding the demands and sacrifice of military service. Moving multiple times during his childhood provided an opportunity to travel the world and gain different perspectives.

Before joining the Air Force, he graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in aerospace engineering and later earned an MBA from the University of Nevada.

William Cuzick received an honorary doctorate of engineering.

Ann Dunwoody
Dunwoody is retired commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command and author of “A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America’s First Female Four-Star General.”

Born at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, she grew up in a family with deep roots in America’s military and joined the Army while attending the State University of New York at Cortland. After graduating in 1975, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant and entered the Quartermaster Corps, which offered the opportunity to become a parachute officer.

In addition to becoming the first American woman to achieve the rank of four-star general in 2008, she was the first to command a battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division, the first female general at Fort Bragg and the first female commander of the Army Materiel Command. She earned the Distinguished Service and Defense Superior Service medals, among many others.

Over her career, she earned master’s degrees in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology and in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Services.

Dunwoody is president of First 2 Four, a leadership mentoring and strategic advisory services company, and serves on numerous corporate boards.

Dunwoody spoke at an undergraduate commencement and received an honorary doctorate of humanities.

Jane Harman
Born in New York City, Harman earned a degree in government from Smith College and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. After working for a Washington, D.C., law firm and then a U.S. senator, she joined the Carter White House, serving as a special counsel to the Department of Defense and later as Cabinet deputy secretary.

She was elected in 1993 to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served nine terms and sat on the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees. A recognized expert at the nexus of security and public policy issues, she earned a reputation for working across the aisle on key issues.

Over the course of her career, she taught law and public policy at institutions including Georgetown University and UCLA.

Harman spoke at the advanced degrees ceremony and received an honorary doctorate of laws.

Josette Sheeran
The New Jersey native graduated from the University of Colorado and pursued a career in journalism, which led to a White House correspondent position for the New York News World and, later, managing editor of the Washington Times.

Sheeran’s expertise in world affairs led to government sector positions including deputy U.S. trade representative and then undersecretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs. In those roles, she improved trade agreements and helped foster and implement aid and development initiatives in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and other struggling countries.

As the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, she later guided the agency’s work in more than 70 countries where it feeds an estimated 100 million people each year — the biggest humanitarian operation against hunger in the world.

Sheeran previously served as vice chairperson of the World Economic Forum and remains president and CEO of the Asia Society. She most recently was appointed UN special envoy to Haiti to oversee efforts to reduce and end the transmission of cholera and address long-term issues with water, sanitation and health systems.

Sheeran spoke at an undergraduate commencement and received an honorary doctorate of humanities.

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