SMU to award honorary degree at May Commencement

Groesbeck Parham will receive an honorary degree from SMU for his humanitarian achievements.

Groesbeck Parham

DALLAS (SMU) - SMU has chosen a visionary leader devoted to improving the lives of the world's poor to receive an honorary degree at its May 14 Commencement Convocation.

Groesbeck Parham, a leader in cancer prevention in Third World countries, will receive the Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Groesbeck Parham
Groesbeck Parham

Parham is a gynecologic oncologist and professor of gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has spent much of the past 30 years in Africa, however, where he is helping lead and implement Zambia's first national cervical cancer control program.

For Zambian women, cervical cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and is fatal to 81 percent of women with the disease. Cervical cancer is particularly dangerous to HIV-infected women. Parham helped develop a simple and inexpensive screening procedure that has been used by 350,000 Zambian women and has been adopted by health providers in countries from South Africa to China.

Four SMU students traveled in 2013 with President George Bush and Laura Bush and SMU Global Health Professor Eric Bing to volunteer with Parham in Zambia. Other SMU students also have worked with Parham to develop cervical cancer research applications.

Parham's work to combat cervical and breast cancer in Africa and Latin America is supported by Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, a partnership founded by the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, UNAIDS and the Zambian government.

SMU has conferred more than 280 honorary degrees in its 100-year history, including three U.S. presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Other recipients include the Archbishop of Canterbury, author Eudora Welty, civil rights activist Marion Wright Edleman, business leader Ross Perot and pianist Van Cliburn.

The Commencement Convocation will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in Moody Coliseum. The event will be live-streamed at