A poet, physicist and human rights lawyer will receive honorary degrees at SMU’s 95th Commencement ceremony May 15 at 9:30 a.m. in Moody Coliseum.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. University of California-Berkeley physicist Saul Perlmutter will receive the honorary Doctor of Science degree, and Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Akopovna Moskalenko will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Jorie Graham, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and MacArthur Award winner, currently is Boylston Professor of Rhetoric at Harvard University. She has been an accomplished and controversial figure since the publication of her first volume, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, 30 years ago. Expanding the limits of poetry to incorporate an ever-enlarging focus on history, social and scientific issues, as well as the traditional subjects of love and the inner life, she has changed what one thinks of as a poem. Raised in Rome and educated at the Sorbonne and New York University, Graham taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop before assuming the Harvard chair formerly occupied by John Quincy Adams, Robert Fitzgerald and Seamus Heaney.
Saul Perlmutter is professor of physics at the University of California-Berkeley, where he earned his Ph.D. He also is head of the Supernova Cosmology Project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He leads an international team that studied distant exploding stars to measure how fast the universe was expanding at different times in its history. Using novel observational techniques, his work contradicted the long-held assumption that expansion of the universe is slowing due to gravity. Perlmutter provided firm evidence for the existence of dark energy as the majority substance of the universe, a substance whose precise nature remains a major mystery in physics.
Karinna Akopovna Moskalenko, Russia’s leading human rights lawyer, studied law at Leningrad State University and later specialized in human rights at the University of Birmingham in England. She is respected worldwide for her advocacy on behalf of clients rich and poor, voiceless casualties of war and vocal critics of the Kremlin. Moskalenko and her team at the International Protection Centre, the human rights organization she founded, have won more than 90 cases before the European Court of Human Rights, whose judgments have been legally binding on Russia since 1998. She has been elected to the International Commission of Jurists and awarded the International Helsinki Federation‘s Human Rights Recognition Award and the Justice William J. Brennan Award.
SMU expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees to students at the Universitywide Commencement ceremony. The University’s schools and departments will hold individual diploma ceremonies later that day.