This year’s group of honorary degree recipients include five distinguished Americans and a Honduran, chief among them James F. Jones, Jr., who is retiring after 10 years as Trinity’s president, and Paul E. Raether, who is stepping down after 12 years as chair of the Board of Trustees, the longest stint in the College’s 191-year history.
The other recipients are journalist Katie Couric, who will deliver the 2014 commencement address; Julieta Castellanos, a human rights activist from Honduras; engineer and inventor Eric Roy Fossum; and Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., a civil rights activist and adviser to Bill Clinton.
James F. Jones, Jr.
Jones, the 21st president of Trinity, arrived here having been president of Kalamazoo College in Michigan and having held posts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree from Emory University, a Certificat from the Sorbonne, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University.
Trinity has undergone a physical, social and academic transformation under Jones, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Under his leadership, the Long Walk was restored to its 19th-century beauty; Vernon Social has been reinvented as a gathering place for the campus community; the Crescent Street townhouses were built; Gates Quad was significantly upgraded; and the Chapel has been repaired.
Jones has also vastly improved Trinity’s financial status, initiating the Cornerstone and Legacy campaigns -- the largest philanthropic efforts in College history -- that enabled the school to enhance its academic excellence, increase access for deserving students, and expand the ranks of the faculty.
Paul E. Raether
Raether, ’68, P’93, ’96, ’01, who works for the global investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1989, assuming the chairmanship in 2002. At Trinity, where he was a history major, Raether belonged to Psi Upsilon and participated in soccer, baseball and skiing. Upon graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy before earning an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College and beginning a successful career in finance.
Raether is among the most philanthropic of Trinity’s alumni, founding the Chair’s Circle, a program that recognizes leadership-level annual donors. His and his family’s support has made possible the completion of the Raether Library and Information Technology Center, five Raether faculty chairs, faculty development initiatives, the Dream Camp summer program for Hartford children, and a scholarship fund in memory of his father.
Raether will add an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to other commendations he has received from Trinity: the Eigenbrodt Cup, the Gary McQuaid Award and the President’s Leadership Medal, the highest honors given by the College’s alumni organization. As a result of his generosity, Raether and his wife, Wendy, are on the Trinity Wall of Honor.
Couric, an award-winning journalist and TV personality, devoted cancer research advocate, documentary film producer and author of a best-selling book, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. She is the host of Katie, a daily syndicated daytime talk show and a Yahoo News global anchor. She is also the executive producer and narrator of Fed Up, a documentary about the spread of childhood obesity.
Couric served as a special correspondent for ABC News, contributed to ABC World News, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, This Week, and primetime news programs from August 2011 to December 2013. Her steady rise in television news occurred over a 15-year span as she co-anchored NBC News’s Today (1991-2006) and became the first solo female anchor of a national nightly news broadcast as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (2006-2011). At CBS News, Couric also contributed segments to 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning and primetime specials.
Couric’s interviewing and reporting skills have won her many notable awards, among them the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast in 2008 and 2009; the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism’s Walter Cronkite Award for Special Achievement in 2009; and the University of South Dakota and Freedom Forum’s Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, also in 2009.
A year later, Couric won an Alfred I. DuPont Award for her interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric was awarded a second DuPont for a series she conceived on the impact of the recession on children in America. And she received an Emmy for her profile of Captain Chesley Sullenberger, entitled “Saving Flight 1549.”
A sociologist by training, Julieta Castellanos was a professor and is now president of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) in Tegucigalpa, the country’s largest university. She is also a columnist for The Herald Journal, and has shed light on the scourge of drug trafficking and rampant corruption in Honduras.
The founder of the Violence Observatory, a center for crime statistics at UNAH, Castellanos has directed the University Institute on Democracy, Peace and Security and been a commissioner of the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since the expulsion of then-Presidente Manuel Zelaya Rosales, she has worked to heal the wounds dividing the Honduran people.
Castellanos has persevered, waging a public war against drug cartels and corrupt police and government institutions. A powerful voice for change, Castellanos has been recognized by the U.S. Department of State, which gave her an International Women of Courage Award in 2013. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Eric Roy Fossum
Although Eric Fossum ’79, holds 150 U.S. patents and is a professor with the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, he is best known as the inventor of the cellphone camera, otherwise known as the CMOS image sensor or “camera-on-a-chip.” Fossum will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree.
A native of Connecticut and a physics and engineering major at Trinity, Fossum later earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering and applied science from Yale University and then joined the faculty at Columbia University. In 1990, he was employed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, where he developed the technology to miniaturize the cameras on spacecraft. He later co-founded Photobit Corporation to market his invention.
He has also been CEO of Siimpel Corporation and consulted with Samsung Electronics on 3D image sensors. At Dartmouth, he is coordinating the Thayer School’s Ph.D. Innovation Program – the first of its kind, which addresses the need for engineers with technical and entrepreneurial expertise.
Fossum was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011; was selected as a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2012; and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2013. Later this year, he will receive the Wilbur Cross Medal of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association.
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
A civil rights attorney who successfully sued the University of Georgia for its racial discrimination policies, Jordan has been CEO of the National Urban League, executive director of the United Negro College Fund, director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council, and Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Jordan also was a trusted advisor to President Bill Clinton, chairing his transition team in 1992 and serving on several presidential advisory councils. Since 2000, Jordan has been a senior managing director at Lazard Freres in New York City and senior counsel with the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He is a former president of The Economic Club of Washington D.C.
Jordan is the author of two books: Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir and Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out. In 2001, Jordan was awarded The Spingarn Medal, the highest honor the NAACP awards each year for his achievements as a lawyer, presidential adviser and champion of human and civil rights. Jordan will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.