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Honorary Degrees

Graduates Wave to Family

Honorary degrees, or honoris causa (Latin: "for the sake of honor") are awarded every commencement by the university to distinguished visitors.

The degrees honor contributions to various fields such as science, business, education, and the military. Recipients have made a positive impact on the university, community, and society as a whole.


Honorary Degree Recipients

Jack L. Ezzell Jr.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Jack L. Ezzell Jr. is the founder and chief executive officer of Zel Technologies, LLC (ZelTech), one of the nation's premier professional services firms. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and holds an M.B.A. from Ohio State University. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel who served in significant military posts in the United States and Asia, Ezzell is recognized as a leader in applying advanced technology solutions to critical defense problems.

Paul O. Hirschbiel Jr.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Paul Hirschbiel is the owner and president of Eden Capital, a consulting firm in Virginia Beach that focuses on both for-profit and not-for-profit consulting and investing. He moved to Virginia in 1997 following a successful career in venture capital in New York City.

Harvey L. Lindsay Jr.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Harvey L. Lindsay Jr. joined the firm of Harvey Lindsay and Company, now Harvey Lindsay Commercial Real Estate, in 1954. He was elected president and CEO in 1969 and currently serves as chairman. Lindsay earned professional designations as Certified Shopping Center Manager from the International Council of Shopping Centers in 1978 and the Certified Commercial Investment Member from the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute in 1994.

Bruce Bradley
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Bruce Bradley retired in 2008 as president of the Landmark Publishing Group, a position he had held since 1999. He served nearly 35 years in the newspaper business, all within the Norfolk-based Landmark Media Enterprises LLC (formerly Landmark Communications) and its entities.

Admiral William J. Fallon, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Admiral William J. Fallon retired from the U.S. Navy in 2008 after a distinguished 40-year career of military and strategic leadership. He has led U.S. and allied forces in eight separate commands and played a leadership role in military and diplomatic matters at the highest levels of government.

Katherine Johnson

Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Katherine Johnson, a pioneer of the American space movement, was born in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and was trained as a mathematician and physicist. Because the local schools only offered classes to African Americans through the eighth grade, her father enrolled his children in a school 125 miles away from their home, where her mother and siblings lived during the academic year. She graduated from high school at age 14, and from college at 18.

Alina Cho
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Alina Cho is a national correspondent for CNN as well as a contributor to "American Morning" on CNN/U.S. She joined the network in 2004. Most recently, Cho covered the election of President Barack Obama live from Chicago's Grant Park, where he gave his acceptance speech. She spoke exclusively with Oprah Winfrey, one of Obama's biggest supporters, about his win.

Elizabeth A. Duke
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Elizabeth A. Duke took office as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on August 5, 2008, to fill an unexpired term ending January 31, 2012. Prior to her appointment to the board, Duke was senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of TowneBank, a Virginia-based community bank. Before that, she was an executive vice president at Wachovia Bank, and an executive vice president at SouthTrust Bank. Earlier in her career, Duke was president and chief executive officer of Bank of Tidewater, based in Virginia Beach.

Klaus Scharioth, Ph.D.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Klaus Scarioth, German ambassador to the United States, presented his credentials to President George W. Bush on March 13, 2006. Prior to his appointment as ambassador, Scharioth had served as state secretary, the highest civil service post in the German Foreign Office, since 2002. His portfolio included security and defense policy, transatlantic reltaions, European policy, crisis management, arms control and disarmament, the negotiations with Iran, Russia, G-8, and budget and personnel. After June 2005, his responsibilities further widened to include the United Nations, human rights and bilateral relations between Germany an all other countries.

Patricia J. Williams, J.D.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Patricia J. Williams writes the monthly "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" for The Nation magazine. Her wry, witty columns cover broad issues of social justice, including the rhetoric of the war on terror, race, ethnicity, gender, all aspects of civil rights law, bioethics and eugenics, forensic uses of DNA, and comparative issues of class and culture in the United States, France and Britain.

Adriane M. Brown
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Adriane M. Brown is an accomplished executive with 29 yeras of leadership experience in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. Following 19 years at Corning, and having risen to vice president and general manager of the Environmental Products Division, as well as a corporate officer, she joined Honeywell in 1999. In April 2009, Brown was appointed to senior vice president for energy strategy to develop energy policy and marketplace strategies across all Honeywell businesses and functions. She continues as a corporate officer and member of Honeywell's senior executive team.

Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D.
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Benjamin S. Carson had a childhood dream of becoming a physician. But growing up in a single-parent home and being challenged by dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem appeared to preclude the realization of that dream until his mother, with only a third-grade education, challenged her sons to strive for excellence. Young Ben persevered, and today is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, hwere he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Children's Center for more than 25 years. In May 2008, he became the inaugural recipient of the Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D. and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N. Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Blythe J. McGarvie
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Blythe J. McGarvie, of Williamsburg, is one of the world's leading authorities on global financial ethics, women in business and boardroom leadership. She is chief executive officer of LIF Group and serves on the boards of Accenture, Pepsi Bottling Group, The Travelers Companies Inc., Viacom and Wawa. She has operated profitable business units and managed employees in business endeavors from China to Chile, and France to Finland. McGarvie has been CFO of a Fortune 500 company in the United States and of a leading consumer goods company in Paris.

Marilyn Tam
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Marilyn Tam is a corporate consultant, speaker, author, executive director and founder of Us Foundation. She speaks, trains and consults with companies and governments globally on leadership, change management, diversity and how to integrate social and environmental issues to develop and enhance successful organizations. She is also a partner and "co-visioneer" of HealthWalk, a leading-edge, integrated health care services and products company.

Frank Foster
Awarded the Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa.

Frank Foster is one of the most prominent African American jazz composers, arrangers and performers in the world of jazz today.

Lieutenant General Kathleen Gainey '78

Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Lieutenant General Kathleen M. Gainey is the director for logistics, J4, Joint Chiefs of Staff. She earned her commission as a second lieutenant through ROTC in 1978 upon her graduation from Old Dominion University, where she received a bachelor's degree in special education.

David Gergen
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Commentator, editor, teacher, public servant, best-selling author and adviser to presidents: For 30 years, David Gergen has been an active participant in American national life. He served as director of communications for President Ronald Regan and held positions in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. In 1993, he put his country before politics when he agreed to first serve as counselor to President Bill Clinton on both foreign policy and domestic affairs, then as special international adviser to the president and to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

Patricia A. King
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Patricia A. King is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics and Public Policy at Georgetown Law Center and the first African American woman to be elected to the Harvard Corporation.

Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D.
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D., is a scientist who has been a pioneer in applying computer technology to health care, beginning in 1960 at the University of Missouri. In 1984, he was appointed director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest biomedical library. From 1992-95, he served in a concurrent position as founding director of the National Coordination Office for High Performance Computing and Communications in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President. In 1995, he was named by the secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to be the U.S. coordinator for the G-7 Global Health Applications Project.

Russell Stanger
Awarded the Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa.

At the age of 12, Russell Stanger organized his first orchestra - of neighborhood children in Newton, Mass. It was the precursor of a storied music career. He received a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1952, and four years later won the Eugene Ormandy National Conductors Competition in Philadelphia. He organized the Boston Little Orchestra In 1958, and served as assitant conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1960-62 under Leonard Bernstein. From 1964-66, he was associate conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony (now the Minnesota Orchestra).

Delores Johnson Brown
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Delores Johnson Brown, who helped break the color barrier in Norfolk's public schools as a member of the Norfolk 17, was one of seven African American children to integrate Norview High School on Feb. 2, 1959. She was 16 years old and a junior when the 17 students entered six previously all-white middle and high schools in the city. The schools had been closed for five months following Virginia's massive resistance effort to avoid the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which mandated desegregation in the nation's schools.

Anne Donovan
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Anne Donovan graced the sport of women's basketball at Old Dominion University from 1979 to 1983, helping lead the Lady Monarchs to a national championship in 1980 and two more Final Four appearances.

Robert L. Fodrey Sr.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Robert (Bob) L. Fodrey Sr. is a retired director of the U.S. Navy's Regional Office Civilian Manpower Management in Norfolk. In all, he is credited with 41 years of federal service with the Navy in Hampton Roads. For 25 years, local leaders of every naval activity with civilian personnel were influenced by his on-the-job presence.

Patricia Turner
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Patricia Turner, who helped break the color barrier in Norfolk's public schools as a member of the Norfolk 17, was one of five African American children, which included her brother James, to integrate Norview Junior High School on Feb. 2, 1959. She was 14 years old, starting her final semseter as an eighth-grader, when the 17 students entered six previously all-white middle and high schools in the city. The schools had been closed for five months following Virginia's massive resistance effort to avoid the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which mandated desegregation in the nation's schools.

