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Six to receive honorary degrees at UI Commencement

Jeff Unger, News Bureau
(217) 333-1085;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Six people have been selected to receive honorary degrees at spring Commencement, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its meeting Jan. 18 in Chicago.

The 130th Commencement takes place May 13 at the Assembly Hall, 1800 S. First St., Champaign.

The recipients:

dot Robben Fleming will receive a doctor of university administration degree. Fleming served as the director of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1952-58 as well as a professor of law at the UI from 1957-64. Fleming later served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1964-68 and then as president of the University of Michigan from 1968-79. His most visible role began in 1979 when he left Michigan to become the president of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. He has also served as President of the American Association of University Presidents, Chairman of the Board of the American Council on Education, and Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Fund for the Advancement of Teaching.

dot Lukas Foss, a professor of music theory and composition at Boston University, will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. A distinguished composer, conductor, pianist and pedagogue, he has been a major influence on musical life in America for more than 50 years. He attended the Curtis Institute after auditioning for conductor Fritz Reiner, graduating with honors and diplomas in composition, conducting, and piano at the age of 17. By age 20, he had won a Pulitzer Scholarship; at 22, was honored with the New York CriticsÕ Circle Award; and at 23, was the youngest composer ever to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. Foss has composed in virtually every area of music and has been commissioned by major musical organizations worldwide. He has appeared as a solo pianist with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

dot Ekaterina Genieva, the director general of the Library for Foreign Literature in Moscow and a Mortenson Distinguished Lecturer at the UI, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Genieva emerged as director of the most active library in Russia, and as a leader of cultural reform in the country. She is president of the Soros Foundation in Russia. Under her leadership it has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support science, education, the arts and culture, and civil society initiatives. She has served as first vice president of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Genieva has been instrumental in opening access to research resources for students and scholars from the UI and other institutions throughout the United States and the world. She has a strong UI connection through her collaboration with professor Marianna Tax Choldin, the director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs.

dot Vartan Gregorian, the president of the Carnegie Corp., will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. A former president of Brown University, Gregorian was for eight years the president and chief executive of the New York Public Library. His leadership of the library was seen as visionary and his fund-raising brought the library to a significant new stage of operations. He has held numerous academic appointments, teaching fellowships, and professional affiliations. His background is in Armenian history and culture. Gregorian is the recipient of an Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal (1999) and his international decorations include the Grand Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique (Portugal, 1995), the Officier de lÕOrdre des Arts et Lettres (France, 1986), and the Cavaliere Ufficiale dellÕOrdine Al Meriot della Repubbica (Italy, 1986), among others. Gregorian is a member of the editorial boards of a number of prestigious publishing houses and journals.

dot Judith Heumann, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education, will receive an honorary doctor of public administration degree. Heumann helped found several important disability organizations, including the World Institute on Disability and the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, and has worked to develop international linkages in disability research and advocacy. She pioneered modern legislation recognizing that the U.S. Constitution guarantees equality of access and opportunity to persons with disabilities. As legislative assistant to the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare in 1974, she helped develop legislation that became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. President Clinton appointed her to the U.S. delegation to the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing.

dot Orion Samuelson, agricultural services director of WGN radio and television in Chicago, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree. Samuelson was referred to as a "farm broadcasting institution" in 1996 when he was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. He has distinguished himself as the premier agricultural broadcaster in the nation and in the food agriculture system, and has served as an effective communicator on behalf of agriculture to the non-farm audience. Samuelson has been invited to participate in official government missions on both the state and federal level. He has served as the director of the Chicago Board of Trade, a Trustee of the Farm Foundation and as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. Often referred to as the "Voice of Agriculture," Samuelson started his broadcast career in Sparta, Wis., in 1952 and moved to Chicago in 1960 to become agricultural services director for WGN. In 1975, Mr. Samuelson was elected a vice president of WGN.