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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.

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

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
Award citation

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
Award citation

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
Award citation

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
Award citation

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.

2021 Honorees
2021 Honorary Degree Recipients
Jayne Weeks Barnard, James Cutler Professor of Law, emerita
Award citation

Jayne Weeks Barnard, colleague and guide, yours is a career marked by passionate service. As a lawyer and scholar, you have fought tirelessly for civil rights and civil justice. That work inspired countless law students, as well as this university as a whole.

Hailing from South Euclid, Ohio, and a self-proclaimed “word person,” you chose to major in journalism at the University of Illinois. During an internship on Capitol Hill, you saw in action the incredibly smart and dedicated women who kept government working. You witnessed the invisibility of that work, as well, and carried that knowledge with you on your path to law school at the University of Chicago.

The colleagues and friends who know you best give you a triple crown: book smart, street smart and politically savvy. You have always approached the law with humanity and integrity. As a nationally-known expert in corporations, corporate governance and securities regulation law, you were the first to propose that people harmed by economic crimes should be able to present victim-impact testimony at sentencing hearings. Your work was instrumental in Congress ultimately passing the Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004.

In 1985, you joined the faculty of William & Mary Law School and immediately made an impact on this community. A former student says your dignity, classiness and kind personality gave her a model for how she wanted to conduct herself as a lawyer and professional woman. You take special pride in your involvement with the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2010 the ACLU of Virginia elected you as president, a culmination of a 30-year commitment to the cause.

Whether helping to found the Business Law Review or chairing countless committees with great energy, you bring your full self to all you do. After retiring from the Law School, you co-chaired the committee that coordinated a year-long celebration, commemoration and exploration to mark the 100th anniversary of women at William & Mary. You currently serve on the boards of the Hospice House & Support Care of Williamsburg and Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP).

Jayne Weeks Barnard, you are a trailblazer who has made an indelible impact on the field of law, your students and this university. William & Mary is so pleased to honor you. By virtue of the authority 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 Laws, Honoris Causa.

Jacquelyn Yvonne McLendon, Professor of English and Africana Studies, emerita
Award citation

Jacquelyn Yvonne McLendon, in the nearly three decades since you arrived at William & Mary, you have played a pivotal role advancing scholarship, learning and self-understanding at this university. Even in your retirement, the fruits of your research shine a light on members of our community whose stories have seldom been told.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, you grew up loving to read and write and dreamt of one day becoming a writer. After working for the government and starting a family, you decided to attend college in hopes of moving up in the government sector. Little did you know you were embarking on a 10-year-long path to become a scholar, academic, diversity advocate and beloved professor.

After earning your undergraduate degree at Temple University as a single mother, you moved home to Ohio to pursue your master’s and doctoral degrees at Case Western University while caring for your mother. At the encouragement of several professors, you chose the arduous path of an academic trailblazer.

From the moment you came to William & Mary, you propelled change. You pioneered the creation of a Black Studies Program and served as its founding director, and you continued to shape its development as it evolved with the expanding discipline into Africana studies. As professor of English and Africana studies, your scholarship illuminated the Harlem Renaissance, and the work of Black women writers and Black American artists. When William & Mary marked the 50th anniversary of the university’s first African-American students in residence, you leaned in once again, to chair of the commemoration planning committee.

The conversations you had, people you met and stories you heard during the year-long commemoration inspired you to write the university’s first history of its Black community: “Building on the Legacy: African Americans at William & Mary, An Illustrated History of 50 Years and Beyond.” You have fulfilled your childhood dream of becoming a writer by authoring and editing numerous other books, including “The Politics of Color in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen,” “Phillis Wheatley: A Revolutionary Poet” and “Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen.”

An honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa, you have continued to teach part-time since retiring in 2013, including your current role teaching remotely for the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Jacquelyn Yvonne McLendon, we honor your groundbreaking work amplifying voices who have too long been lost and silenced. William & Mary has been fortunate indeed in your leadership. By virtue of the authority 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.

