Smithsonian Head to Speak at 2016 Commencement

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PHOTO BY JASON BOIT/OBSERVER ARCHIVES

Skorton was previously president of Cornell University before being named head of the Smithsonian. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE)
Skorton was previously president of Cornell University before being named head of the Smithsonian. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE)

By CONNOR MANNION
Editor Emeritus

On April 28, Fordham University named David Skorton, M.D., the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as the University Commencement speaker for the Class of 2016. As Secretary, Skorton oversees 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoo and numerous research centers, including the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Dr. Skorton earned both his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his medical degree from Northwestern University before completing his residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1979. He then joined the faculty of the University of Iowa, where he held professorships in internal medicine, biomedical engineering and other fields before serving as the university’s president from 2003 to 2006. In 2006, he was named President of Cornell University, a position he held until the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institute named him Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute in July 2015.

Dr. Skorton has also served as a professor in Cornell’s department of biomedical engineering and in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr. Skorton will be awarded an honorary doctorate during the commencement ceremonies, as will eight other people who have distinguished themselves in business, law, the arts or public service, according to Fordham News.

Honorary doctorates of humane letters will be awarded to Dr. Skorton and to Judith Altmann, vice president of the Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut, Gregory Boyle, SJ, head of the gang-intervention group Homeboy Industries, Maurice “Mo” Cunniffe, FCRH ’54, Patricia David, GABELLI ’81, global head of diversity for JPMorgan Chase, and Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

Honorary doctorates of fine arts will be awarded to Robert Battle, artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and to Henry Cobb, founding partner at the architecture firm Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners and co-designer of Fordham Law School’s new building.

Fordham University’s 171st Commencement will take place on Saturday, May 21, at the Rose Hill campus.

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