Speakers & Honorees
Keynote Speaker, Patrick Wilson (A ’95)
Patrick Wilson, a 1995 graduate of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, is a widely talented and successful performer. His work as a stage, film and television actor, as well as a singer-songwriter, has brought him critical acclaim, as well as numerous awards and nominations. Wilson has deep roots at Carnegie Mellon and has remained generously supportive and active with the university in many ways, including his participation in well-received student workshops.
He is married to actress Dagmara Dominczyk (A'98), who is also a Carnegie Mellon School of Drama graduate. He has been a trustee of the university since 2009 and serves on its Education Affairs and Enrollment Committee. His continuing dedication to the university, and his demonstrated pride as a member of this community, has helped recruit the best and brightest to Carnegie Mellon.
Wilson was most recently seen alongside actress Charlize Theron in Paramount Pictures' Young Adult, and also starred in the CBS drama, A Gifted Man. He received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor for his work on the HBO miniseries, Angels in America. Wilson has appeared in numerous feature films including Little Children, starring opposite Kate Winslet, The Ledge, The A Team, Watchmen, The Phantom of the Opera, The Alamo and Insidious, the highest grossing horror film of 2011. He is currently at work filming The Conjuring, scheduled for release in 2013.
Wilson began his career on the stage, and has appeared in many major Broadway musicals. He received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, as well as a Drama Desk Award nomination, for his work in the 2002 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! He earned a Tony nomination for his work in the 2001 Broadway hit The Full Monty, for which he garnered Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations and a Drama League Award. In 2006, he returned to Broadway to star in the revival of the Neil Simon comedy Barefoot in the Park, and his most recent Broadway role was in the 2008 revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons.
Wilson also will serve as the keynote for the School of Drama diploma ceremony.
Student Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipients
Student Speaker Caroline Kessler
Caroline Kessler (DC '11)
Caroline Kessler's Carnegie Mellon experience has, in her own words, "been a whirlwind of academic rigor, extracurricular involvement and travel." The 2011 graduate of the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences, with a creative writing major and religious studies minor, has made use of every minute, earning accolades for her scholastic work and making an impact on her community.
She was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Society Scholarship and the Margaret Morrison Rosenthal Scholarship, the Carnegie Mellon University Press Poetry Prize and Adamson awards for poetry (2nd place) and fiction (honorable mention). She helped to found Ampersand, an informal creative writing workshop; served as poetry reader, poetry editor and editor-in-chief for The Oakland Review; coordinated the Creative Writing Student Reading Series; and served as copy editor and staff writer for The Tartan.
Ms. Kessler has been dedicated to "improving Carnegie Mellon from the inside out." As an IMPAQT (Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Ties) ambassador, she traveled to the Qatar campus to enhance ties with the Pittsburgh campus. Serving as a Highland Ambassador, she facilitated at events such as Ceilidh Weekend and she remained active in Hillel, the Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh. Her educational and service travel included a semester in south India, a summer fellowship in Poland working with a human rights organization, and time in Germany, Israel and Qatar.
Ms. Kessler will discuss the unique ability of Carnegie Mellon and its students to defy explanation—to be "more than the sum of our parts."
Honorary Degree Recipient Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming, Soprano
Renée Fleming, famed soprano and musical ambassador, is known as ‘the people's diva.' She performs in the world's greatest opera houses and concert halls, while embracing other musical genres and media forms. Her numerous honors include, among others, three Grammy Awards and 13 Grammy nominations. In service to the community, she is an advocate for literacy, a champion of the music of contemporary composers and she serves on a number of civic boards.
In recent seasons, Ms. Fleming has hosted a wide variety of television and radio broadcasts, including the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series and the PBS Live From Lincoln Center. As a musical statesman, she has performed on distinguished international occasions that include the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Ms. Fleming was featured on the 2009 televised We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, has performed for the United States Supreme Court and the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, and in 2008, she became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.
While she won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for a collection of rarely heard Italian arias, Ms. Fleming has recorded music ranging from songs by indie-rock and pop artists to jazz to the movie soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Her 2004 book, The Inner Voice, chronicled her path to artistic success, and was subsequently published in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Russia.
Among her numerous awards are the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal (2011); Sweden's Polar Prize (2008); the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur from the French government (2005); and Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003). She holds honorary doctorates from the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School.
Photo credit: Decca/Andrew Eccles
Honorary Degree Recipient Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science, Colorado State Univeristy
Temple Grandin embodies leadership and triumph over personal challenge. Despite her severe childhood autism, she has achieved great success in furthering the field of livestock handling as well as in the understanding of autism itself.
Dr. Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, has done extensive and significant work in the field. She received a B.A. in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, a master's in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975 and a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989. She is a world leader in the design of livestock handling facilities, and has designed such facilities throughout the world. In North America, nearly half of all cattle are handled in systems of her design. Many large corporations use her objective scoring technique to assess their handling of cattle and pigs, improving animal welfare.
Dr. Grandin is known to be the world's most accomplished autistic adult, demonstrating through her lectures, her writing and her own success the potential of those with autism. Her remarkable life has been documented in an award-winning HBO biopic, she has been featured on National Public Radio, on such television programs as Primetime Live, The Today Show, Larry King Live, 48 Hours and 20/20, and in national publications such as Time, People, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report and The New York Times. Dr. Grandin was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people of 2010.
