Clark Atlanta University to Award Four Honorary Degrees to Iconic Trailblazers

Retired NASA Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson

ATLANTA (May 17, 2017) Clark Atlanta University will bestow four doctoral degrees honoris causa during the 2017 Commencement Convocation Monday, May 22, 8 a.m. at Panther Stadium, 735 Beckwith St. SW. “These four pioneers were selected carefully from the areas of civil and human rights, politics and STEM,” says Ronald A. Johnson, President of Clark Atlanta University. “Their rich legacy is to be honored and celebrated.”

Doctor of Human Letters Honoris CausaWilliam Pickard, Ph.D.: Pickard began his entrepreneurial career as a McDonald’s franchisee more than 45 years ago. He is the chairman and CEO of VITEC and Global Automotive Alliance. In 1982 Pres. Ronald Reagan nominated, and Senate confirmed, Pickard as the first chairman of the African Development Foundation (ADF).

Doctor of Laws Honoris CausaU.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Congressman Conyers represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district. Conyers is the longest serving member of the United States Congress, since 1965. He is the first African-American to hold the distinction as Dean. With more than 50 years of public service, Conyers has been the proponent of dozens of legislative bills including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Conyers was the first to introduce the original Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983.

Doctor of Science Honoris Causa (in absentia)Retired NASA Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson: Johnson made significant contributions to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program. During segregation Johnson defeated an oppressive work environment while calculating the trajectories, launch windows and return patterns for NASA’s space shuttle programs. Her career was one of the inspirations behind the box office film “Hidden Figures.” “I loved learning at all times” says Johnson. “You’ll do better in life if you want to learn, want to teach, want to help others.”

Doctor of Laws Degree Honoris CausaRev. Jesse Jackson Sr.: Rev. Jackson has made significant contributions to the Civil Rights movement and to America’s political and religious landscapes. In the 1980s Rev. Jackson fought twice for the Democratic presidential nomination. For his contributions to society, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 from President Bill Clinton. Rev. Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson champions an array of causes including civil rights, economic justice and peace.

For more information on the 2017 Clark Atlanta University Commencement schedule visit www.CAU.edu.

Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.