Carnegie Mellon University
March 22, 2022

Carnegie Mellon Announces 2022 Honorary Degree Recipients

Billy Porter, Frances Arnold and Manuel Heitor to deliver Commencement keynote addresses

By Michael Henninger

Ryan Scarpino
  • University Communications & Marketing
  • 412-268-2902

Carnegie Mellon University today announced an accomplished class of creatives, entrepreneurs, public servants, scholars and technologists who will receive honorary degrees at its 2022 Commencement ceremonies, to be held May 13-15.

Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer, author and playwright Billy Porter, a CMU alumnus, will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts degree and will deliver the keynote address at the Commencement ceremony for bachelor's degree graduates on Sunday, May 15. Chemistry Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology degree and will deliver the keynote address at the doctoral hooding ceremony on Saturday, May 14. And Portugal's Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor will receive a Doctor of Science and Technology degree and will deliver the keynote address at the Commencement ceremony for master's and doctoral degree graduates on Friday, May 13.

In addition, CMU will award honorary degrees to alumna Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command (Doctor of Science and Technology); Evelyn Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University (Doctor of Humane Letters); Raj Reddy, University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics and Moza Bint Nasser Chair in the School of Computer Science at CMU (Doctor of Science and Technology); and Jim Rohr, retired executive chairman and former CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group (Doctor of Business Practice).

"This year's honorary degree recipients and keynote speakers are among today's most accomplished changemakers, artists and innovators," said CMU President Farnam Jahanian. "As we prepare to celebrate the achievements of three classes of CMU graduates, showcasing the impact and leadership of these honorees will help to make Commencement 2022 a truly exciting and historic occasion."

Honorary degrees are one of the highest distinctions presented to an individual by Carnegie Mellon, and their recipients are a source of inspiration to the Tartans and their families gathered at graduation.

The full list of honorary degree recipients follows. 

CMU Note: This story/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.

— Doctor of Science and Technology —

Frances Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Arnold received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for pioneering directed evolution methods used to make enzymes for applications across medicine, consumer products, agriculture, fuels and chemicals. She was appointed Co-Chair of the Presidential Council of Advisors for Science and Technology by President Biden in 2021. She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
Frances Arnold

— Doctor of Science and Technology —

Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels serves as Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command. She leads a community-based force of more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians encompassing all 50 states and more than 23 countries across the globe. A CMU alumna, Daniels received her bachelor's degree in applied mathematics in 1983. Her recognitions include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, three Legions of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, Combat Action Badge, and Knowlton Award. She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
Jody Daniels

— Doctor of Science and Technology —

Manuel Heitor has served as Portugal's Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education since November 2015. From 2005-2011, he served as Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education. Among many other initiatives, he has promoted the Program Go-Portugal — Global Science and Technology Partnerships Portugal and has been particularly involved in the development of the Portuguese and European Space strategies, as well as the enforcement of research and innovation policies, including advanced computing. Heitor is a full 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.
Manuel Heitor

— Doctor of Humane Letters —

Evelyn Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. A tenured faculty member at Harvard since 1993, she chaired the Department of African and African American Studies from 2006-2013 and founded and coordinated the department's Social Engagement Initiative. From 2018-2020, Higginbotham served as chair of Harvard's history department, the first African American to hold this position. She has played a prominent role in broadening public awareness of the historical contributions of Black people to the United States and world through her leadership of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), where she served as national president from 2016- 2021. She authored the prizewinning book "Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church 1880-1920." Higginbotham received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama at the White House in 2015 for "illuminating the African American journey." She will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Evelyn Higginbotham

— Doctor of Fine Arts —

Billy Porter has won Emmy, Tony and Grammy awards and been nominated for Golden Globes for his work on stage and screen. The Pittsburgh native received his bachelor's degree from CMU's School of Drama in 1991. Known for his role as Pray Tell in FX's "Pose" and Lola in the Broadway musical "Kinky Boots," Porter recently returned to Pittsburgh to direct his first feature film, "Anything's Possible." Porter released his first literary project, "Unprotected," in 2021. The memoir is described as "a powerful and revealing autobiography about race, sexuality, art and healing." He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.
Billy Porter

— Doctor of Science and Technology —

Raj Reddy is a University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics and Moza Bint Nasser Chair in the School of Computer Science at CMU, where he served as the founding director of the Robotics Institute and as the dean of the School of Computer Science. He served as co-chair of President Clinton's Information Technology Advisory Committee from 1999 to 2001. Reddy is the recipient of the Legion of Honor, Padma Bhushan, Honda Prize, Vannevar Bush Award and the 1994 Turing Award (jointly with Edward Feigenbaum) "for pioneering the design and construction of large-scale artificial intelligence systems, demonstrating the practical importance and potential commercial impact of artificial intelligence technology." He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.
Raj Reddy

— Doctor of Business Practice —

Jim Rohr is the retired executive chairman and former CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group, one of the largest diversified financial services companies in the United States. A legendary business icon, Rohr held various positions in his more than 40 years with the company and as CEO, oversaw the company's expansion into one of the largest financial institutions in the country. Rohr 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, Rohr 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.
Jim Rohr

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