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Duke University to Award Seven Honorary Degrees at 2013 Commencement

Commencement, featuring an address by Melinda Gates, will begin at 10 a.m. May 12 at Wallace Wade Stadium and is open to the public.

Duke University will award seven honorary degrees at its commencement exercises on Sunday, May 12, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday.

The degree recipients are human rights activist Marguerite "Maggy" Barankitse; immune system scientist Dr. Max Cooper; David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States; Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor of African-American history and literature; philanthropist and businesswoman Melinda Gates; investment manager William H. (Bill) Gross; and choreographer Judith Jamison.

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

"It's Duke's great honor to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of these individuals," Brodhead said.  "As our graduates imagine their future paths, they will be inspired by the ways these men and women have contributed to our world."  

In 1993, Barankitse was working for the Catholic bishop in eastern Burundi, Africa, when ethnic Tutsis stormed the bishop's residence and killed 72 Hutus. Barankitse saved 25 children and set out to provide a safe haven for them. 

That home she founded for 25 orphaned children who survived the attack, known as Maison Shalom, or "House of Peace," has grown into a multi-functional service agency that supports more than 30,000 young people and families. Her work emphasizes the interrelations of education, health, microfinance, community and faith.  

Barankitse's international awards include the Award of Human Rights of the French government, the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, and the 2005 Nansen Refugee Award, presented by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  

Cooper is a scholar at the Georgia Research Alliance, which uses the state's research capabilities to foster economic development in Georgia, and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.  

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Cooper identified the two arms of the immune system, called T cells and B cells. He has been chair of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology Advisory Board for seven years and collaborates with many Duke faculty.  

Cooper's awards include the Robert Koch Prize,  American Association of Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award and the Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges. 

In 2009, Ferriero became the 10th archivist of the United States. A former director of New York Public Libraries, he is the first librarian to serve as the nation's archivist and to lead the National Archives and Records Administration.

From 1996 to 2004, Ferriero was Duke's university librarian and vice provost for library affairs. In that role, he helped raise more than $50 million to expand and renovate the campus library, developed initiatives for instructional technology and worked to increase public access to libraries and museums throughout North Carolina.   

As director of New York Public Libraries from 2004-09, Ferriero helped lead the integration of four research libraries and 87 branch libraries,  creating the largest public library system in the United States.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. directs the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is known for his extensive research of African-American history and literature, and for developing and expanding the African-American studies program at Harvard.

Gates' has written and presented several PBS series, including "Black in Latin America," "African American Lives 1," "African American Lives 2," "Looking for Lincoln" and "Faces of America." He is editor-in-chief of, a daily online magazine focusing on African-American issues.

Gates' numerous honors include a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the National Humanities Medal. He was a member of the Duke faculty from 1989 to 1991.  He has written 16 books, most recently "Tradition and the Black Atlantic", "Life Upon These Shores," and the "Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader"  as well as 12 documentaries for PBS, most recently "Finding Your Roots." He graduated from Yale summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. 

Melinda Gates is co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation focuses on improving global health, eliminating global poverty and expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology in the United States. With a $33.5 billion endowment, it is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world.  

Gates served as a Duke trustee from 1996 to 2004. Her gifts to Duke have resulted in the creation of the French Family Science Center, the University Scholars Program and, with The Duke Endowment, the DukeEngage program.  

Gates earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Duke in 1986 and an MBA from Duke's Fuqua School of Business in 1987.

Gross is a founder, managing director and co-CIO of Pacific Investment Management Co. (PIMCO), one of the world's largest investment firms with more than $1.5 trillion in assets under management.  Gross is also the manager of the world's largest mutual fund, the PIMCO Total Return Fund.  

He is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and print publications and has written two books on investing.  For more than 20 years, he has written the widely followed monthly column Investment Outlook. 

Gross and his wife, Sue, have made significant charitable gifts to local causes and global health projects.

He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Duke in 1966 and an MBA in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1971.  

Jamison was artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 21 years and was named artistic director emerita in 2011.  She created many noted works for the company, which was founded in 1958 to bring African-American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition to the world.

Jamison, a former principal dancer for Ailey who became artistic director when founder Alvin Ailey died in 1989, led the company on two historic engagements in South Africa and a 50-city global tour to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary.  

She has earned a number of awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors and a National Medal of Arts, and was honored by Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series event. She remains active in promoting the arts and the Ailey legacy.