By Cate Carrejo
Fordham announced Thursday that David Skorton, M.D., the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., will address the graduates of the Class of 2016 at the university’s 171st commencement ceremony in May. Skorton previously served as the president of both the University of Iowa from 2003 to 2006 and Cornell University from 2006 to 2015, when he was named Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
Skorton’s multifaceted career has run the gambit from medicine to education to now public service. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Feinberg School of Medicine, Skorton originally trained as a physician at the University of California, Los Angeles for both his residency and fellowship. Skorton then transitioned into education, serving as a professor of internal medicine and biomedical engineering. In June of last year, Skorton became the first physician to fill the role of Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, where he manages the museum system’s $1.3 billion budget, 6,500 employees and 6,300 volunteers.
Skorton will be awarded an honorary doctorate at the university’s main commencement ceremony, along with seven others announced by the university on Thursday. Judith Altmann, vice president of the Holocaust Child Survivors of Connecticut; Gregory Boyle, SJ, head of the gang-intervention group Homeboy Industries; Maurice “Mo” Cunniffe, FCRH ’54, a successful businessman and key supporter of Fordham; Patricia David, GABELLI ’81, global head of diversity for JPMorgan Chase; and Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, will each receive a doctorate of humane letters for their distinguished service in their respective fields. Loretta A. Preska, LAW ’73, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, will be awarded an honorary doctorate of laws, and Robert Battle, artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts.
Henry Cobb, founding partner at the architecture firm Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners and co-designer of Fordham Law School’s new building, will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts at the law school’s diploma ceremony, to be held Monday, May 23, at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan.
Skorton will deliver his address to the Class of 2016 and their guests at the commencement ceremony on May 21st.