She has been a prolific author in the animal science field, publishing several hundred industry articles, technical papers and book chapters, 63 refereed journal articles and 10 books, including Animals in Translation, a New York Times Bestseller. She has received numerous awards from both industry and humane associations and five honorary doctorates. She also has authored books and produced several DVDs on the subject of autism.
Dr. Grandin will also serve as the Department of Psychology's keynote speaker at the diploma ceremony.
Photo credit: Rosalie Winard
Honorary Degree Recipient Ruth Gruber
Ruth Gruber, Humanitarian
Ruth Gruber, writer, photojournalist, diplomat and humanitarian, began early to make her mark on the world. She received her undergraduate degree from New York University at age 18 and in 1930 a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin. At only 19, she received a fellowship to travel to Germany for graduate study. At age 20, in 1931, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Cologne and became the youngest person in the world at that time to earn the degree. These achievements were all the more remarkable given that she was a young, single woman in the 1930s.
Dr. Gruber returned to the U.S. as a journalist, heightening awareness of the dangers of Nazism, reporting on women's lives under Communism and Fascism, and filing the first stories from the Siberian Arctic in 1935. During World War II, she was named special assistant to President Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes who sent her on a secret mission to escort 1000 Jewish refugees to the United States on a transport hunted by Nazi seaplanes and U-boats.
Dr. Gruber has authored 19 books about current events, seven of those on Jewish history after World War II. Her book, Destination Palestine: The Story of the Haganah Ship Exodus 1947, was used as source material for the bestselling book and award-winning epic film, Exodus. Her book, Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America, was based on case histories she recorded as she accompanied the refugees on their voyage, and was the subject of a 1993 musical play, a 2000 film and 2001 CBS miniseries. She published her memoirs, Ahead of My Time: My Early Years as a Foreign Correspondent, in 1991 and became the subject of a 2010 documentary, Ahead of Time.
Dr. Gruber's many honors include the Na'amat Golda Meir Human Rights Award and awards from the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance. Her book, Raquela: A Woman of Israel, won the National Jewish Book Award in 1979. She was honored for her work by the National Coalition Against Censorship as well as by the Institute of International Education naming a chair in her honor to annually rescue scholars around the world whose lives are threatened by their Democratic ideals.
Honorary Degree Recipient Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Daniel Kahneman, the 2002 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences and New York Times bestselling author, is widely regarded as the world's most influential living psychologist. He is credited with pioneering work in the field of behavioral economics, more specifically, the exploration of the irrational ways humans make decisions regarding risk. He was awarded the most prestigious prize in the field of economics "for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic sciences."
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Kahneman has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2007 Lifetime Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association and the 1982 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association. He is also a member of many distinguished elected societies, including the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. Dr. Kahnemen holds a number of honorary doctorates.
He received his degrees in the field of psychology, earning his undergraduate degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1954 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1961. He began his career in cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University, where he also began a lengthy collaboration with Amos Tversky in the field of judgment and decision making. Dr. Kahneman took a position with the University of British Columbia in 1978, and he became heavily involved in the new approach to economic theory, behavioral economics. He moved on to the University of California, Berkeley in 1986, and to Princeton University in 1993, where Dr. Kahneman is currently the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology emeritus and professor of public affairs emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.Dr. Kahneman will speak at the Carnegie Mellon doctoral hooding ceremony.
Honorary Degree Recipient Richard P. Simmons
Richard P. Simmons, Chairman Emeritus, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated
Richard P. Simmons has been compared to Andrew Carnegie, not only for his remarkable achievements in the world of business, but also for his unwavering community service. Under his leadership, Allegheny Ludlum became one of the world's most successful specialty steel companies, employing thousands of Pittsburgh residents. For more than 30 years, his dedication to community through philanthropic work and investment have benefitted the region.
After earning his degree in metallurgy in 1953 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Simmons began his career with Allegheny Ludlum as a research metallurgist, moving on to various managerial positions with Republic Steel and Latrobe Steel before returning to the company in 1968. With entrepreneurial vision, he led a management buyout in 1980, took the company public again in 1987 and orchestrated a merger with Teledyne in 1996. It is in this entrepreneurial spirit that Carnegie Mellon established Greenlighting Startups, which supports and accelerates the commercialization of groundbreaking ideas.
Mr. Simmons also has been recognized for his outstanding engineering achievements, winning numerous awards and retaining memberships in distinguished organizations, including his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1998. He holds four honorary doctorates.
His extensive community work includes serving as chairman and executive committee member of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, director and chairman of the United Way, trustee of The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, emeritus trustee of the University of Pittsburgh and chairman and life director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Mr. Simmons has been credited with personally rescuing the Pittsburgh Symphony from financial collapse with his gift. He is an active supporter of venture capital startups in Western Pennsylvania. Mr. Simmons also has been a generous benefactor of Carnegie Mellon University and as a distinguished adjunct professor of business management, taught a popular course in the Tepper School of Business.He will speak at the Tepper School of Business diploma ceremony.