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Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees are typically awarded by William & Mary at Charter Day and Commencement ceremonies as well as other special events to distinguished individuals. The tradition was begun in 1756 with the granting of an honorary degree to Benjamin Franklin.

2024 Honorees
2024 Honorary Degree Recipients
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary to the Smithsonian Institute

Lonnie Griffith Bunch III, you have transformed both our capital’s landscape and our understanding of this nation’s identity and history. You set out to create “a place that would make America better,” a source of civic power, bringing people together across differences. In realizing James Baldwin’s famous words “history is literally present in all that we do,” you have redefined the role of museums in this republic.

Raised in Belleville, New Jersey, you discovered from your parents and grandparents the value of education. You learned not only from the history books your grandfather read to you but also by listening in on the adult conversations in your backyard. In those discussions, you have recalled, “there was always a moment of optimism.” That sense of promise inspired your “belief that all things are possible” and conviction to confront wrongs.

After completing studies at American University, you launched a renowned career, with appointments at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. In 2001, you became president of the Chicago Historical Society. You have served on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, with bipartisan appointments from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

You were named founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2005. You began with only one staff member, no funding and no home for your museum. A 2019 Harvard Business Review case study wrote, you “made a way out of no way.” Your fundraising efforts yielded more than $250 million. In 2016, the 400,000-square-foot museum opened to international acclaim. Speaking at the dedication ceremony, then-President Obama said, “It is an act of patriotism to understand where we’ve been. And this museum tells the story of so many patriots.”

Today, the museum is a model for how truth can overcome partisan divisions. It houses a collection of 40,000 objects. It is distinguished as the first “green building” on the National Mall and ranks among the Smithsonian’s most visited sites.

In 2019, you became the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian. You have said, “I want to reach new audiences, shape education and have the Smithsonian become more of a forum for ideas.” Through discovery and expansive storytelling, you position museums as catalysts for community engagement and civic growth.

Your achievements have been widely recognized throughout the country and world. Your contributions to American culture and history have been celebrated with the Freedom Medal from the Roosevelt Institute, the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University’s Hutchins Center and the National Equal Justice Award from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. In 2020, you received the Dan David Prize from Tel Aviv University, the world’s largest history prize. Just one year later, you received France’s highest award, The Legion of Honor.

Lonnie Griffith Bunch, your patriotism in sharing the stories of our country’s history and people is inspiring. The Alma Mater of the Nation proudly honors you in our Year of the Arts. By the virtue of the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William & Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Jeffrey B. Trammell '73, former Rector of the W&M Board of Visitors

Jeffrey Bevis Trammell, you are distinguished by courageous leadership in public affairs. An alumnus and former Rector of William & Mary, you exemplify the very best of this university.

You recall growing up in a small town in Florida that your family had two passions: basketball and politics. Both would play a role in bringing you to William & Mary in 1969 as a transfer student.

You knew you had found your academic home when you visited the university and discovered a close-knit community of engaged faculty and students. “That,” you would later say, “is one of the differentiators about William & Mary … It allows its alumni to have that sense of ‘I’m supposed to do something with this. I’m not just going to sit on the sidelines.’”

You received a basketball scholarship at William & Mary and rose to become team captain. In 1972, you were named all-conference. You studied history and served as president of the university’s chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

After graduation, you played basketball internationally and earned your law degree before launching an illustrious career in public affairs. For years you worked on Capitol Hill, including as counsel to the chair of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. You became senior managing director of public affairs for Hill & Knowlton and then founded Trammell and Company, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. You have dedicated your working life to bettering opportunities for your fellow citizens.

Your expertise has been widely sought by Fortune 500 companies, political campaigns and boards. From 2000 to the present you have advised six presidential campaigns. You have served on the boards of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign and the LGBTQ Victims Remembrance Project for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

So too, Alma Mater is fortunate to benefit from your insight. You were appointed to William & Mary’s Board of Visitors in 2005 and reappointed in 2009. In 2011, you were elected rector, becoming the country’s first openly gay board chair at a major university. Your tenure sharpened William & Mary’s focus on our mission: to provide preeminent learning experiences while maintaining a public university’s commitment to affordability.

