April 13, 2017
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will
award honorary degrees to four prestigious leaders in science, theology and
the arts at the All-University Commencement Ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 20,
in Moody Coliseum. Francis S. Collins, Francis Halzen, Nancy Nasher and E.P.
Sanders each will be celebrated in the days leading to the ceremony with
symposia and speaking engagements, summarized below:
Francis S. Collins
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has been director of the National Institutes of
Health since 2009, overseeing the work of the largest institutional supporter of
biomedical research in the world. But he may be best known for leading the Human
Genome Project, a 13-year international effort to map and sequence the 3 billion
letters in human DNA.
As NIH director, he has helped launch major research initiatives to advance the
use of precision medicine for more tailored healthcare, to increase our
understanding of the neural networks of the brain to improve treatments for
brain diseases, and to identify areas of cancer research that are most ripe for
acceleration to improve cancer prevention and treatment. His personal research
efforts led to the isolation of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis,
neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria
As an innovative evolutionary geneticist and a devout Christian, Collins also
has gained fame for his writings on the integration of logic and belief.
Collins received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from Yale University,
and his M.D. degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As an
elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of
Sciences, Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November
2007 from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Science in 2009.
For his dramatic successes as a gene hunter, his support for biomedical research
on a vast scale, and his leadership of one of the most significant scientific
undertaking in modern history – the Human Genome Project – Collins will receive
the Doctor of Science degree, honoris causa, from SMU.
Collins also will deliver the commencement address.
A symposium focused on Collins’ life and work is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday,
May 19, in Crum Auditorium in the Collins Executive Education Center.
Collins will join these panel members in discussing:
- Emerging advances in biomedical research, with Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky,
president, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Pia Vogel, professor of biological sciences, SMU
- Innovation and translational science, with Steven C. Currall, provost
and vice president for academic affairs, SMU
contributions to the study of particle astrophysics might be compared to the
influence of astronomer Galileo Galilei’s 17th-century perfection of the
telescope: Both enabled unprecedented closer observation of the Universe.
Halzen’s vision, initiative and leadership have led to the development and
construction of the IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory, where he is
principle investigator, and where the first ultra-high-energy neutrinos were
detected in 2013.
Halzen’s work in particle physics
detection has taken the study of neutrinos beyond the Milky Way galaxy and into
deep space, leading to new understanding of astronomical phenomena including
black holes, supernovas and galaxy formation.
Halzen is the Hilldale and Gregory
Breit Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the
director of the Institute for Particle Physics Research. He received the 2015
Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi Prize from the European Physical Society, the 2015
Balzan Prize and the 2014 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award. Halzen received
Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, as well as an agrégé de l'enseignement supérieur (a
qualification for teaching in higher education) from the University of Louvain
For his pioneering efforts toward
construction of the IceCube observatory and his extraordinary role in opening a
new observational window on the universe, Southern Methodist University is
honored to confer the degree Doctor of Science, honoris causa.
will give a public lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 18, in Dallas Hall’s
McCord Auditorium. A reception will precede the lecture at 5 p.m. in the
rotunda of Dallas Hall. Organizers are offering a special welcome to students
from Adamson High School’s “Living Physicist Program” and area high school
teachers and students who participate in the QuarkNet program.
Nancy A. Nasher
Nasher, a business leader, lawyer and philanthropist, has dedicated her
professional and personal life to the betterment of Dallas. She holds degrees
from Princeton University and Duke University School of Law. As president and
co-owner of NorthPark Center, a premier shopping destination noted for
excellence in retail and architectural design, Ms. Nasher has seamlessly
integrated art into public spaces. Her vision of public engagement with the arts
as embodied in NorthPark Center, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and her
contributions to local arts organizations has been transformative for Dallas,
and continues through her deep support and advocacy for all facets of the Dallas
arts community. She serves on the executive boards of The Dallas Opera, the
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Nasher Sculpture Center, and is the founder’s
chair of the Business Council for the Arts.
board leadership positions include the Dallas Museum of Art, the AT&T Performing
Arts Center, the Meadows School of the Arts, the National Center for Arts
Research, the Dallas Mayor’s Business/Arts Initiative, the University of North
Texas School of Visual Arts, the Princeton University Art Museum Board of
Advisors, the Duke University Board of Trustees, and Ms. Nasher is the Chair of
the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Board of Visitors.
Her numerous honors include the
2017 TACA Silver Cup Award for her dedication to arts support. In 2015, Socrates
Sculpture Park in New York honored Ms. Nasher for advancing the practice of
sculpture. For her dedication to public engagement with the arts, Southern
Methodist University is honored to confer the degree Doctor of Arts, honoris
“A Conversation with Nancy
Nasher,” is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, in Taubman
Atrium of the Owen Arts Center.
E. P. Sanders, a 1962 alumnus of
SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, is an internationally respected New Testament
scholar responsible for major contributions to studies of Jesus and the Apostle
Paul and their relationships to the Judaism of their day. He is credited
with prompting the re-evaluation of prejudicial views of Judaism that often
characterized earlier biblical scholarship, resulting in improved
Sanders is the author of 14 books
and numerous monographs that have been translated into 11 languages. His
monograph, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977), received a National
Religious Book Award, and his Jesus and Judaism (1985) won the
prestigious Grawemeyer Award. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas
Wesleyan University, a Bachelor of Divinity from SMU Perkins School of Theology,
and a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.
Sanders held an endowed chair in
religion at Duke University until he retired in 2005. He also held
faculty positions at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and at the
University of Oxford. He is a fellow of the British Academy and the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. Sanders has received honorary doctorates from the
University of Oxford and the University of Helsinki.
For his contributions to biblical
scholarship, the understanding of Jewish and Christian origins, and
Jewish-Christian relations, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer
the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
will be honored with a symposium focused on his work from 10-11:30 a.m. Friday,
May 19, in SMU Perkins Chapel. Moderator for “Comparing Early Judaism
and Early Christianity: The Scholarship of E. P. Sanders,” will be Mark Chancey,
professor of religious studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
Panelists will include:
Craig C. Hill, dean and professor of New Testament, Perkins School of
David P. Moessner, Bradford Chair of Religion, Department of Religion,
Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Distinguished Professor of New Testament
Interpretation, Department of Religion, Baylor University and Helen H.P. Manson
Professor of New Testament literature and Exegesis Emerita, Princeton
Sze-kar Wan, Professor of New Testament, Perkins School of Theology,
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