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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.

2022 Honorees

Glenn Youngkin, Governor of Virginia
Howard J. Busbee '65, J.D. '67, M.L.T. '68former faculty member and dean, Raymond A. Mason School of Business
Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia's third congressional district

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.

View more Honorary Degree recipients.