In 2022, you were instrumental in creating the Archive of American LGBTQ Political and Legal History at William & Mary. Established in memory of historian John Boswell ’69, the archive is a first in the United States and affirms this university’s commitment to telling a fuller account of U.S. history. The archive collects hundreds of pages of original, declassified materials critical to the movement for civil equality.

Jeffrey Bevis Trammell, never content to sit on the sidelines, you have played an active role in strengthening our democracy for future generations. For your leadership and service, Alma Mater proudly honors you now and for all times coming. By the virtue of the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William & Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa.

2023 Honorees
2023 Honorary Degree Recipients
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, you have dedicated your life to promoting the ideals and interests of the United States of America. You forge collaborative solutions to the complex challenges facing our world and champion future generations of leaders.

Following an illustrious 35-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service, you answered the call to public service once again in 2021, when President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. nominated you as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations. U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana introduced your nomination hearing, saying,“[your] career would be an inspiration to any child thinking that his or her trajectory could be unlimited.”

With strong bipartisan support, you were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 23, 2021, and sworn in on February 24, 2021. You serve as a member of the White House Cabinet. Your immense expertise as a career diplomat has renewed America’s global leadership at a pivotal moment at home and abroad.

You have become known around the world as the people’s ambassador for your compassion for humanity and your commitment to developing genuine, robust relationships. You have focused on climate and water-related issues to promote resilience throughout our world’s oceans and waterways. You advance inclusivity on a global scale through multilateral diplomacy in undeveloped nations. A leader who lifts as you climb, you prioritize assisting those seeking careers in diplomacy as a cornerstone of your work.

Prior to becoming U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, you held an ambassadorship to Liberia from 2008-2012, and postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica. In Washington, you served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

You retired from the State Department in 2017 and led the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic commercial diplomacy firm chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. You were the inaugural Distinguished Resident Fellow in African Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University from fall 2017 to spring 2019.

Growing up, you were the first from your family to graduate from high school. You earned your bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University before attending the University of Wisconsin to pursue graduate study in political science. You completed your master’s in 1975, then continued scholarly work toward a doctorate. You were awarded a fellowship to conduct field research in Liberia — an experience that was formative to your ambassadorship.

Your lifetime of public service to the global community has exemplified excellence, and your accomplishments have been recognized worldwide. You were the 2017 recipient of the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the 2015 recipient of the Bishop John T. Walter Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the 2000 recipient of the Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs. In 2016, the Linda Thomas-Greenfield Preparatory School was named in your honor.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, your story and your impact inspire faith in the ideals of humanitarianism and diplomacy. The Alma Mater of the Nation is proud to honor your fierce dedication and distinguished service. By virtue of the power vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa.

Barbara "Bobbie" Berkeley Ukrop '61, P '85, Philanthropist and alumni leader

Barbara Berkeley Ukrop, from the day you became a student at William & Mary, you have exemplified a life of distinguished leadership and resolute service. Through your generosity of time and spirit, you have greatly strengthened this university and the Commonwealth.

You have cultivated prosperity and well-being in Richmond and beyond. Your volunteer initiatives span housing, historic preservation, social services and children’s issues. You have shared generously your leadership and energy chairing such organizations as the United Way of Greater Richmond, Leadership Metro Richmond and the St. James’s Children’s Center and as a board member of the Historic Richmond Foundation, the Commonwealth Council of the Girl Scouts of America and the Richmond Better Housing Coalition.

With humility and grace, you forge key connections among community leaders and stimulate critical initiatives. As chair of the Annabella R. Jenkins Foundation Board, you were instrumental in helping launch the Greater Richmond Regional crisis hotline number. The result: expanded access to community-based services,particularly for underserved populations.

Your ardent support of Richmond’s historical and cultural legacy has strengthened our understanding of our nation’s democracy. You have served on the board of The Valentine museum, which collects, preserves and interprets Richmond’s past. You served as president of the Downtown Presents board and the Richmond International Music Festival.

