Honorary Degrees - Commencement
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2014 Honorary Degree Recipients
Jamie P. Merisotis
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa)
Jamie P. Merisotis is president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, the nation's largest private foundation committed solely to enrolling and graduating more students from college. Merisotis leads the Foundation's $1.3 billion endowment and oversees all staff and strategic decision making.
Long a champion of the idea that higher education enhances both society and individuals, Merisotis has worked for decades to increase educational opportunity among low-income, minority, and other historically underrepresented populations. At Lumina, Merisotis is continuing that effort by employing a strategic, outcomes-based approach in pursuing the Foundation's mission of expanding college access and success. Under his leadership, Lumina has embraced an ambitious and specific goal: to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials — up from the current level of less than 40 percent.
Before joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis was founding president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Established in Washington, D.C., in 1993, IHEP is an independent, nonpartisan organization regarded as one of the world's premier education research and policy centers.
Merisotis' work has been published extensively. He has written and edited several books and monographs and is a frequent contributor to magazines, journals, and newspapers. He has served as a regular commentator on the award-winning PBS show "Nightly Business Report." His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, National Journal, Times Higher Education Supplement (London), The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, Politico, Roll Call, and many other print and online publications.
He received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Bates College in 2003 and was recognized for his support for community colleges with the 2001 Community College Government Relations Award presented by the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees. Merisotis was a 2005 finalist for the Brock International Prize in Education and in 1998 he was named by Change magazine as one of the emerging young leaders (under the age of 45) in American higher education.
He is a graduate of Bates College, where he majored in political science, and serves on its board of trustees.
R. Gary Sibbald
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa)
R. Gary Sibbald, MD, FRCPC, FRCPC, ABIM DABD, FAPWCA, is a dermatologist and internist with a special interest in wound care and education. He is a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Toronto. As an international wound care key opinion leader, Sibbald is involved in knowledge transfer projects on four continents.
He served as a board member and coordinator of the Canadian Association of Continuing Health Education and is the former chair of the Accreditation Committee for The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. A past chair of the Cambridge Conference on Medical Education, he is also past president of the World Union of Wound Healing Societies.
An internationally known expert in care of persons with skin and wound care needs, he is a founder of the Canadian Association of Wound Care (CAWC) and in recognition of his efforts, the R. Gary Sibbald International Scholarship was established by the CAWC in 2002. He was also the founding secretary of the Toronto Dermatological Society and later served as its president. Sibbald co-created the International Interprofessional Wound Care Course (IIWCC) that is co-taught in Canada, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and the United States. Graduates of the IIWCC are key opinion leaders in their countries.
Among his many awards and honors is the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Medal in honor of Queen Elizabeth II. He is clinical editor of an international interdisciplinary journal, has held many positions in professional organizations, and has written book chapters and hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles. He is co-editor of the fifth edition of "Chronic Wound Care: A Clinical Source Book for Healthcare Professionals."
He earned a BSc and an MEd at the University of Toronto, and an MD from the University of Toronto Medical School. Sibbald is a fellow of the American Professional Would Care Association.
Leonard F. Tantillo
Doctor of Fine Arts (Honoris Causa)
Leonard Tantillo was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Rhode Island School of Design. Early in his career, he worked as an architectural designer and acquired a working knowledge of building design and construction. During his apprenticeship, the focus of his work shifted to visual presentation, and in 1976 he began working as a freelance architectural illustrator. In 1980, Tantillo was commissioned to depict a series of 19th-century structures from archeological artifacts and historic documents. Similar projects followed, many of which featured subjects located along the banks of the Hudson River near Albany, N.Y., and in 1984 Tantillo began the full-time pursuit of fine art. He has spent more than 20 years creating many historical and marine paintings.
A fellow of the American Society of Marine Artists, Tantillo has a studio in southern Rensselaer County in upstate New York. His work has appeared in national exhibitions, books, periodicals, and television documentaries in the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand.
Among his awards and honors is the prestigious Rudolph J. Schaefer Award, presented in 2000 at the 21st Annual Mystic International Exhibition at Mystic Seaport, and an honorary doctorate in 2002 from Russell Sage College.
In 2004, Tantillo's artwork was the subject of a documentary entitled, "Hudson River Journeys," a collaboration between Tantillo and noted folk singer Pete Seeger. Produced by Albany-area public television station WMHT, it has aired on dozens of stations around the United States and continues to be broadcast on a regular basis in New York City and other major markets.
Tantillo was commissioned to create a painting for the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this work is part of a permanent presentation of Dutch architecture in colonial America. His research on the growth of the early lyceum and Chautauqua movements in the 1800s provided the basis for a 40th anniversary commemorative painting, "Keeping a Tradition Alive," for Excelsior in 2011.
Among his notable exhibitions are the "Hollanders and the Hudson" exhibit at the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands, and "A Moment Past: L.F. Tantillo Paints New York's History," appearing at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., through 2014.
Belle S. Wheelan
Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa)
President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Belle S. Wheelan is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president, and Virginia's secretary of education.
She has received many awards and recognitions, including four honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University (2002), and from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (1992); Washingtonian magazine's100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C. (2001); the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award (2002); the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development's Distinguished Lecturer Award (2007); the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development's International Leadership Award (2010); and the AACC Leadership Award (2011).
She has been a member of many local, state, and national organizations, including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; the American College Testing Inc., Board of Directors; American Association of Community Colleges, Board of Directors; the Lumina Foundation for Education, Board of Directors; the President's Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs; the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, Board of Directors; Excelencia in Education, Board of Directors; National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Community College Honorary Board; Next Generation Learning Challenges, Advisory Panel; Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning Through Self-Study); and the National Student Clearinghouse, Board of Directors.
Wheelan earned a bachelor's degree from Trinity University in Texas with a double major in psychology and sociology; a master's degree in developmental educational psychology from Louisiana State University; and a doctorate in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.