Honorary Degree Recipients

This Web site is provided for historical purposes only.

To view the most recent Commencement Web site please visit www.howard.edu/commencement.

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Doctor of Science

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is the 18 th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, the oldest technological research university in the United States. She has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe.

She is immediate past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and is also currently Chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. Her advisory roles and involvement in other prestigious national organizations include: trustee of the Brookings Institution; life member of the M.I.T Corporation; member of the Council on Foreign Relations; member of the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness; and board member of both Georgetown University and Rockefeller University. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange, the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and is a director of several major corporations.

She was appointed Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), 1995-1999, by U.S. President William J. Clinton. At the NRC, she reorganized the agency, and completely revamped its regulatory approach, by articulating, and moving strongly to, risk-informed, performance-based regulation. Prior to that, she was a theoretical physicist at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories, and a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University.

Dr. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from M.I.T. She has been awarded 31 honorary doctoral degrees.

Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie
Founder and Chairwoman
The McKenzie Group, Inc.
Howard University Board of Trustees

Doctor of Humane Letters

Floretta Dukes McKenzie, Chairwoman of the Howard University Board of Trustees since 2004 and a member since 1993, is Senior Advisor for the American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the nation’s leading education research organizations, which recently acquired The McKenzie Group. As the Founder and CEO of The McKenzie Group since 1988, she built an outstanding reputation for the comprehensive educational consulting firm as both a nationally- recognized leader in business and urban education reform.

She has a distinguished forty-year record of executive service to Kindergarten through 12 and higher education, including educational research, planning, and policy analysis for urban school districts nationally. She is known as the “Dean” of public school superintendents, and served for seven years during the 1980s as Superintendent and Chief State School Officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools. She established public/private partnership programs that included five state-of-the-art high school career programs, and also implemented the Five-Year Computer Literacy Plan as well as developed a stable financial and planning base.

She also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of School Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, where she managed 15 federal education discretionary programs and initiatives with a $67 million annual budget and a staff of 100 employees. In addition, as Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of School Improvement, then a newly established federal bureau, she directed efforts to increase the management efficiency and visibility of all discretionary grant programs with budgets under $40 million annually.

She has served in several top-level administrative positions in the Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland, including Deputy Superintendent and Area Assistant Superintendent. Her career began in executive-level educational leadership in the District of Columbia Public Schools, including service as: Deputy Superintendent, Educational Program and Services; Acting Superintendent; and Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Administration of School Units and Education Programs.

The recipient of several honorary degrees, she has been recognized by: Catholic University, Doctorate of Human Letters; Williams College, Doctorate of Laws; Bowie State College, Doctorate of Humanities; Georgetown University, Doctorate of Humanities; Trinity College, Doctorate of Humane Letters; and Columbia University awarded her the Medal of Excellence.

Some of her board memberships include: National Geographic Society; Pepco Holdings; Marriott International, Inc.; White House Historical Association; Institute for Educational Leadership, Inc.; American Association of School Administrators Leadership for Learning Foundation; Forum for the American School Superintendent; Harvard Graduate School of Education Urban Superintendents Program; and Johns Hopkins Leadership Development Program.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from D.C. Teachers College, a Master of Arts degree in History from Howard University, and an Ed.D. degree from The George Washington University.

Mr. William “Bill” Lucy
International Secretary-Treasurer
American Federation of State,
County, & Municipal Employees

Doctor of Humanities

William Lucy is the International Secretary-Treasurer of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO. He was first elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer in May 1972 and was re-elected in June 2004 to another four-year term. He is a former President of Local 1675, Contra Costa County Employees Association of Contra Costa County, California, where he was employed for 13 years.

He joined the AFSCME International Staff in 1966 as the Associate Director of the Legislation and Community Affairs departments. Before assuming the position of Secretary-Treasurer, he served as Executive Assistant to AFSCME’s late president, Jerry Wurf. He is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council and a vice president of the Maritime Trades Department and Department of Professional Employees. Well respected in the labor community, he is also recognized as the consummate labor statesman among his peers.

For more than three decades, he has been involved in international affairs, and is the highest-ranking African American in the Labor movement. He was one of the founders of the Free South Africa Movement that launched the successful anti-apartheid campaign in the United States in the mid-1980s. He led an AFL-CIO delegation to South Africa to monitor the first democratic election. He serves as vice president of Public Services International, the world’s largest union federation, and also serves on the boards of directors for the Africa America Institute, Americans for Democratic Action, and the Center for Policy Alternatives.

He is founder and the president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), an organization of union leaders and rank-and-file members dedicated to the unique needs of African Americans and minority group workers.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, he is a civil engineer by trade and attended the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Washington, DC.

Mr. Smokey Robinson
Artist, Songwriter, Actor,
Poet, and Producer

Doctor of Music

Smokey Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan. He began writing poems in elementary school, and regularly listened to soul and classic popular music. Instead of college, he chose to pursue a singing career. In the late 1950s, he met Motown founder Berry Gordy, who encouraged and polished his songwriting talent, particular in the early days.

A founding Motown executive, songwriter, and producer, he began his career as the lead singer for the Miracles, composed tunes for other Motown acts as well, and served as vice-president for Motown from 1961-1988, when it was sold to MCA. Now well into the 21 st century, he is still going strong. A Quiet Storm, one of his debut solo albums, became the theme song for the radio format created around smooth love ballads that dominated nighttime black radio starting in the 1980s.

Some of his songwriting credits for the Miracles include R&B and rock standards like “Shop Around,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Tears of a Clown,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “I Second that Emotion,” and “More Love.” His classics composed for other Motown artists include: The Temptations-- “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” and “The Way You Do the Things You Do;” Mary Wells-- “You Beat Me to the Punch,” “My Guy,” and “Two Lovers;” Marvin Gaye-- “Ain’t That Peculiar” and I’ll Be Doggone;” and The Marvelettes-- “Don’t Mess With Bill.” His solo career includes mega hits “Cruisin’,” “Being With You,” “Just To See Her,” and “One Heartbeat.”

He is an artist, singer, songwriter, actor, poet, and producer whose influence spans four decades and whose achievements include 36 Top 40 hits, a Grammy Living Legend Award, induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, the Soul Train Heritage Award, a NARAS Life Achievement Award, and the National Medal of Arts Award—the highest honor an artist can receive from the President of the United States, and numerous other honors and achievements.