Honoring Contributions • From top left to top right: Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gary Michelson and Sizanne Dvorak-Peck. From bottom left to bottom right: Helen Mirren, David Ho and Will Ferrell.
USC will honor six degree recipients
Actor Will Ferrell, the 2017 commencement speaker, will receive an honorary degree.
By Arianna Scavone, Assistant Editor • Daily Trojan
March 21, 2017
USC will grant six honorary degrees at the 2017 commencement ceremony on May 12 for civic, academic, scientific and artistic contributions, according to USC News.
The recipients are actor and comedian Will Ferrell, social work leader Suzanne Dworak-Peck, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center founding director David Ho, biomedical innovator Gary Michelson, actress Helen Mirren and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Ferrell will also be the commencement ceremony speaker.
Along with the honorary degrees, approximately 15,000 degrees will be commended this year, including 1,500 doctorate degrees.
Ferrell will be honored for his philanthropic contributions to campus initiatives such as USC’s annual Swim With Mike fundraiser, which supports athletes with physical disabilities, and Cancer for College, which confers college scholarships to cancer survivors.
Dworak-Peck was named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers. After conferring $60 million to name and endowing the USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, she has since served as the chair of the School of Social Work’s Board of Councilors.
Ho has received the Presidential Citizens Medal and 13 honorary doctorates, and in 1996 was recognized as TIME magazine’s “Man of the Year” for pioneering AIDS research.
Michelson is known for spinal surgery techniques improving the safety, effectiveness and expense of traditional spinal surgery approaches. Michelson and his wife, Alya, have teamed with USC to start the Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, which aims to conduct research accelerating the development of scientific and medical innovation.
Mirren is the only actress to have ever played both Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II on camera and has received numerous Emmy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes for her portrayal of dramatic, multidimensional characters.
Ridley-Thomas earned his Ph.D. from USC in 1989, and has since worked to better civic engagement in local communities, improve access to high-quality health care and provide critical services to the homeless. Ridley-Thomas currently serves as chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and is on the board of L.A. Care and is on the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.