Richard F. Barry III
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Richard F. Barry III served on the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors from 1985 to 1993. During that time, he held positions as rector (1988-90) and vice rector (1986-88). Barry also served on the University's Educational Foundation Board of Trustees, co-chaired the University's first Capital Campaign and created the Richard F. Barry, Jr. Chair in Mathematics in the College of Sciences.

Deborah M. DiCroce
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Deborah M. DiCroce, a South Hampton Roads native and lifelong Virginian, has devoted her career to public service. A proven leader in forging partnerships for the public good, Dr. DiCroce has headed Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of undergraduate education in Hampton Roads - since May 1998. During her tenure, TCC has experienced 10 consecutive years of enrollment increases, serving nearly 39,000 credit students in 2007-08.

Ethel L. Grandy
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Ethel L. Grandy, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, became an activist at a very early age. She recruited and trained neighborhood residents in local communities to vote at a time when it was not popular for women to lead these activities. She joined the Oak Grove Civic League in her early twenties and rose through the ranks to become president. One of her achievements was encouraging other local civic leagues to establish a joint executive committee for the purpose of recruiting residents to become active members. Local politicians routinely met with the committee.

Chris Matthews
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

A television news anchor with significant depth of experience, Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newpaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author. Matthews covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa, the Good Friday Peace Accord in Northern Ireland, and the funeral of Pope John Paul II. He has covered every American presidential election campaign since the 1980s.

Leonard Pitts Jr.
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Leonard Pitts Jr. joined The Miami Herald in 1991 as its pop music critic. Since 1994, he has penned a syndicated column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life. His most recent book, "Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood," was released in May 1999.

Frank Reidy
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

A resident of Virginia Beach since 1986, Frank Reidy is president of McClees Associates, LLC. Along with his partners, Reidy also started an oil and gas exploration and production business in Pennsylvania, which employs 100 people and operates 1,000 wells.

Charles A. Taylor, Ph.D

Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Charles A. Taylor assumed the role of president of Thomas Nelson Community College on July 1, 2004. He holds a doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Loyola Univesrity of Chicago, a master's degree in Education from The Johns Hopkins University a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the Univesrity of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Conrad M. Hall
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Hall serves as president and chief executive officer of Dominion Enterprises, a Landmark Communications-owned company that provides media and information services to the employment, automotive, real estate, marine, recreation and industrial markets. A native of Norfolk, he joined Landmark Communications Inc. in 1970 and has since served in a variety of business operations and financial positions before moving into his current role.

Thelma Harrison
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Harrison has been an active participant in the civil rights movement her entire life. Born in Norfolk, she attended the segregated J.J. Smallwood Elementary School, which was once located on the present Old Dominion University campus. She later moved to New York City where she was a nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital, and she worked with U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. for 30 years in the area of voter registration. Today, she continues to work in her community, including registering voters in her neighborhood.

Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Giambastiani is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's second-highest ranking military officer. During a 37-year naval career, Giambastiani was the first director of strategy and concepts at the Doctrine Command and led several submarine and anti-submarine commands. In these roles, he supported the creation of an Old Dominion University master's degree devised specifically for Navy nuclear-qualified officers, to be delivered by asynchronous technologies above and below the ocean's surface.

General Benjamin S. Griffin
Awarded the Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

Griffin, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command headquartered at Fort Belvoir, graduated from Old Dominion University in 1969 with a bachelor of science degree in business management. As commanding general, Griffin directs a workforce of 50,000 military and civilian employees, located in 45 states and 38 countries, whose missions range from the development of sophisticated weapons systems and research to the maintenance and distribution of spare parts worldwide. Prior to his current assignment, he was the Army's deputy chief of staff.

George C. Crawley
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Crawley has dedicated his life to serving the city of Norfolk, and was eventually promoted to assistant city manager in 1982, a post he would hold for 14 years. After retiring, Crawley returned to public service in 1997 as assistant executive director for community building with Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Active in the community, Crawley is the founder, president and chairman of the board of The 200+ Men Inc., a regional organization of African American men who work to improve access to opportunities in education, economic development and community betterment.

M G Vassanji

Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Vassanji, a nuclear physicist turned writer, grew up in Kenya and Tanzania. He is a co-founder of a literary magazine, The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad, and in 1989 published his first novel, "The Gunny Sack." He has gone on to write six more novels and two collections of short stories. His most recent novel, "The Assassin's Song," was a finalist for both the Giller Prize and the Governor-General's Literary Awards for best novel in Canada.

Marian Wright Edelman
Awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), was the speaker for the morning commencement ceremony on May 5, 2007.