Dartmouth Awards Honorary Degrees

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Nine distinguished innovators, leaders, and public servants are recognized at Commencement.

Honorands Collage
The honorary degree recipients at the 2024 Commencement were, clockwise from top left, Paul Nakasone, Joy Buolamwini, Mung Chiang, Mira Murati, Thayer ’12, John Urschel, Liz Cheney, Commencement speaker Roger Federer, Roy Vagelos, and Richard Ranger ’74. (Photos by Herb Swanson)

Dr. Joy Buolamwini

DR. JOY BUOLAMWINI — as a barrier-breaking computer scientist, artist, and founder, you have become “the conscience of the AI revolution.”  

As a graduate student at MIT, you noticed that the AI-powered platforms you were working on — platforms meant to democratize access and treat everyone equally — were not as accurate on your own face as they were on those of your lighter-skinned classmates. You began a deep dive into the AI platforms of some of the world’s most powerful tech companies, from Microsoft to Amazon to IBM, and found the same systemic biases. You set out to bring change.

From your groundbreaking paper, “Gender Shades,” which is one of the most-cited AI ethics publications in history; to your founding of the Algorithmic Justice League, an organization using storytelling and communication to show how AI systems perpetuate stereotypes, your work has led to a public reckoning.

Every day, you are bringing social justice to the forefront of the AI revolution. 

For your relentless pursuit of difficult challenges; your extraordinary work to challenge bias; and your efforts to center equity in technology and far beyond, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Representative Liz Cheney

REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY — as a woman in a male-dominated field who blazed her own trail, you have set an example for all young people and Americans to follow.

As Wyoming’s representative in Congress, you served in numerous leadership capacities, including on the House Armed Services Committee, the China Task Force, the Natural Resources Committee, and the House Committee on Rules.

And in a tumultuous moment for our country, you proved to be an independent voice who led with conviction and integrity: the same kind we celebrate here at Dartmouth with our motto, vox clamantis in deserto — ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness.’ At every turn, you have worked to uphold our democracy and serve with integrity. For your commitment to upholding those values and for fearlessly creating your own path, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.


Mung Chiang

MUNG CHIANG — as an engineer, innovator, and in your role as president of Purdue University, you have demonstrated the power that science and technology have to connect us, move humanity forward, and create a more equitable world. 

As a professor at Princeton, you founded the Princeton EDGE Lab — empowering students to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Your work and research led to numerous accolades, including being named the 2014 New Jersey CEO of the Year and receiving the Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation — the highest honor presented to an American researcher under the age of 40. 

You served our nation, as science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State, and initiated the U.S. government’s tech diplomacy programs. Upon your return from Washington, you picked up right where you left off at Purdue: co-founding the Krach Institute of Tech Diplomacy, and inspiring thousands to pursue meaningful, human-centered work across science, engineering, and technology.

For your efforts to innovate and help human beings better connect with one another, and your lifelong demonstration that technology can be a force for good, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Roger Federer

ROGER FEDERER — as a sportsman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and one of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen, you have changed lives and inspired millions.

Between 1998 and 2022, you dominated tennis with a run unlike any we’ve ever seen, ranking No. 1 in men’s singles for a record 237 consecutive weeks and 310 weeks total. You won 103 ATP Tour singles titles and 20 Grand Slam singles championships, including eight Wimbledon titles.

From the earliest days of your career, you’ve also used your voice to bring about meaningful change in the world. The Roger Federer Foundation has invested nearly $100 million in education initiatives and served more than 2.7 million children living in poverty in your home country of Switzerland and in Southern Africa. You have again and again supported communities in their hour of need — including your substantial contributions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to support vulnerable families all over the world. You cannot be stopped, on or off the court.

For your inspiring and tireless work ethic; for achieving excellence in all you do; for being so much more than an athlete, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Mira Murati, Thayer ’12

MIRA MURATI — as a groundbreaking technologist, engineer, and leader on the front lines of artificial intelligence, you have democratized technology and advanced a better, safer world for us all.

At the Thayer School of Engineering, you harnessed the skills that led you to some of the biggest names in technology, including Tesla.

