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WASHINGTON -- More than 2,300 students received undergraduate degrees Saturday during Howard University 's 140th Commencement. Including 101 graduates who received doctorate degrees, the largest number ever in the 50-year history of the university's Ph.D. program. Despite rain, thousands of parents and friends from across the globe attended the ceremony, which was forced inside this year due to inclement weather.

American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth I. Chenault was the Commencement Orator.

The graduation was broadcast on Howard's radio station, WHUR-FM, and the university's television station, WHUT-TV. To view the commencement exercise its entirety, visit

This year, Howard granted honorary doctorate degrees to Rutgers’ women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer, the Honorable Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, currently a judge with the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague, and renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Stringer is one of America’s most prominent athletic coaches with one of the best records in the history of women’s basketball in her nearly four decades as a head coach. A 2001 inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, she ranks third in career victories in Division I women’s basketball history. A three-time National Coach of the Year as voted by her peers, she has led her teams to 21 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and is the first African-American coach to reach the 800 victory plateau. She is the first coach in men’s or women’s basketball to lead three different programs to the NCAA Tournament Final Four.

McDonald is in her second assignment in The Hague, Netherlands. Her first was with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as one of the original judges elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1993, and she presided over the first trial. In 1997, she was elected President of the Tribunal. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said of Judge McDonald, “She is one of the pioneer civil rights litigators in our country. . .And she has since become a pioneer justice for international war crimes law…I am confident that she will continue to be a voice for justice wherever she goes.”

Tyson is the first astrophysicist appointed to the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium in 1996 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. His professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. He obtains his data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Andes Mountains of Chile. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.

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