Honorary Degree Recipients

Ken Burns | Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. | Thomas W. Jones | Dr. Antonia C. Novello

For the Degree of Doctor of Humanities
Ken Burns (citation)

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than twenty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. A December 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen Magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time,” and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time. 

Ken Burns co-produced Mark Twain, with his long-time collaborator, Dayton Duncan.  This two-part, four-hour portrait of one of America’s funniest and most popular writers aired on PBS in January 2002.  In January 2001, Jazz, the third in Burn’s trilogy of epic documentaries, which began with The Civil War and continued with Baseball, was broadcast on PBS. Co-produced with Lynn Novick, this 19-hour, ten-part film explored in detail the culture, politics, and dreams that gave birth to jazz music, and follows its origins in blues and ragtime through swing, bebop, and fusion.   

Ken Burns was the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director, and executive producer of the Public Television series, Baseball.  Four and a half years in the making and eighteen and a half hours in length, this film covers the history of baseball from the 1840’s to the present. Through the extensive use of archival photographs and newsreel footage, baseball as a mirror of our larger society was brought to the screen over nine nights during its premiere in September 1994.

Ken Burns was also the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director, and executive producer of the landmark television series, The Civil War.  This film was the highest rated series in the history of American Public Television and attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September, 1990.  This series has been honored with more than forty major film and television awards, including two Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, Producer of the Year Award from the Producer’s Guild, People’s Choice Award, Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, D.W. Griffiths Award, and the $50,000 Lincoln Prize, among dozens of others.

Ken Burns was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  He went on to become one of the co-founders of Florentine Films.  He presently resides in Walpole, New Hampshire.

For the Degree of Doctor of Laws
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. (citation)

Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. is an attorney who is recognized throughout the world as an outstanding trial lawyer, civil libertarian, and philanthropist.  He is considered one of the leading authorities on criminal justice in the nation.  With high profile clients like Todd Bridges, Riddick Bowe, Jim Brown, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Reginald Denny, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson, Geronimo Pratt, Tupac Shakur, and O.J. Simpson, Mr. Cochran has firsthand experience with the facts and fallacies of the justice system in America. 

Mr. Cochran has been making history since the beginning of his career. Some of his notable feats include his success in obtaining the highest jury award in a police misconduct case in the history of the City of Los Angeles (Diaz v. City of Los Angeles), as well as negotiating the largest settlements in the other police misconduct cases. 

Mr. Cochran has established several scholarships that include the Johnnie L. Cochran, Sr. Scholarship for UCLA African-American males (known as Cochran Scholars); a Scholarship at the University of New Mexico, School of Law (for Cochran Scholars); and the Southern University School of Law Scholarship at Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He has funded and dedicated several community development projects:  the Cochran Villa, a 10-unit, low-income family housing complex to his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Johnnie L. Cochran, Sr.; the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Academy of Legal Studies and Community Service in East Orange, New Jersey; and the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Center for Early Learning at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, where he has been a member for over 50 years. 

In 1966, Mr. Cochran founded the law firm of Cochran, Atkins and Evans, and earned a reputation as an outstanding trial lawyer.  In 1981, he returned to the private practice of law under the firm name “Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Inc.”  He is the only attorney, ever, in Los Angeles to receive both the ‘Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award and the “Civil Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award. 

In October 1996, Mr. Cochran published his autobiography, “Journey to Justice,” and it was a fixture on a number of bestseller lists, including the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. On September 19, 2000, Doubleday & Co. released “Last Man Standing: The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt,” the story of Mr. Cochran’s 27-year battle to free Geronimo Pratt, establish his innocence, and recover $4,500,000 for his wrongful incarceration by the FBI and the City of Los Angeles. 

Mr. Cochran continues to negotiate record personal injury and wrongful death settlements. He also addresses audiences on college campuses and at other venues throughout the United States and the world. 

Mr. Cochran resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Dr. Dale Mason Cochran, and his father, Johnnie L. Cochran, Sr., and he also resides in New York City.  He has three adult children:  Melodie, Tiffany, and Jonathan.

For the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters
Thomas W. Jones

Thomas W. Jones was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup’s Global Investment Management businesses in August 1999.  The sector includes the Citigroup Private Bank, Travelers Life & Annuity and Citi Insurance, and the asset management businesses including Citigroup Asset Management.  Mr. Jones is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup Asset Management. Citigroup’s Global Investment Management sector has positioned Citigroup as a leader in Wealth Management with $1.8 billion in earnings and $479 billion in client assets under management.  

Mr. Jones joined Travelers Group as Vice Chairman and Director in 1997, and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Salomon Smith Barney Asset Management.  Prior to joining Travelers Group, Mr. Jones held several positions with TIAA-CREF which included Executive Vice President of Finance and Planning and Chief Financial Officer; Vice Chairman and Director; and President and Chief Operating Officer.   

Prior to his tenure with TIAA-CREF, Mr. Jones was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company in Boston, having spent the previous eleven years in public accounting and management consulting, primarily with the Boston office of Arthur Young & Company. 

Mr. Jones is a Director of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), Altria Group Inc., and Fox Entertainment Group, as well as a Trustee of Cornell University.  Past directorships include Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Travelers Group, TIAA-CREF, Eastern Enterprises, Thomas & Betts Corporation, Pepsi Bottling Group, and Investment Company Institute. 

A graduate of Cornell University, Mr. Jones holds a Master of Science degree from Cornell University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University, and is a Certified Public Accountant. He is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Pepperdine University and the College of New Rochelle.

For the Degree of Doctor of Science
Dr. Antonia C. Novello

Dr. Antonia C. Novello was nominated by Governor George E. Pataki to be the thirteenth New York State Health Commissioner on June 3, 1999.  The nomination was confirmed by the New York State Senate on June 15, 1999. 

Dr. Novello heads one of the leading public health agencies in the nation.  She is responsible for a $30 billion budget—the largest of any New York State agency and over one-third of the total of the entire New York State budget.

Dr. Novello also heads an agency which includes four health care facilities (with a fifth in the construction phase), two regional offices and field offices, and nine district offices, as well as the central office located in Albany. 

Prior to being appointed as the New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Novello served as the 14th Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service.  Her appointment marked two firsts:  Dr. Novello became the first woman and the first Hispanic ever to hold this position.  As Surgeon General, Dr. Novello advised the public on health matters such as smoking, AIDS, diet and nutrition, environmental health hazards, and the importance of immunization and disease prevention.  She also directed the activities of the 6,100 members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. 

Before becoming New York Health Commissioner, Dr. Novello was Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and Special Director of Community Health Policy. Dr. Novello also served as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Special Representative for Health and Nutrition where she advised the Executive Director on issues pertaining to women, children, and youth.  

Dr. Novello, a board-certified pediatrician, is clinical professor of pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. She is also adjunct professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan and adjunct professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the American Society of Nephrology, the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, the American Pediatrics Society, and the Society for Pediatric Research. 

Dr. Novello was born in Jajardo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1965, and a Medical degree in 1970.  She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honorary medical society; has published extensively, and has received numerous awards and honorary degrees. 

Administrator, researcher, lecturer, and author, Dr. Antonia Novello is first and foremost a physician whose motto is “good science and good sense.”