Keynote Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipient
President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Doctor of Humane Letters
Earl Lewis became the sixth president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in March 2013, and under his guidance the foundation has reaffirmed its commitment to the humanities, the arts and higher education by emphasizing the importance of continuity and change.
Lewis has championed the importance of diversifying the academy, enhancing graduate education, re-envisioning the liberal arts, exploring the role of digital tools for learning and connecting universities to their communities.
Prior to joining the foundation, Lewis, a noted social historian, was provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African-American Studies at Emory University. He previously held faculty appointments at the University of California at Berkeley (1984–89) and the University of Michigan (1989–2004).
Lewis is the author and co-editor of seven books, including “The African American Urban Experience: Perspectives from the Colonial Period to the Present”; “Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan”; “Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White”; the award-winning “To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans”; “In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th Century Norfolk”; the 11-volume “The Young Oxford History of African Americans”; and the award-winning book series “American Crossroads.”
A native of Tidewater, Va., Lewis earned an undergraduate degree in history and psychology from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota.
Lewis was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008. He earned the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota and the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the University of Michigan. He also has earned several honorary degrees.
Sophie Rose Zucker (SHS 2016)
A member of the Science and Humanities Scholars Program, Sophie Rose Zucker is earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with University Honors and a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with College Honors.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Zucker has been an active member of the Carnegie Mellon community. She has been a four-year member of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, serving on its executive board as vice president for recruitment.
Zucker was president of MORF, CMU’s feminist club, and has been involved in the annual MOSAIC Conference, which focuses on gender issues. This spring, she directed MORF’s production of “The Vagina Monologues.”
Zucker used her creative writing skills as editor-in-chief of The Oakland Review, CMU’s literary magazine, and has been a four-year member of its editorial board. She has been involved in the Chemistry Department’s Murder Mystery Dinner Theater production, and this year wrote and directed the performance.
She is the daughter of Meira and David Zucker, and older sister to Deena, of Sylvania, Ohio. She graduated summa cum laude from the Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Following graduation, Zucker will work for Epic Systems of Madison, Wis., a software company for health care organizations.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Holly Hunter (A 1980)
Doctor of Fine Arts
Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter is among the elite actors in the entertainment industry.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama in 1980, she began her illustrious career on the stages of Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theaters, where her credits include “Buried Child,” “A Doll’s House,” Michael Weller’s “Ghost on Fire” and Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart.”
Her first leading role in film was as a police officer in “Raising Arizona,” directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Since then she has garnered four Academy Award nominations, two for Best Supporting Actress for her performances in “The Firm” and “Thirteen,” and two for Best Actress for her work in “Broadcast News” and “The Piano.” She won the Oscar and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her 1993 performance in “The Piano” as Ada, a mute Scottish woman.
Hunter also has starred in television, earning six Emmy Award nominations and winning twice for Best Actress for her work in “Roe vs. Wade” and “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
From 2007 to 2010, she played an Oklahoma City detective in the TNT series “Saving Grace,” a role for which she received Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. She recently reunited with “The Piano” director Jane Campion for the Sundance Channel’s mini-series “Top of the Lake,” and earned a Screen Actors Guild Best Actress nomination for her performance as a charismatic spiritual leader.
Hunter’s most recent work includes the critically acclaimed off-Broadway production of David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones,” Warner Brothers’ “Batman vs. Superman,” Terrence Malick’s “Weightless” and Pixar’s “The Incredibles Part 2.”
Photo by Marc Hom
Robert S. Langer
David H. Koch Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctor of Science and Technology
Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the most cited engineer in history.
He has written over 1,330 articles and has nearly 1,100 patents worldwide. His patents have been licensed or sublicensed to more than 300 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.
Langer was a member of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s SCIENCE Board, the FDA’s highest advisory board, from 1995-2002, serving as its chairman from 1999-2002.
Forbes Magazine (1999) and Bio World (1990) named him one of the 25 most important individuals in the world in the field of biotechnology. Time Magazine and CNN (2001) named him one of the 100 most important people in America. And America’s Best listed him among the top 18 people in science or medicine.
Langer has received more than 220 major awards. He is one of only four living individuals to have received both the U.S. National Medal of Science (2006) and the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011). He is the only engineer to receive the Gairdner Foundation International Award; 82 recipients of this award have subsequently received a Nobel Prize.
In 1998, Langer earned the Lemelson-MIT prize, the world’s largest prize for invention for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” In 2015, he was presented with the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.
Langer is a member of four national academies, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1970, and his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, both in chemical engineering. He has received honorary doctorates from universities around the world.
Photo by Bachrach Photography
Sonia Manzano (A 1972)
Doctor of Fine Arts
Sonia Manzano changed the face of American television, and in the process helped to educate and entertain children for more than four decades as “Maria” on the iconic, long-running children's television series “Sesame Street.”
As a first-generation Puerto Rican growing up in the Bronx, Manzano remembers watching television and never seeing her life experience reflected in the shows of the time. She soon changed that.
After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts in New York, a scholarship brought her to Carnegie Mellon, and as a junior she earned a starring role in the original off-Broadway production of “Godspell,” a musical with several CMU ties. John-Michael Tebelak (A 1970) created the show as a directing major at CMU, and Stephen Schwartz (A 1968) wrote its music and lyrics.
Within a year, she landed the role of Maria and soon began writing scripts for the series. She eventually earned 15 Emmy Awards as a member of the show’s writing staff, and was nominated twice for an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series. She will receive the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ 43rd annual Daytime Emmys May 1 in Los Angeles.
Manzano’s work has been tirelessly focused on bringing differing perspectives and views of the world to children. After 44 years playing Maria, she left the show in July 2015.
She is the author of two picture books, “No Dogs Allowed” and “A Box Full of Kittens.” Her first young adult novel, “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,” won a Pura Belpré Award, for celebrating the Latino culture in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Her Christmas picture book, “Miracle on 133rd Street,” and her memoir “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx,” were published in 2015.
Manzano received The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award in Washington, D.C., and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education in 2003. She received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the University of Notre Dame in 2005, and was voted one of the most influential Hispanics by People en Español Magazine in February 2007.
James R. Swartz (TPR 1966)
Founding Partner, Accel Partners
Doctor of Business Practice
James R. “Jim” Swartz is one of the most successful venture capitalists in the world.
Swartz is the founder of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Accel Partners, a prominent global technology venture capital firm with offices in Silicon Valley, London and Bangalore, India. Accel has been a lead investor with numerous pioneering technology companies, including Facebook, Veritas Software and Dropbox.
A longtime industry leader, Swartz is former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association and a 2007 recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Passionate about the arts and sports, Swartz is a trustee of the Sundance Institute and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. From 1999-2002, he served on the management committee of the Salt Lake Organizing Group for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and is director emeritus of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation. He is an accomplished Grand Prix sailboat skipper, and has won numerous championships and World Cups.
In 2007, he and his wife, Susan, founded Impact Partners, a financial and advisory firm that supports independent cinema that addresses pressing social needs. Impact Partners has helped to produce several Academy and Sundance award winners. Swartz was founder of the Deer Valley Music Festival and chairman of the YMCA of Martha's Vineyard capital campaign.
Swartz earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvard University and his master’s degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. He is the recipient of a Carnegie Mellon Alumni Merit Award as well as the Tepper School’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
Swartz is a founding member and chair of Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh’s Global Advisory Council and is a member of the Tepper School’s Board of Advisers. The new Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, which will serve as a hub for university-wide entrepreneurial activities, is being named in his honor.