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Duke Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for 2012

Duke Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for 2012

University will award six honorary degrees at its commencement exercises May 13

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Durham, NC - Duke University will award six honorary degrees at its commencement exercises on Sunday, May 13, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday.

The degree recipients are business and philanthropic leader James Barksdale; Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; musician Emmylou Harris; wrongful convictions spokesperson Darryl Hunt; Nobel physicist Robert Richardson; and journalist and author Fareed Zakaria.

Commencement, featuring an address by Zakaria, will begin at 10 a.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium and is open to the public.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Duke to honor these remarkable individuals," Brodhead said. "As our graduates begin to imagine how they can put their education to use in the world, they will be inspired by the stories of how these extraordinary men and women developed their particular talents and gifts in service to society."
 
Barksdale is president and chairman of Barksdale Management Corp., a philanthropic investment company. He also serves as chairman of Spread Networks, a company he helped establish in 2009. Prior to founding The Barksdale Group in 1999, he worked as COO of Federal Express, CEO of AT&T Wireless Services, and then as president and CEO of Netscape Communications Corp. until the company merged with America Online in 1999. 

In January 2000, the Barksdale Foundation granted $100 million to the State of Mississippi to create a statewide reading institute. The Barksdale Reading Institute is a joint venture with the Mississippi Department of Education.

He served as chairman of Mississippi's Governor's Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal after Hurricane Katrina.

Brinker in 1982 founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure after promising her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Komen for the Cure has invested almost $2 billion to research, community health, advocacy and global programs that serve hundreds of thousands of women in more than 50 countries.

Brinker, herself a breast cancer survivor, was U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003 and U.S. Chief of Protocol from 2007 to the end of the George W. Bush administration. In 2009, President Barack Obama named Brinker a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for her work to end breast cancer. 

She serves as the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control and has written four books, including the New York Times best-seller "Promise Me," about Komen's growth from a promise made to her sister to the global organization of today. 

Harris has been a major contributor to several genres of music for nearly four decades, including country-rock, bluegrass, folk and Americana. Her many honors include 12 Grammy Awards, induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1992 and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

Harris began to study music seriously while attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on a drama scholarship, but left college to pursue her musical aspirations in New York. Along with her own success, she has partnered on songs with artists such as Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, The Band, Elvis Costello and Dolly Parton.

Harris also has been a vocal opponent of landmines, and is an active member of PETA who founded an animal shelter in Nashville.

Hunt served nearly 19 years in prison and nearly received the death penalty after being accused and twice convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of newspaper copy editor Deborah Sykes in Winston-Salem. New DNA evidence led to Hunt's exoneration in 2004 and to a confession to the crime by another suspect.

Today Hunt is active in the nonprofit Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, which provides assistance to individuals who have been wrongfully incarcerated, helps ex-offenders adapt to life outside prison and advocates for changes in the justice system so innocent people won't spend time incarcerated. He's also active with the Innocence Project.

"The Trials of Darryl Hunt," a documentary, was a Sundance Film Festival selection in 2006. Hunt also has been a speaker at Duke Law School's week-long orientation program.

Richardson is the Floyd Newman Professor of Physics at Cornell University, and previously worked as Cornell's vice provost for research. In 1996, Richardson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for the 1972 discovery of the property of superfluidity in helium-3 atoms.

His past experimental work focused on using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to study the quantum properties of liquids and solids at extremely low temperatures.

Richardson earned his Ph.D. at Duke under the direction of physics professor emeritus Horst Meyer. He was a member of the Duke Board of Trustees from 1997-2007, serving on the board's executive committee from 2002-2007.

Richardson has helped shape science policy at the National Science Foundation and at the National Academy of Sciences.

Zakaria, a CNN anchor, TIME magazine editor-at-large and Washington Post columnist,  has interviewed many of the world's most influential leaders, including President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Dalai Lama.

Since 2008, he has hosted "Fareed Zakaria GPS," an international and domestic affairs program viewed worldwide on CNN. From 1992-2010, he was managing editor of Foreign Affairs, a journal of international politics and economics. During this period he also worked as an analyst for ABC News, a columnist for Newsweek and an editor of Newsweek International. He was named editor-at-large at TIME in October 2010.

Zakaria's honors include being named to Foreign Policy magazine's list of "Top 100 Global Thinkers," and Newsweek's "Power 50" list of the most influential political figures of 2010.

More Information

Contact: Keith Lawrence
Affiliation: News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-8059

More Information

Contact: Keith Lawrence
Affiliation: News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-8059