Announcing 2022 Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients
Dear Members of the CMU Community,
As we look ahead to Carnegie Mellon’s 124th Commencement exercises, which will take place May 13-15, I am thrilled to announce our exciting lineup of speakers and honorary degree recipients. These honorees will add even more vibrancy to an already historic weekend, when we will have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022, together with their loved ones and the entire Tartan community.
I am pleased to share that alumnus Billy Porter (CFA ‘91) will deliver the keynote address at the Commencement ceremony for bachelor’s degree graduates on Sunday, May 15. Chemistry Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold will deliver the keynote address at the doctor’s hooding ceremony on Saturday, May 14. And Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor will deliver the keynote address at the Commencement ceremony for master's and doctoral degree graduates on Friday, May 13.
It is also a time-honored CMU tradition to award honorary degrees at Commencement to exemplary leaders whose life and work serve as an inspiration for Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff. This year’s honorary degree recipients – including the three keynote speakers – are among today’s most accomplished changemakers, artists and innovators. Their legacy of achievements has profoundly impacted the world, and we are thrilled these individuals will join us for this year’s Commencement. Our 2022 honorary degree recipients are:.
- Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, and a leading scientist who has translated her discoveries into interventions that improve people’s lives. She received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for pioneering directed evolution methods used to make enzymes for a range of applications. Dr. Arnold, who was appointed co-chair of the Presidential Council of Advisors for Science and Technology by President Biden in 2021, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
- Lieutenant General Jody Daniels (MCS ‘83) serves as Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General for the U.S. Army Reserve Command. A CMU alumna, she leads more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians encompassing all 50 states and more than 23 countries. A trailblazer and role model, Lt. Gen. Daniels is the first woman to hold the top leadership position in the U.S. Army Reserve. She has received many distinguished recognitions, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal and three Legions of Merit. She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
- Manuel Heitor has served as Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education since 2015 and has been instrumental in the development of Portuguese and European research and innovation policies. He has also made major contributions to CMU through building and sustaining the CMU-Portugal program. Dr. Heitor is a professor at Instituto Superior Técnico, IST, the engineering school of the University of Lisbon, and was founder and director of the IST´s Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
- Evelyn Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where she has been a tenured faculty member since 1993. She has served as its chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and the Department of History. Dr. Higginbotham is a pioneering historian, author and scholar, receiving the National Humanities Award from President Barack Obama in 2015. She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
- Billy Porter (CFA ‘91), who received his bachelor’s degree from our world-renowned School of Drama in the College of Fine Arts, is an Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer, writer and playwright. The Pittsburgh native, known for his roles in FX’s “Pose,” and the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots,” as well as his recent memoir Unprotected, is one of the world’s most prolific artists and cultural icons. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
- Raj Reddy is the University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics and the Moza Bint Nasser Chair in CMU’s School of Computer Science, where he served as the founding director of the Robotics Institute and as the dean of the School of Computer Science. Dr. Reddy is one of CMU’s most distinguished and beloved faculty members and has received many recognitions throughout his distinguished career, including the Turing Award, the highest honor in computer science. He also served as co-chair of President Bill Clinton’s Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1999 to 2001. Dr. Reddy will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
- Jim Rohr is the retired executive chairman and former CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group. A legendary business icon, he oversaw the company’s expansion into one of the largest financial institutions in the country. Jim is past chairman and a current member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and is also a member of the Board of Trustees of The University of Notre Dame. Through his leadership in Pittsburgh, where he has served on the boards of several philanthropic and cultural institutions, Jim has been influential in a wide array of initiatives that sparked the region’s revival. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Business Practice degree.
I am grateful to the Honorary Degree Review Committee for its work in evaluating and recommending candidates and to all those who submitted nominations. I invite you to learn more about this year’s extraordinary lineup of speakers and honorary degree recipients.
After two years of subdued Commencement exercises due to the pandemic, it is wonderful to be able to plan for an in-person celebration of this beloved CMU tradition. Commencement 2022 promises to be a momentous occasion and I am looking forward to honoring our distinguished honorary degree recipients, and of course, the achievements of our outstanding graduates!
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
CMU Note: This site has been updated to reflect that, due to a conflicting professional obligation, Anna Deavere Smith is no longer able to participate in the 2022 Commencement exercises.