While advancing the common good throughout Virginia, you have also mentored the next generation here at your alma mater. You have embraced countless leadership opportunities at the university, graciously lending your wisdom and service for 60 years. You served on the William & Mary Board of Visitors for two terms, the William & Mary Foundation Board, your Reunion Committees, the For the Bold campaign committee, as a member of the Presidential Search Committee in 2004-2005 and as the national chair of the William & Mary Annual Fund. You generously supported programs across the university, including both men’s and women’s athletics, Swem Library, the W&M Alumni Association, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business and the School of Education.

You established the Jim and Bobbie Ukrop Innovation & Design Studio with your husband, Jim. In this vital space, both young and young-at-heart students and executives come together to learn and practice the skills and mindset needed to identify and solve today’s big problems and to explore what is possible tomorrow. Through your resources, ideas and encouragement, you have catalyzed learning. A space for critical collaboration and innovation, the I.D. Studio will provide lasting benefits for William & Mary students and all the communities they serve for decades to come.

Your formidable dedication to leadership and public service is recognized throughout the Commonwealth. In recognition of your long and positive impact on the broader Richmond community, you were named one of the 10 Outstanding Women of Greater Richmond by the YWCA in 1986. You received the Junior League of Richmond’s Barbara Ransome Andrews Award in 1990 and the Richmond First Club Good Government Award in 1993. William & Mary awarded you the prestigious Alumni Medallion in 1987 and named you Homecoming Grand Marshal in 1994.

Barbara Berkeley Ukrop, your alma mater is proud to honor your innovative and faithful service. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

2022 Honorees
2022 Honorary Degree Recipients
Howard J. Busbee '65, J.D. '67, M.L.T. '68, former faculty member and dean, Raymond A. Mason School of Business

Howard James Busbee, through every season of life — from when you first entered as a student to your time on the faculty — you have committed yourself to strengthening this university. Selfless with your time and talents, you have served as chair of the William & Mary Foundation, president of the Alumni Association, co-chair of the Robert Boyle Legacy Society, chair and vice chair of the Olde Guarde Council and vice chair of the Real Estate Foundation, as well as a member of the President’s Council, Annual Fund Boards, the Naming and Renaming Working Group and many other bodies across campus.

A thoughtful guide through complex challenges, you are known for building consensus on behalf of the university and every student who comes here. For your unwavering generosity of time and spirit, you have received the Alumni Service Award, the Alumni Medallion and the Law School’s Citizen Lawyer Award.

You are a three-time alumnus, having earned a B.A. in 1965, a J.D. in 1967 and a M.L.T. in 1968. Your love of William & Mary is shared by your wife, Mary, who is an honorary alumna, and two of your children and one granddaughter who also are alumni.

You came home to William & Mary in 2001, following a 33-year career with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a C.P.A. and a member of the Virginia Bar. In what became a second career, you returned to the classroom. You joined both the business and law school faculties, then served as assistant dean of the Master of Accounting and Undergraduate Business programs. You led the annual William & Mary Tax Conference; the Howard J. Busbee Finance Academy was founded in honor of that leadership. In 2018, Virginia Business recognized your contributions to finance education — a second career in which you guided countless students on their paths from college to work.

In Williamsburg, Richmond and beyond, you forge connections around shared passions, grand and small. To every passion for education, travel, art, theater — or antique fire engines and crazy socks — you bring joy and curiosity. In this way, you connected William & Mary with the Foundation for Hospital Art. Through your and Mary’s generosity, our community created numerous pieces of art that brighten the walls of the national cancer center, pediatric hospitals in Havana and around the world.

Howard James Busbee, your alma mater has flourished for your joyful, creative and steadfast service. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia's third congressional district

Robert Cortez "Bobby" Scott, statesman, lawmaker, pioneer, change-maker. Your 43 years in the Virginia General Assembly and United States Congress exemplify the highest values of service.

