The 1997 Recipients of Honorary Degrees

Shirley Sears Chater, former Commissioner of Social Security. A 1956 graduate of Penn's School of Nursing--and of the historic HUP School of Nursing as well--Dr. Chater received a master's in nursing from the U.C. at San Francisco in 1960 and a doctorate in education from U.C. at Berkeley in 1964.

By 1973 she was a full professor at San Francisco, and in 1977 she was named vice chancellor for academic affairs there, the first woman to hold such a high-level administrative position in the California higher education system.

From 1986 to 1993, as president of Texas Woman's University--the nation's largest university primarily for women--academic standards and enrollment skyrocketed. Her innovations included a nationally acclaimed program that provided family housing, day-care services, family counseling, and academic support for students who were single mothers. Her work at TWU led Texas Governor Ann Richards to appoint Dr. Chater in 1991 to chair the state's Health Policy Task Force. Many of the task force's recommendations to make health care accessible and affordable have been incorporated into the state's health care legislation.

Since 1993, when she was named Commissioner of Social Security, Dr. Chater has been responsible for the 65,000 employees who deliver benefits each month to more than 48 million people.

William H. Danforth, chairman of the Danforth Foundation and former Chancellor of the University of Washington at St. Louis.

Following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Dr. Danforth received his undergraduate degree from Princeton, and took his medical degree in Harvard's Class of 1951. At Washington University in St. Louis, the young cardiologist rose from intern to professor to Vice Chancellor of Medical Affairs, and then Chancellor of the University in record time. During his distinguished 24-year tenure as Chancellor, Washington moved into the select circle of the top 20 American universities. The number of endowed chairs rose from 40 to 110; financial aid increased nine-fold to $27 million; the market value of the endowment increased eleven-fold to $1.7 billion; and the $650 million campaign which he led in the mid-1980s was, at that time, the most successful fund-raising effort in the history of higher education.

Dr. Danforth has chaired the Association of American Universities and many other major organizations in higher education and medicine. As Chairman of The Danforth Foundation, a position he has held for 30 years, Dr. Danforth carries on the tradition begun by his grandparents in the 1920s--providing support for initiatives that enrich and improve education, inside and outside the classroom.

Gary Graffman, Director of the Curtis Institute of Music. A world-renowned pianist who entered the Curtis Institute at seven, debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra at eighteen, and won the prestigious Leventritt Award at twenty, Mr. Graffman took the international concert circuit by storm and for thirty years he toured city after city, playing the most demanding works for the piano both in recital and with the world's finest orchestras and making recordings with the orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, and other major cities.

After an injury to his right hand in 1979, Mr. Graffman turned to the brilliant repertoire of concertos written for the left hand. He joined the Curtis faculty in 1980 and was named director in 1986, following such illustrious predecessors as Josef Hoffman, Efrem Zimbalist, and Rudolf Serkin. He was a key organizer of the Penn-Curtis Exchange, in which students cross-register, and Penn student composers have their works played by the Curtis Orchestra, considered one of the finest on the east coast.

A modern Renaissance man whose scholarly delights range from Oriental art to photography, Mr. Graffman is also a gifted writer and author of the highly-praised autobiography I Really Should Be Practicing.

Richard A. Posner, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Senior Lecturer (formerly Professor of Law) at the University of Chicago Law School has done more than any other individual to expand the law-and-economics movement from the academic fringe to the mainstream of American legal education. Controversial at times for his forceful defense of the free market and his application of economic principles to politics and personal behavior, he is nonetheless nationally recognized and respected for his scholarly and powerful influence on academic law.

Since the start of his teaching career in the 1960s at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, Judge Posner has turned out an astonishing number of powerfully argued and carefully reasoned articles and books, including his now-classic text Economic Analysis of Law, which applied the methods and theory of economics to a broad range of legal issues and fields. Judge Posner received his undergraduate degree from Yale in 1959 and his law degree from Harvard in 1962. Appointed to the bench by President Reagan in 1981, he writes some 90 appellate opinions a year, more than any other federal appellate judge, while continuing his academic writing at a prodigious pace; he has written some 22 books and over 100 law review articles.

Judge Posner has received honorary degrees from Yale University, Syracuse University; Duquesne University; Georgetown University; and the University of Ghent, Belgium. His son Eric is an assistant professor at Penn's Law School.

