Former Gov. Deval Patrick to deliver 2022 Commencement address; TV producer Marta Kauffman to speak to classes of 2020 and 2021

NASA engineer Christine Mann Darden and AJC executive David Harris to receive honorary degrees

Gov. Deval Patrick (left), Marta Kauffman '78

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, H'17, (l) and television producer Marta Kauffman '78, H'20

On the morning of May 22, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will deliver the address at Brandeis’ 71st Commencement Exercises, the first to take place in person since May 2019.

In the evening, Brandeis alumna Marta Kauffman '78, H'20, one of the originators of “Friends” among other television hits, will speak to the classes of 2020 and 2021 at their [Re]Commencement, an in-person celebration of their graduations. Their Commencement ceremonies were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Patrick and Kauffman have honorary degrees from Brandeis. Patrick received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2017; Kauffman was named the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Creative Arts degree in 2020. Along with the members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021, she was unable to celebrate that achievement in person.

“Our Commencement exercises recognize the hard work, persistence, and dedication of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff,” said Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. “The three classes we will honor on May 22 have earned their moment to celebrate, particularly in light of challenges they have faced. All three of these classes had their college or graduate school experiences remarkably altered by COVID-19. We at Brandeis are so pleased to restore our in-person celebration for these students and alumni.”

Christine Mann Darden, a NASA engineer immortalized in the book and film “Hidden Figures,” and David Harris, P'05, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, will be awarded honorary degrees as part of the morning Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2022.

The evening ceremony will honor Kauffman along with her fellow 2020 honorary degree recipients, Ruth Calderon, Howardena Pindell, and Alan Hassenfeld. Honorary degree recipients for 2021 were recognized in a ceremony on campus in the fall of 2021.

“I am thrilled to welcome to campus our [Re]Commencement speaker, Marta Kauffman, along with her fellow 2020 honorary degree recipients, as part of our long-awaited celebration of the Classes of 2020 and 2021,” Liebowitz said.

2022 Honorees

“Our Commencement speaker former Governor Patrick and honorary degree recipients Christine Mann Darden and David Harris have lived exemplary lives of achievement and service to humankind,” Liebowitz said. “They embody Brandeis’ core value of using one’s talents to improve the world. I have no doubt they will serve as inspirations to the Class of 2022 and our entire community.”

Brandeis committed to holding in-person celebrations at a later date for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 after the pandemic forced their Commencements to be held virtually. Because not all members of those classes may be able to return to Brandeis this May, they are also welcome to return and march in any future Brandeis Commencement.

Headshot of Christne Mann Darden H'22
Getty Images

Christine Mann Darden

Christine Mann Darden will receive an honorary doctor of science degree. She is a widely recognized mathematician, data analyst and aerospace engineer.

After Darden completed her master’s degree in 1967, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration hired her to serve as one of its “human computers,” a story told in the 2016 book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”

Darden went on to become one of NASA’s few female engineers, and has received numerous awards for her achievements, including the Congressional Gold Medal.

David Harris H'22 speaking at a podium

David Harris

David Harris, 'P05 will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters. He has led the American Jewish Committee (AJC), an organization dedicated to the security and well-being of the Jewish people around the world, for more than three decades, and will retire in fall 2022.

Harris’s work on behalf of the world’s Jews began in 1974, when he witnessed the dire circumstances of Soviet Jewry while on a U.S./Soviet exchange. He was described by Shimon Peres, the late president of Israel, as the “foreign minister of the Jewish people.”

Commencement Speaker former Gov. Deval Patrick, H'17, is no stranger to Brandeis. The recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree from Brandeis in 2017, Patrick is co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and was the 71st governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving from 2007 to 2015.

Patrick serves as founding chair of the advisory board for Our Generation Speaks, an innovative fellowship program that, in partnership with Brandeis University and MassChallenge, helps young Israeli and Palestinian leaders start sustainable ventures that can create jobs, build bridges and nurture hope in their communities. In 2021, Brandeis International Business School recognized Patrick with the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship, for his embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit.

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