c/o Wesleyan

c/o Wesleyan

President Michael Roth ’78 announced the honorary degree recipients for the 190th Commencement: Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Joseph J. Fins ’82, Rita Moreno, and Gloria Steinem. The 190th Commencement will take place on Sunday, May 22.

Hrabowski, who will deliver the commencement address, is an educator, advocate, and mathematician who served as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) since May 1992. Under his leadership, UMBC was ranked as the top “Up and Coming University in America” from 2009 to 2014. His research primarily focuses on increasing representation in science and math education. In addition, Time magazine named Hrabowski one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012.

[Hrabowski] has done more to bring students from underrepresented groups into the sciences, I think, than anyone ever, certainly anyone in America today,” Roth said.

Fins received his B.A. in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University and later received an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1986. Fins is currently Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. With a career focused on palliative care—the study of complex illnesses—Fins has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academies, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honored Academic of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Spain.

“[Fins is] just a wonderful Wesleyan citizen and a great figure in the field of bioethics,” Roth said.

Moreno is a Puerto Rican-born actress, singer, and dancer, who has appeared in multiple film, television, and theater projects over nearly eight decades. Throughout her career, Moreno is one of only 16 recipients of an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). She earned these respective honors through her appearance on “The Muppet Show,” her performance on the children’s album The Electric Company, her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), and her stage performance in the comedic farce “The Ritz.”

“[Moreno] is as compelling a figure as you would expect from her amazing, extraordinary performances as an actor and as an activist and as a person who has fought for civil rights and fought for diversity at so many levels over so many years,” Roth said.

Steinem is a feminist, journalist, and political activist, most commonly known for her work in the American feminist movement during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her 1969 New York Magazine article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation” gained national attention and garnered recognition for Steinem as one of the leading faces of feminism. Two years later, she founded the Women’s Action Alliance, which worked to advance feminist causes and legislation for over 25 years. 

“[Steinem is] someone who I’ve known about since I was a little kid, and admired her activism and her intelligence and her just powerfully positive impact on American society,” Roth said.

In all, Roth maintains that all of the honorary degree recipients are leaders in their respective fields.

“All four of these individuals are remarkable change-makers in their respective fields of academics, health, arts, and activism who continue to break barriers as they fight for representation and access for underrepresented communities,” Roth wrote in an all-campus email.


Cameron Ryan can be reached at ccryan@wesleyan.edu.