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Five Distinguished Guests, Students to be Honored at UI Spring Commencement Ceremonies

The estimated 4,757 University of Iowa graduates receiving their degrees during spring 2010 commencement ceremonies won’t be the only ones honored.

Five distinguished guests will also receive honorary doctorates, including a popular and trailblazing former University of Iowa women’s head basketball coach, a world-famous television reporter and author, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate, one of the University’s most influential entrepreneurs and philanthropists, and an Iowa engineering leader.

Following are the five individuals who will receive either an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters or an Honorary Doctor of Science at the UI spring commencement ceremonies:

Tom Brokaw will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15. Brokaw began his college education at the UI (1958-59) and graduated from the University of South Dakota with a major in political science. He began working for NBC within four years of his college graduation and remained there for his entire professional career, receiving many of the highest honors in his profession, including the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award and the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Brokaw is the author of The Greatest Generation.

Robert Hass, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the CLAS commencement ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15. Hass, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the 2007 National Book Award for Time and Materials, was a visiting faculty member in the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1995 when he was selected U.S. Poet Laureate, a post he held from 1995 to 1997. He returned to the UI to teach in 2002-03, 2004, and 2006-07. A professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley since 1989, Hass was named Educator of the Year in 1997 by the North American Association on Environmental Education. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

C. Vivian Stringer will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the CLAS commencement ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15. Stringer, who served as the UI head women’s basketball coach from 1983 to 1995, is currently head coach at Rutgers University. Stringer is well known to the people of Iowa as a successful women’s basketball coach. The first coach, male or female, to take teams at three different schools (including one from the UI) to the Final Four, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and more recently into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in the same “class” as Michael Jordan. She has been named National Coach of the Year three times, has led three teams to 23 NCAA tournaments, and was an assistant coach on the gold-medal winning 2004 Olympic team.Her nomination for an honorary degree, however, rests not on having achieved the third-highest number of wins as a coach in women’s basketball history, but on her contributions in the areas of education and human rights, and her pioneering work that has opened the door for other women, including women of color, to succeed on the national stage.

Gregs G. Thomopulos will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Science at the College of Engineering commencement ceremony at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15, in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge. Thomopulos, of Iowa City, is CEO and chairman of the Board of Stanley Consultants Inc. in Muscatine, Iowa, and has more than 40 years of experience in the engineering and construction industry. Among his many achievements, he has served on the advisory boards of the UI College of Engineering and IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, served on numerous community and professional committees, served as president of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, and mentored and supported students from all three Iowa regents universities. He was named The Engineering News Record’s 21st Century World Citizen in 2004.

John Pappajohn will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the Tippie College of Business Commencement at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Pappajohn is one of the UI’s most accomplished alumni and one of Iowa's most influential entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Pappajohn, who earned a bachelor's degree in business from the UI in 1952, is receiving the honor because of his achievements, dedication to the community, and his efforts to spearhead entrepreneurship. His philanthropic interests have focused on education, the arts, and health care in Iowa. Some highlights include organizing and financing the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at five universities and colleges in Iowa; the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, to be housed in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building now under construction; and the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in downtown Des Moines, to name a few.

The Tippie commencement schedule is listed below.

Friday, May 14:

UI School of Management (MBA program) Tippie College of Business, 10 a.m., Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville. Number of degrees conferred: 169. Degrees will be conferred by UI Provost Wallace Loh. The speaker will be Clay Jones, chairman, president, and CEO of Rockwell Collins.

Saturday, May 15:

UI Graduate College, 3 p.m., Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Number of degrees to be conferred, 894, of which 748 are master’s degrees and 146 are doctorates. The speaker will be Judith Liskin-Gasparro, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who is also affiliated with Second Language Acquisition, a UI Graduate College program. She is also a past winner of a Graduate College Mentor Award.

Sunday, May 16:

Tippie College of Business, 1 p.m., Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Number of degrees to be conferred, 610. Degrees will be conferred by President Sally Mason. The speaker will be Chuck Peters, president and CEO of Gazette Communications Inc.

Please note that Carver-Hawkeye Arena is undergoing renovation. Guests should use south and west entrances. In the interest of safety, no special seating for guests will be available on the lower level. Guests with disabilities or limited mobility should find seating near the concourse level. Wheelchair and scooter spaces can be found in sections K-N. The ceremony can be viewed from above or on large screens that can be found in these sections. A sign language interpreter will be on stage and interpret the ceremony.

UI Television will videotape all of the commencement ceremonies for broadcast at later dates. To see when commencement ceremonies will air, visit

Instructions for ordering a DVD copy of any previous commencement ceremony can also be found on the UITV web site at

Complete information about UI commencements can be found on the UI Commencements web site at

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