Symposia set for honorary degree recipients

Groundbreaking inventor James Robert (Bob) Biard and internationally respected educator Francis Christopher Oakley, who are receiving honorary degrees from SMU, will be featured at symposia in their honor on Friday, May 17.

Groundbreaking inventor James Robert (Bob) Biard and internationally respected educator Francis Christopher Oakley, who are receiving honorary degrees from SMU, will be featured at symposia in their honor on Friday, May 17.

The events, which will beheld at SMU, are free and open to the public.

James R. BiardBiard will be featured in an 11 a.m. symposium in his honor Friday, May 17, in the Huit-Zollars Seminar Room in the Embrey Engineering Building. The public seminar will describe the events leading up to the invention of the first Light Emitting Diode (LED) by Biard and Gary Pittman at Texas Instruments in 1962. Pittman received a B.S. in Chemistry with honors from SMU in 1953. Also included is a discussion of continuing developments in semiconductor light emitting devices leading to the Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL).

Francis Christopher OakleyOakley will participate in a symposium in his honor at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in the Texana Room of the DeGolyer Library. The symposium is open to the public and Oakley will respond to remarks made by Charles Curran, SMU’s Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values; Texas A&M Professor Cary Nederman, an expert in medieval political thought; Bruce Basington, Regents Professor at West Texas A&M; and Willard Spiegelman, SMU’s Dwaine E. Hughes, Jr., Distinguished Professor of English, who was one of Oakley’s undergraduate students. A reception will follow at the home of Jeremy Adams, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the William P. Clements Department of History.

The honorary degrees will be presented during Commencement Convocation on Saturday.

Biard will receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, for his outstanding contributions in the field of optoelectronics. Biard received the world’s first patent for the light emitting diode (LED), now ubiquitous in devices ranging from digital clocks and remote controls to television screens and traffic lights. He holds more than 75 patents for his inventions. Biard is an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at Texas A&M.

Oakley will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his distinguished contributions to higher education as a scholar and administrator. Oakley is the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas and president emeritus of Williams College, where he led establishment of the tutorial form of instruction. He has written 13 books and served as president of the American Council of Learned Societies.

More about Commencement Convocation.

# # #