George Warren Cook, artist and former Assistant Chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe
Award citation

George Warren Cook, you are a celebrated artist, decades-long community leader and well-respected elder of the Pamunkey Tribe. We honor today the positive impact of your many contributions to the lives of those in your Tribe and beyond.

Raised on the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William County, Virginia, during the time of segregation, you were unable to attend Virginia public schools. A one-room Reservation school offered education until the age of 14. To earn a diploma, you left to attend the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Reservation in North Carolina. Attending school with members of other tribes was not always easy, but it gave you the opportunity to work with several renowned Cherokee artists. Among these artists was Amanda Crow, an Eastern Band Cherokee woodcarver and graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, who inspired you to pursue art.

As one of only a few Virginia Indians from your generation to attend college, you pursued your passion by studying art at West Carolina University and Virginia Commonwealth University. As an artist, you work in many media, including woodcarving, painting, jewelry and ceramics. Your work has been exhibited in institutions such as the Smithsonian and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. And you have advanced the careers of others, playing a key role in launching the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center, where you served as director and curator for three decades. As manager of the Powhatan Artisans Project, your leadership helped revitalize craft and artistic expression among the Virginia Indian tribes.

Following in the footsteps of your father and grandfather, you helped lead the Pamunkey Indian Tribe for four decades as a member of its tribal government, including 25 years as assistant chief. As a tribal leader, you secured funding for and directed the Mattaponi Pamunkey Monacan Jobs Training Act Consortium, which supported education, job training and job placement among Virginia Indians. You also secured and managed several federal grants to support home improvements for reservation residents, as well as a major renovation of the Pamunkey Indian Fish Hatchery, which you later managed.

Throughout your life, you have worked tirelessly to preserve the history of your tribe and shape its future. You played an instrumental role in helping the Pamunkey people achieve long-awaited federal recognition in 2016. You retired from tribal government in September 2020, making this year a fitting time to honor your unrivaled knowledge of Pamunkey history, culture and practices.

George Warren Cook, for your artistic achievements, commitment to your community and your decades-long leadership of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, William & Mary is proud to honor you. By virtue of the authority 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.

Patrick James O’Connell, Chef and Proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington
Award citation

Patrick James O’Connell, you are a recognized innovator and entrepreneur, a self-taught chef and restauranteur whose cuisine has drawn admirers from around the world. Your Inn at Little Washington has earned countless honors, including being the only restaurant in the Washington, D.C., area to earn three stars from the Michelin Guide, and the only Michelin-rated restaurant in Virginia.

As a young man growing up in Clinton, Maryland, you took a job at Mr. H Hamburgers at the age of 15. You have described this as the best decision you ever made. From the moment you walked in, you found restaurants to be like living theaters, and discovered a place where you could truly be yourself amongst kindred spirits.

After earning an undergraduate degree in drama from the Catholic University of America and studying at George Washington University, you pursued the arts of extraordinary hospitality in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Using a wood-burning cookstove and an electric frying pan purchased at a yard sale, you started a catering business out of your farmhouse in Washington, Virginia. You opened your own restaurant in an abandoned garage — the iconic launch site for all entrepreneurs.

With passion and vision, you have transformed your restaurant from a neighborhood eatery to an international culinary phenomenon. At a time when few thought there could be anything refined about American cooking, you took cherished childhood flavors and reimagined them in ways piquant and grand.

Lovingly referred to as “The Pope of American Cuisine,” you have earned such distinctions as the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. The Inn has been named as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by the International Herald Tribune.

In addition to your work at the Inn, you are deeply invested in your community, serving in such roles as chairman of the Architectural Review Board of Washington, Virginia, and working with multiple charitable organizations, including Share Our Strength and Population Services International. You currently serve as president of Relais & Chateâux North America, and your American Culinary Pioneer Awards are presented annually. In the more than 40 years since you first opened the doors of your Inn, you are in your kitchen nearly every day — the spot in the universe where you flourish and help ensure your guests will too.

Patrick James O’Connell, for the immense creativity your talents have brought to our Commonwealth and the world, this university is proud to honor you. By virtue of the authority 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.

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