Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell will lead an esteemed group of global leaders and innovators receiving honorary degrees this year at Northeastern University’s commencement exercises.
Powell will deliver the 110th commencement address to 20,000 undergraduates, family members, friends and university leaders on May 4, 2012, at TD Garden in Boston. Powell will receive an honorary degree as part of the ceremony.
Also receiving honorary degrees this year are: Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; David S. Ferriero, LA’72, MA’76, the 10th Archivist of the United States; Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, ME’77, head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight in Indonesia; Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Sy Sternberg, ME’68, chair of Northeastern University’s Board of Trustees.
“This year’s honorary degree recipients reflect the character of Northeastern, a university committed to public service, entrepreneurship, academic discovery and leadership on the global stage,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “We welcome their collective wisdom and we are proud to call them members of the Northeastern family.”
Ferriero will address graduate students and receive his honorary degree at the afternoon ceremony in Matthews Arena. Berrien will deliver the School of Law’s commencement ceremony and will receive her honorary degree on May 25.
Colin Powell – Doctor of Public Service
For more than 50 years, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) has devoted his life to public service, holding senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations. His deep commitment to democratic values and freedom has been felt throughout the world.
As Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Powell led major efforts to solve regional and civil conflicts across the globe. In each case, he used the power of diplomacy to transform unstable regions into areas where societies and cultures have the potential to prosper.
Powell served under President George H. W. Bush and President William J. Clinton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — the youngest officer, first ROTC graduate and first African American to hold the position. In that role, he oversaw U.S. military operations during numerous international crises, most notably Operation Desert Storm in the victorious 1991 Persian Gulf War and during the 1989 Panama intervention. Previously, Powell was President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor.
Currently, he is a strategic limited partner at renowned Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and is on the board of Bloom Energy. He also serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. He graduated from the City College of New York (CCNY) with a BS in geology.
At CCNY, he joined the Army ROTC program, discovering his calling and launching his military career. Commissioned as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation, he served for 35 years, rising to the rank of four-star general. Powell has won numerous military awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
He founded the Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service at CCNY, dedicated to developing a new generation of publicly engaged leaders.
Jacqueline A. Berrien – Doctor of Laws
For Jacqueline Berrien, leading the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the latest chapter in a career that President Barack Obama characterized as “fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.”
The president nominated Ms. Berrien in July 2009 as chair of the EEOC, the agency charged with ending unlawful discrimination in the nation’s workplaces.
Ms. Berrien’s determination to keep faith with the civil-rights activists of the 1950s and 1960s — and their goal of moving the nation forward — has informed her work as a lawyer and leader.
Under her leadership, the EEOC has reduced its caseload of unresolved discrimination charges for the first time in a decade—recovering millions of dollars in relief for victims of unlawful employment discrimination—adopted regulations to implement key antidiscrimination legislation, and launched a Small Business Task Force, among other achievements.
She also has served as associate director-counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as a program officer with the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program, and, for 15 years, as a practicing civil-rights lawyer.
Ms. Berrien is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as a general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.
David S. Ferriero – Doctor of Humane Letters
As the 10th Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero oversees the repository of the nation’s heritage, ranging from the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution to slave-ship manifests and Indian treaties, as well as the contents of 13 presidential libraries.
Ferriero, BA’72, MA’76, has built a distinguished career as a library director when President Barack Obama appointed him to his current post in 2009. He is the first librarian to serve as national archivist and has brought the same philosophy of maximizing public access to both positions.
Previously, Ferriero served for five years as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries. He led the integration of the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world.
Among his notable achievements was the development of the library’s digital strategy, which currently encompasses partnerships with Google and Microsoft; a website that reaches more than 25 million unique users annually; and a digital library of more than 750,000 images that may be accessed free of charge by any user around the world.
Before joining the New York Public Libraries in 2004, Ferriero served in leadership positions at two of the nation’s major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University. He also served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War.
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto – Doctor of Engineering
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a minister and trusted senior advisor to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, holds multiple posts in the Indonesian government that are considered vital to the nation’s development and sustainability goals.
As head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight, Kuntoro, ME’77, identifies obstacles to development programs and leads the effort to resolve them. He also chairs the presidential task force assigned to addressing issues of deforestation and environmental degradation.
Kuntoro brings a wealth of experience and education to those challenging positions. From 2005 to 2009, he led a complex reconstruction effort in Aceh-Nias, the region of Indonesia that was devastated by tsunamis, resulting in an estimated 200,000 deaths. He oversaw a recovery that cost nearly $8 billion, while setting a standard for post-disaster management that few international observers thought possible.
As a professor at Bandung Institute of Technology’s School of Business and Management — a school he cofounded in 2003 — Kuntoro focuses on decision-making and strategic negotiation.
He held significant leadership roles in the Indonesian energy and natural resources sectors from 1989 to 2001, serving as Minister of Mining and Energy and CEO of three companies: PLN, the state electricity company; PTBA, the state coal-mining company; and Timah, the state tin-mining company. His successful restructuring of Timah made it Indonesia’s first state-owned enterprise to be publicly listed in the stock exchange.
Judith Rodin – Doctor of Humane Letters
As president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Judith Rodin has reshaped one of the world’s leading philanthropic organizations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Today, under Rodin’s inspired leadership, the foundation advances innovations to strengthen resilience to risks and ensure more equitable growth around the world.
Rodin has been a pioneer and innovator throughout her career. Joining the Rockefeller Foundation in 2005, she was its first woman president. As president of the University of Pennsylvania, she was the first woman to lead an Ivy League university. And in the field of research psychology, she was a forerunner in the behavioral medicine and health psychology movements.
A widely recognized international leader in academia, science and development issues, Rodin has participated in influential global forums, including the World Economic Forum, the Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations General Assembly.
Sy Sternberg – Doctor of Commerce
With a talent for incisive analysis and dynamic decision-making and a passion for education, Sy Sternberg, ME’68, has made significant and lasting contributions as both a business and university leader.
During the 11 years he served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer at New York Life, the company became one of only three life insurers to earn top ratings for financial strength from the four major rating agencies.
His leadership has been equally impressive at Northeastern.
As chair of Northeastern University’s Board of Trustees since 2008, he has partnered with President Joseph Aoun on every major initiative related to the university’s transformation: expanding experiential learning globally, focusing the research enterprise on areas of strength and recruiting outstanding interdisciplinary scholars.
To advance this goal, Sternberg and his wife Laurie established the Sternberg Family Distinguished University Endowed Chair and the Sy and Laurie Sternberg Interdisciplinary Endowed Professorship.
He also led the board — in collaboration with the university’s senior leadership — in two major initiatives: the university’s Long Range Plan and its regional-campus expansion, which creates a new model for higher education that, in President Aoun’s words, “goes beyond the traditional boundaries of place.”