Two of SMU’s five 2013 honorary degree recipients will participate in public symposia in their honor during Commencement week. Both events are scheduled for Friday, May 17, and both are free and open to the entire community.
The five individuals who will receive honorary SMU degrees on Saturday each have made distinguished contributions in their fields:
- James Robert (Bob) Biard will receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, for his outstanding contributions in the field of optoelectronics. Biard received the world’s first patent for the light-emitting diode (LED), now ubiquitous in devices ranging from digital clocks and remote controls to television screens and traffic lights. He holds more than 75 patents for his inventions. Biard is an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at Texas A&M.
- Swanee Hunt will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for her efforts toward world peace and gender parity. Hunt was ambassador to Austria during the Balkan War and helped host programs aimed at stabilizing the neighboring Balkan states. She is founder and president of the Institute for Inclusive Security, which trains women peace builders around the globe. She also is a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
- Kay Bailey Hutchison will receive the degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa, for her distinguished career in public service and support of higher education. Hutchison is the first woman to represent Texas in the United States Senate, serving from 1993 to 2012. During her years in the Senate, she expanded higher education opportunities for thousands of Texans and championed advancements in science, technology, engineering and math education. Hutchison helped bring to SMU more than $20 million in federal research funds.
- Francis Christopher Oakley will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his distinguished contributions to higher education as a scholar and administrator. Oakley is the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas and president emeritus of Williams College, where he led establishment of the tutorial form of instruction. He has written 13 books and served as president of the American Council of Learned Societies.
- Bryan A. Stevenson will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his efforts to achieve social equity through criminal justice reform. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair treatment in the legal system. Stevenson also is a professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law.
Bob Biard will participate in an 11 a.m. symposium in his honor Friday, May 17, in the Huit-Zollars Seminar Room, Embrey Engineering Building. The public seminar will describe the events leading up to the invention of the first LED by Biard and Gary Pittman at Texas Instruments in 1962. (Pittman received a B.S. degree in chemistry with honors from SMU in 1953.) Also included will be a discussion of continuing developments in semiconductor light-emitting devices leading to the Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser (VCSEL).
Francis Oakley will participate in a symposium in his honor at 1:30 p.m. on Friday in the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library. The symposium is open to the public, and Oakley will respond to remarks made by Charles Curran, SMU’s Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values; Texas A&M Professor Cary Nederman, an expert in medieval political thought; Bruce Basington, Regents Professor at West Texas A&M; and Willard Spiegelman, SMU’s Dwaine E. Hughes, Jr., Distinguished Professor of English, who was one of Oakley’s undergraduate students. A reception will follow at the home of Jeremy Adams, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the William P. Clements Department of History.
Swanee Hunt will be featured at an invitation-only luncheon and symposium in her honor from noon to 3 p.m. Friday in the Dedman School of Law’s Karcher Auditorium, Storey Hall. The symposium is titled “Demand Abolition” and will address the topics of sex trafficking and prostitution.