Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 28, 2022

University will award six honorary degrees in 2018

By ALYSSA WOODEN | May 3, 2018

JAMES DUNCAN DAVIDSON/ CC BY-SA 3.0 Stevenson is the founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative.

The University’s six honorary degree recipients for this year include a co-owner of the Baltimore Orioles, an investment firm president, a prize-winning neuroscientist and a human rights lawyer. The list of recipients was announced on April 25, and the honorary degrees will be awarded at commencement on May 24.

David H. Bernstein graduated from the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences in 1957 with a degree in Political Science and is currently a trustee emeritus of the University. He became president in 1966 of the Baltimore-based Samuel Meisel and Company, which provided duty-free products to several east coast cities. 

Bernstein expanded the company into Duty Free International, which operated duty-free retail stores along U.S. borders and in international airports. He is currently one of the owners of the Baltimore Orioles and has supported many University operations, including scholarships and endowed professorships.

Mellody Hobson became the president of Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments nine years after graduating from Princeton University. Ariel Investments is one of the largest African-American owned investment companies in the country, with over $13 billion in assets. 

Hobson currently serves on the board of directors for several organizations, including Estée Lauder Companies Inc., the Starbucks Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Chicago Public Education Fund. She is married to George Lucas, another one of the University’s 2018 honorary degree recipients.

George Lucas is the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film franchises as well as the founder of Lucasfilm, which is credited with developing many special effects and computer animation technologies. 

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Lucas began writing, directing and editing several smaller films before beginning to work on Star Wars. The space adventure was originally turned down by all except one studio but went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time. 

Lucas sold Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Company in 2012 and founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation in 1991.

Bishop Douglas Miles is a Hopkins alum and one of the co-founders of the Black Student Union. A native Baltimorean, Miles was an activist during the Civil Rights Movement and advocated for the University to hire more black faculty. 

In 1992 he founded the Koinonia Baptist Church in Baltimore, of which he is the pastor, and he currently serves as co-chair of the community improvement organization Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. Miles continues to be involved in University programs such as BLocal and HopkinsLocal.

Solomon H. Snyder became the University’s youngest full professor in 1966 after joining Hopkins as an assistant resident in Psychiatry the year before. 

He later founded the Department of Neuroscience at the School of Medicine and is known for his research on receptors of neurotransmitters and psychoactive drugs. His research has been used in the development of antipsychotic medications. 

Currently a distinguished service professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Snyder has won numerous awards for his work, including the National Medal of Science.

Bryan A. Stevenson, this year’s commencement speaker, is a founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which provides legal representation to prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted. 

Stevenson, who faced segregation and racism during his childhood, went on to attend Harvard Law School and founded the EJI in 1995 with the help of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship. Stevenson has advocated against overly harsh punishments against children who have committed crimes, and as of 2016 EJI has saved 125 men from the death penalty. 

An active public speaker, Stevenson has also developed a memorial commemorating lynching victims, created a museum and published a memoir titled Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

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