April 29, 2021

To Our Soon-To-Be-Graduates,

I am delighted to write to you today to announce the distinguished individuals who will join us for Commencement and receive honorary degrees from the college. Chief among them will be our Commencement speaker, Jeffrey A. Flaks, president and chief executive officer of Hartford HealthCare.

For the past 15 months, Flaks, a Connecticut native, has helped the state navigate the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, serving as co-chair of the Governor’s Health System Response Team and leading some 33,000 Hartford HealthCare professionals and an enterprise that includes seven acute-care hospitals and an extensive network that cares for more than 1.7 million individuals.

He began his tenure with Hartford HealthCare in 2004; he was named president and CEO of Hartford Hospital in 2011 and CEO of the entire system in 2019. His service and experience includes leadership roles in health systems in Detroit and New York City, including on September 11, 2001, at the hospital located closest to the World Trade Center. Those experiences prepared him and shaped him to become the visionary health care leader he is today. We are proud of and grateful for Trinity’s partnership with Hartford HealthCare, which has served us in innumerable ways in managing successfully through the pandemic.

Flaks will attend Commencement in person and will deliver his address at both of our ceremonies on Friday, May 21. He will be joined—whether in person or virtually—by several other honorees. In addition to our 2021 honorands, we extended an invitation to those selected to receive honorary degrees in 2020, when the pandemic prevented us from hosting a full in-person Commencement. We are delighted that some of our 2020 honorees will be with us this year.

2021 Honorands

In addition to Flaks, this year’s honorary degree recipients are:

  • Philip O. Geier, co-founder, Davis United World College Scholars Program; creator, Projects for Peace initiative
  • Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist, The Nature Conservancy; Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor, Professor and Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Public Law, and co-director of the Climate Center, Texas Tech University
  • Philip S. Khoury ’71, associate provost and Ford International Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; former trustee and vice chair of Trinity’s Board of Trustees

2020 Honorands

On the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Trinity, the college was to have bestowed honorary degrees on the first four women to receive undergraduate degrees from Trinity, in 1970: Trinity College Professor of Theater and Dance, Emerita, Judy Dworin; Elizabeth Martin Gallo; Judith Odlum Pomeroy, and Roberta Russell. Sadly, Russell passed away in January 2021. Gallo will participate in this year’s ceremonies.

The college also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Cinestudio in 2020 and planned to award honorary bachelor’s degrees to the theater’s co-founders and co-executive directors James Hanley and Peter McMorris. Hanley will participate in this year’s Commencement.

Francisco L. Borges ’74, a former State of Connecticut treasurer, Hartford City Council member, and deputy mayor who now is chair and managing partner of Landmark Partners, was named a 2020 honorand and will join us this year.

The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, the 27th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, was the only 2020 honoree to receive his degree from Trinity last year, when he served as our Baccalaureate speaker. He will not be in attendance this year.

We will share this news with your families and the wider Trinity community soon, and we look forward to celebrating you and your Trinity journey in just a few weeks! For more information about Commencement 2021, please visit the Commencement website.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience