SMU expects to award approximately 2,100 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the University-wide ceremony. Rice will receive one of two honorary degrees to be conferred in the ceremony.
Rice has achieved prominence in both government service and higher education. She currently holds three positions at Stanford University: professor of political economy in the Graduate School of Business, Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution, and professor of political science.
“Dr. Rice has led a distinguished career as a scholar, academic administrator and public official,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As a public official, she served our country during a time of unique challenges. As a teacher-scholar, she is devoted to the education of talented young people. She is well suited to provide compelling and wide-ranging perspectives as SMU’s Commencement speaker.”
Rice earned her Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Denver, a Master’s from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her academic career began in 1981 when she joined the Stanford faculty. A dedicated teacher, she has received two of the university’s highest teaching awards. She rose through the faculty ranks to serve as Stanford provost from 1993-99, the first woman and first African American to hold that position.
Rice’s first experience in government service came in 1989, when she left Stanford for Washington to serve for two years on the National Security Council staff under President George H.W. Bush. She was the president’s special assistant for national security affairs during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany.
After returning to Stanford in 1991, Rice served as provost for six years before again joining public service on the staff of President George W. Bush. She was the president’s national security adviser from 2001-05. She then served from 2005-09 as the nation’s 66th secretary of state, the second woman and the first African American woman to hold the post.
Rice currently serves as chair of the Board of Advisers of the Bush Institute, part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU campus.
During the 2012 Commencement ceremony, SMU will confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree upon Rice and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Nancy Cartwright (right), considered one of the most important and influential contemporary philosophers of science. Cartwright, who earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics.
The author of seven books, Cartwright has produced path-breaking work on issues such as the nature of physical laws, causation and scientific reasoning. She is a pioneer of today’s practice-based philosophy of science and helped develop the philosophy of social policy, economics, sociology, medicine, epidemiology and political science.