As the first African American elected to Congress from the Commonwealth since Reconstruction and the second African American elected to Congress in Virginia’s history, you have served Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District since 1993 with distinction.

The son of a school board member and a teacher, you grew up in Newport News. You graduated from Harvard and earned your law degree from Boston College. You joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the oldest historically Black Greek letter organization. The career that followed has fulfilled the fraternity’s motto: “First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend All.”

You have often shared how the example of your parents inspired you, as a lawmaker dedicated to education, healthcare and justice. In Congress, you have strengthened U.S. laws and policy through more than 28 years on the House Committee on Education and Labor, which you currently chair. Over nearly three decades, you have sponsored 282 pieces of legislation. You have co-sponsored more than 4,000.

As a lawyer and public official, you advocate for issues and for people. You have long upheld the imperative of equity in education. Your tireless work to desegregate schools ensures open doors and open opportunities. It is fitting that you were once called by the National Parent Teacher Association “a champion for change for our nation’s youth.” You promote career pipelines, workforce development, fair wages, affordable health care, crime prevention, consumer protection and reduced student loan debt.

Prior to your legislative career, you founded the Peninsula Legal Aid Center. The center provides free legal services in Hampton and Williamsburg, where students and faculty from William & Mary Law School often devote their time.

In this year of William & Mary’s Asian Centennial, we also recognize you as a proud member of the Filipino- American community. Charter Day 2022 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of William & Mary’s first student from Asia. In honoring you, we celebrate the myriad contributions of generations of students of Asian, Pacific Islander and Middle Eastern/Southwest Asian descent to our university.

Robert Cortez Scott, you have served your community, state and nation brilliantly and forcefully. Countless organizations have recognized your dedication to public service and William & Mary is honored to join them. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa.

Glenn Youngkin, Governor of Virginia

Glenn Youngkin, from your career in finance and management, to a not-for-profit startup, you stepped into the highest role as a servant-leader in your home state. As Virginia’s 74th governor, you have sworn to “faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon [the office],” including to support the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The commonwealth’s citizens have elected you to undertake and fulfill that oath.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, your family moved to Virginia Beach after your father lost his job. You played basketball at Norfolk Academy and received a scholarship at Rice University — earning both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science while playing forward for all four years. A Master of Business Administration from Harvard followed.

Your professional path exemplifies the value of principled achievement, which our Mason School of Business instills in William & Mary graduates. During your 25 years with The Carlyle Group, you were entrusted with increasing responsibility, helping to grow it into a global leader. At Carlyle, you turned around underperforming operations, led the global industry group, opened a London office and launched many of its European funds.

Your upbringing and your faith instilled an abiding sense of duty to ensure prosperity for others. At Carlyle, you helped fund the retirements of teachers, police officers and firefighters. Volunteering is an everyday commitment. You have coached multiple youth basketball teams in Northern Virginia and served as church warden at Holy Trinity Church.

As a response to the hardships experienced by Virginians during the pandemic, you and your wife, Suzanne, founded the nonprofit Virginia Ready Initiative to train out-of-work Virginians for jobs in tech, healthcare, and other sectors so that they can get back to work. The initiative began, as you have said, with a time-honored question of entrepreneurs: how might we? How might we “put together a coalition of businesses and community colleges and funding to retrain people for jobs that are in demand in sectors that are growing?” By doing this, you surmised, those who lost work in vulnerable industries during the pandemic, can find new careers in sectors resilient to future economic shocks.

You have named mental health as a top priority of your administration. William & Mary applauds this commitment. It is fitting as a new alumnus of our university, that you value flourishing for all. William & Mary seeks to create conditions that ensure our community thrives for all time coming. We seek to empower those who live, learn and work here to make choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. We welcome you as a partner in this crucial work.

Glenn Youngkin, your drive to innovate and your dedication to the well-being of your community will serve you well as you step from one career to another, taking on the solemn duties of governor of this great commonwealth. By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Visitors and the Ancient Royal Charter of The College of William and Mary in Virginia, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa.

View more Honorary Degree recipients.