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Johns Hopkins Announces 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients

April 25, 2016
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906
Cell: 443-547-8805

An award-winning novelist, a Nobel Prize winner and Maryland’s first woman to become an administrative Circuit Court judge are among eight distinguished achievers who will receive Johns Hopkins University honorary degrees this year.

The honorary degrees will be conferred at commencement on May 18 at Royal Farms Arena. Recipients include:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The author of acclaimed novels including Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2014, Adichie writes stories inspired by her own life – she grew up in Nigeria and moved to the United States for college. She earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins’ Writing Seminars in 2003 and won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2008.

Susan Baker: Founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, Baker is the author of the Injury Fact Book and is known for developing the Injury Severity Score, a system used to assess patients with multiple injuries. She has tirelessly lobbied for life-saving tools, now common, such as airbags and child-safety caps.

Ellen M. Heller: The first woman appointed to be Maryland’s Administrative Circuit Court judge, Heller introduced court-ordered mediation for some civil cases, allowing them to be resolved faster and more affordably than through a trial. She is also chairwoman of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. She graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins in 1972.

Shelton Jackson (Spike) Lee: The filmmaker whose acclaimed works include Do The Right Thing and Jungle Fever is also a writer, director, actor, producer, author, educator, and entrepreneur. The founder of 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Lee’s work is known for challenging assumptions about race and prejudice. He is also this year’s commencement speaker at Johns Hopkins.

Shale Stiller: A skilled trial attorney and a partner at DLA Piper, Stiller has helped draft Maryland’s statutory laws on estates and trusts. He has also advised several Johns Hopkins presidents. He earned a master of liberal arts degree at Johns Hopkins in 1977.

Laurie Zabin: The founding director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Zabin has led efforts in developing nations. A former Planned Parenthood director, Zabin, who has a PhD from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, is also an expert on teen pregnancy and reproductive rights.

Richard Axel: Axel was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004 for work on how the brain deciphers the world of smell – research he did with his colleague Linda Buck. He continues to study the olfactory system as a professor of neuroscience, pathology, and biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia, and as an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Judith Rodin: Rodin is the president of The Rockefeller Foundation, an organization with a mission of promoting “the well-being of humanity throughout the world.” A former psychology professor, she served as provost of Yale and as the first woman president in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania, her alma mater.

“The men and women in this group are visionaries whose ideas are helping to change the world,” said Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels. “At Johns Hopkins, where we celebrate bold thinkers and courageous innovators, these leaders who have achieved so much in their individual fields are an inspiration to us all.”

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