Louis Sokoloff, M.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Sokoloff received his undergraduate degree from Penn in 1943, graduated from Penn's School of Medicine in 1946. In 1949, he returned to Penn as a research fellow in physiology and pharmacology. In 1953, he moved to the National Institute of Mental Health, and in 1963 he became chief of the Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism in 1963.

Dr. Sokoloff's landmark work includes a technique for measuring metabolic rates throughout the brain which he developed in collaboration with Penn's Dr. Martin Reivich. Their findings served as the basis for the first investigation in humans of regional cerebral glucose metabolism, performed at Penn in 1976. This approach, now an important tool in fundamental neurophysiology and functional anatomy and in the detailed study of the human brain in health and disease, has allowed scientists to see for the first time the working of the brain as it solves problems and processes information.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, has received numerous honors including Penn Med's Distinguished Graduate Award; honorary degrees from Yeshiva University and the University of Lund in Sweden; the Albert D. Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research; and the Schmitt Medal in Neuroscience.

Simone Veil, former French Minister of State for Social, Health and Urban Affairs. A Holocaust survivor who returned to France after her liberation from the notorious Bergen-Belsen camp, Mme. Veil studied law and political science at l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. Appointed Minister of Health in 1974 by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, she vigorously promoted women's rights, health the reform of medical education requirements, and extension of the health insurance program. She was also involved in the reconciliating countries who fought against each other in World War II.

In 1979, she became the first elected president of the European Parliament. She was deputy president in 1984 and 1989, and presided over the Parliament's Legal Commission from 1982 to 1984. From 1984 to 1989, she was also president of the Liberal Group of the European Parliament, where a major focus of her work has been human rights and the construction of a united Europe.

In 1993, on her return to the French government as Minister of State for Social, Health and Urban Affairs, Mme. Veil was directly responsible for settling riots in French suburbs, reforming the medical system, and helping to awaken France to the serious problems of drug addiction and AIDS. Currently, she plays a key role in the French government's effort to increase the participation of women in politics.

A member of the WHO Task Force for Health in Development, she has been a forceful advocate in assuring that protection and promotion of health and quality of life in the world's developing countries go hand-in-hand with economic growth and technological progress.

Charles K. Williams, II, field director of the Corinth Excavations of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. A 1953 honor graduate of Princeton University, Dr. Williams received a M.F.A. in architecture from Princeton in 1956 and a Ph.D. in classical archaeology from Penn in 1978.

Since 1966, when he became field director of the Corinth Excavations--one of the most important ongoing investigations in the classical world--Dr. Williams has been making significant contributions to knowledge about Corinth's long history, and setting the standards for twenty-first century archaeology with innovative technological applications, such as electronic site surveys and topographical analyses via satellite imaging. One measure of his prodigious influence on the field is the 1993 Gold Medal which the American Institute of Archaeology awarded him for his splendid achievements.

Dr. Williams's influence is felt very strongly at Penn, where his visionary and magnanimous commitments to the University and its Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology have assured the University a succession of great scholars and outstanding students in the coming years. His many endowments include the directorship of the Museum, a professorship in the history of art, two post-doctoral fellowships, a publication fund, and the newly created Center for Ancient Studies. He has also provided the lead gift for a new climate-controlled collections/research wing for the Museum.

Ahmed Zewail, Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at CalTech. One of the world's leading physical chemists, and the first to realize the significance of ultrafast laser chemistry in the study of the dynamics of individual molecules, he has fundamentally changed the teaching and research in a core area of chemistry.

Dr. Zewail received his B.S. and M.S. from Alexandria University, Egypt, in 1967 and 1969, respectively, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Penn in 1974. His path-breaking work has established the new field of laser femtochemistry in which is it now possible to "view" motion in a chemical reaction and to "view" molecules falling apart in real time, equal to one thousand-million-millionth of a second. His ingenious methodology and theoretical insights have contributed significantly to the understanding of the complex molecular processes of chemical reactions.

Dr. Zewail holds the highest honors of the world's scientific community, including the 1993 National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry; the Peter Debye Award of the American Chemical Society; the Sir Cyril Hinshelwood Chair Lecture Series, Oxford. The author of more than 300 articles and books, lecturer and visiting professor throughout the world, Dr. Zewail leads in international conferences and committees--and is currently an editor-in-chief of the prestigious Chemical Physics Letters--he also continues to teach undergraduates.


Volume 43 Number 31
April 22, 1997

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