Congratulations to the Honorary Degree Recipients of 2024!

We are thrilled to announce the distinguished honorees for the 2024 Commencement Convocation, whose remarkable achievements and contributions span diverse fields of endeavor. From groundbreaking advancements in civil rights to transformative innovations in space exploration, global diplomacy and hospitality, these individuals exemplify excellence and inspire us with their dedication to excellence and innovation. 

Join us in celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of our honorees as we recognize their outstanding contributions to society and their respective fields. We invite you to explore their stories further and join us in honoring their remarkable achievements during this year's Commencement Convocation. 

Thasunda Brown Duckett

Photo of Thasunda-Duckett wearing glasses and a white blazer with gold buttons.

Thasunda Brown Duckett is president and chief executive officer of TIAA, a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions for millions of people and thousands of institutions.

She leads a company whose mission is defined by financial inclusion and opportunity – goals and values she has upheld throughout her career. Under her leadership, TIAA is expanding its mission beyond higher education to all Americans saving for retirement.

Before joining TIAA in 2021, she held several key executive roles during a 17-year career at JP Morgan Chase, including CEO of the Consumer Bank and Auto Finance. Earlier in her career, she was a director of emerging markets at Fannie Mae.

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Epsy Campbell Barr, Ph.D.

Photo of Epsy Campbel Barr wearing a white blazer, gold necklace and glasses.

Epsy Campbell Barr, Ph.D. is president of the Permanent Forum on Afro-descendant people of the United Nations, President of the High-Level Commission on Mental Health and COVID-19 of PAHO, Member of the Jury of the Human Fraternity Award, Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica (2018-2022), the first Afro-descendant woman to occupy this high position in the Americas, Afro-Costa Rican leader, two-time Congresswoman and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship.

She is the main proponent of the Global Coalition Against Systemic Racism and for Reparations.

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Victor J. Glover, Jr.

Photo of Victor Glover, Jr. wearing his blue Nasa uniform that with the NASA Logo and American Flag patches.

Victor J. Glover, Jr. was selected as an astronaut in 2013 while serving as a legislative fellow in the United States Senate. He most recently served as pilot of the Crew-1 dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, which flew to the International Space Station, where he also served as flight engineer for Expedition 64/65. Glover has been assigned as pilot of NASA’s Artemis II mission around the moon.

The California native earned an undergraduate engineering degree as a two sport athlete, while serving his community. Glover is a naval aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA‐18G Growler. He and his family have been stationed in many locations in the United States and Japan and he has deployed in combat and peacetime.

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Fred D. Gray

Fred D. Gray, Esquire wearing a navy blue blazer, white dress shirt, glasses and a red, white and blue tie.

Fred D. Gray is the senior managing partner of the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray, Gray & Nathanson, P.C., with offices in both Montgomery and Tuskegee, Alabama. He is a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, a native of Montgomery, Alabama and resides in Tuskegee with his lovely wife Carol. At the age of 93 he continues to practice law since 1954, specializing in civil rights and other civil litigation.

He has been a cooperating attorney with the NAACP and Legal Defense Fund Inc. since 1956. He represented many civil rights icons and organizations including the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, Congressman John Lewis, the Freedom Riders and Walkers, Selma to Montgomery Marchers, NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and others. 

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J.W. Marriott, Jr.

Photo of J. Willard Marriott wearing a black blazer, red and blue tie and a white button down dress shirt.

J.W. Marriott, Jr. is chairman emeritus of Marriott International, Inc. Mr. Marriott was executive chairman and chairman of the board before retiring in May of 2022. Mr. Marriott’s leadership spanned 66 years, as he guided what was once a family-run root beer stand and restaurant chain to a global hospitality company that is today comprised of more than 8,800 properties across over 30 leading brands in 139 countries and territories. Mr. Marriott served 40 years as Marriott’s chief executive officer before stepping down on March 31, 2012.

Mr. Marriott’s passion for the hospitality industry began at an early age. He spent his high school and college years working in a variety of positions in the family’s Hot Shoppes restaurant chain. He became a full-time associate in 1956, and soon afterward began overseeing the first Marriott hotel. He became president of the company in 1964 and chief executive officer in 1972. He was elected chairman of the board in 1985.

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