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Opera singer, economist to receive KU honorary degrees

Wed, 10/16/2013

LAWRENCE – An acclaimed opera singer and a Nobel Prize-winning economist will receive honorary degrees from the University of Kansas at its 2014 Commencement.

Joyce DiDonatoChancellor Bernadette Gray-Little recommended to the Kansas Board of Regents that mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and economist Vernon Smith be awarded honorary doctorates. The board approved that recommendation during its meeting today. The degrees will be presented May 18, 2014, in Memorial Stadium.

“Both of our honorees have contributed to our society, whether by taking us on emotional journeys through song or by advancing our understanding of economic decision making. They are role models for our students, and exemplify the mission of our university and its dedication to serving Kansans and the world,” said Gray-Little.

“The pool of nominees for honorary degrees contained many exceptional individuals. These individuals impressed the committee with their unique achievements and sustained contributions to their fields of endeavor. Both of this year’s honorees represent the high standards of the university, and each will inspire KU students to excel,” said Susan Kemper, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Psychology and chair of the Chancellor's Committee on Honorary Degrees.

2014 University of Kansas honorary degree recipients:Vernon Smith

  • For the degree of Doctor of Arts: Joyce DiDonato for notable contributions to opera
  • For the degree of Doctor of Science: Vernon Smith for notable contributions to experimental economics

For biographies of the honorees, click here.

Nominations were sought from members of the KU community and beyond. These nominations were reviewed by a committee which consisted of Kemper; Professor John Gronbeck-Tedesco, theatre; Professor Steve Hawley, physics and astronomy; Professor Chet Johnson, pediatrics; Annaria Nardone, student representative; retired Kansas Supreme Court Justice Fred Six, alumni representative; and Professor Lisa Stehno-Bittel, physical therapy and rehabilitation sciences.

KU awards honorary degrees based on nominees’ outstanding scholarship, research, creative activity, service to humanity or other achievements consistent with the academic endeavors of the university. Recipients do not need to be KU alumni, and philanthropic contributions to the university are not considered during the process.



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUfacts : KU research helps explain the debut of insect life on Earth. http://t.co/TJO1X97nFM #KUdiscoveries #evolution #biodiversity
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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