When you joined OpenAI, you recognized its transformative potential — and helped scale the operation from a startup to one of the most important AI companies in the world. As Chief Technology Officer, you’ve spearheaded some of the most exciting projects of our time — including ChatGPT, Dall-E, and Codex — that are shaping the landscapes of machine learning. You have brought together diverse teams, and tackled technical and ethical questions fearlessly.

For your work to push the frontiers of what neural networks can do; for your efforts to make AI systems safer and more aligned with human intentions and values; for the extraordinary example you have set for Dartmouth students and young people across the world, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


General Paul Nakasone

GENERAL PAUL NAKASONE — as a distinguished general in the United States armed forces who has led with bravery, intelligence, and integrity through the most challenging conflicts of our time, you have provided an extraordinary example of service at the highest level.

Your service in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea, and time as a senior intelligence officer honed your understanding of the cybersecurity space. You became recognized as one of the nation’s founding cyberwarriors — with your skill recognized by national leaders on both sides of the aisle, who selected you to serve as commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency, and Central Security Service. 

Now, as announced in May of this year, you will pass along those lessons to the next generation, as the founding director of the Vanderbilt University Institute for National Defense and Global Security.

For your remarkable service at the highest level; for your leadership in a space that is evolving at an unprecedented pace; for your commitment to empowering the next generation — including your son, Joseph (’24) — to lead on the issues of our time; Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.


Richard Ranger ’74

RICHARD RANGER  — as a Dartmouth man who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to service and faith, you have shown our community and friends all over the world what it means to live your values.

After majoring in English and serving as Class President, you began a successful 43-year career as a negotiator, environmental compliance manager, and government relations specialist.

Yet you always stayed deeply involved in our community — as representative to the Alumni Council, head of the Class Officers’ Association, and of course, the Class of 1974 newsletter editor for 40 years. You helped lead and guide construction of the first class-sponsored bunkhouse at Mt. Moosilauke.

But your involvement with Dartmouth only scratches the surface. From civic and church activities, to chairing local boards, to hosting for 10 years a public radio jazz program in Alaska, you have made an indelible impact wherever you go. And through your faith and mission work, you’ve respected the dignity of every human being while serving others in need. 

For your lifelong pursuit of adventure; for your 50 years of deep involvement and commitment to our Dartmouth family; for a life lived in service of others; Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.


John Urschel

JOHN URSCHEL — as a brilliant mathematician, athlete, professor, and leader, you remind us that we all have the potential to excel in whatever our field, or fields, of our choosing.

As an undergraduate football player at Penn State, you excelled, earning All-American honors and a future in the NFL. Yet you were equally brilliant in the classroom. Your academic achievements earned you the William V. Campbell Trophy — also known as the academic Heisman — and set you on a path that would shape your journey long after football.

After the NFL, you returned to pursue doctoral work full-time at MIT. Your thesis work led to the prestigious SIAM DiPrima Prize, and before joining the MIT faculty, you continued your pursuit of knowledge as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. Through it all, you stayed involved with the game you love — serving a three-year term on the College Football Playoff selection committee.

For your achievements on the football field and the field of mathematics; and for your reminder that we should all be well-rounded, curious about the world, and seek excellence in all we do, Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.


Roy Vagelos

ROY VAGELOS — as a business executive, physician, scientist, and philanthropist, you have made an indelible impact that will last for generations to come.

As the son of Greek immigrants who ran a small luncheonette, a scholarship gave you the chance to attend the University of Pennsylvania and follow your dream to become a doctor.

After a decade at the National Institutes of Health, you joined Merck, eventually rising to CEO. You democratized access to life-saving medication — including in the mid-1980s, when Merck discovered the drug capable of combating the parasite causing river blindness in West Africa, and you instructed the company to make it available at no cost, reaching 55 million people and ending the public health crisis. 

Throughout your career and upon your retirement, your philanthropy has made an extraordinary difference across higher education. Your gifts have single-handedly advanced innovative research, promoted STEM education, and given countless students the opportunity of a great education. 

For your lifelong pursuit of knowledge in the sciences and beyond; for your extraordinary generosity so that future generations may move humanity forward; for your constant reminder of the importance of giving back when one achieves success; Dartmouth is proud to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

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