Earlier today, Columbia released the names of this year’s honorary degree recipients, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Yo-Yo Ma.  

Editor’s Warning: This article contains mentions of sexual abuse allegations.

On April 15, Columbia announced this year’s honorary degree recipients, a tradition meant to recognize people of great accomplishment. During the Commencement ceremony on May 18, honorary degrees will be given to Hillary Rodham Clinton, Carla Hayden, William Kentridge, Yo-Yo Ma, James Polshek, and Patti Smith. Further, alumna Jodi Kantor will receive the University Medal of Excellence, given out yearly to an alumnus or alumna with an outstanding record in scholarship, public service, or professional life. The full list and specific degrees of these recipients are provided below.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Doctor of Laws: Clinton has served as First Lady, US Senator from New York, and US Secretary of State, and became the first woman nominated for president by a major US political party in 2016. Her accomplishments include advocating for healthcare reform, helping rebuild New York after 9/11, and navigating cease-fire agreements in the Middle East. 

Dr. Carla D. Hayden, Doctor of Letters: Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress, becoming the first woman and first African American to lead the national library. She also served as the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. 

Jodi Kantor, University Medal for Excellence: Kantor is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter whose work deals with power, gender, technology, and politics. She helped break the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, assisting in igniting the  #MeToo movement. 

William Kentridge, Doctor of Humane Letters: Kentridge is renowned for his drawings, films, theatre, and opera productions. His work is grounded in politics, science, literature, and history and has been featured in global museums and galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Yo-Yo Ma, Doctor of Music: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has long worked to foster connections and collaborate with communities to explore the role of culture in society. He has recorded over 90 albums and has received 19 Grammys. 

James Stewart Polshek, Doctor of Humane Letters: In his long career as an architect and educator, Polshek has created many buildings, inspiring generations of architecture students. For 15 years, Polshek also acted as the Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.  

Patti Smith, Doctor of Humane Letters: Smith’s work as a writer and performer has garnered her recognition for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released 12 albums, including Horses, and written numerous books, including the award-winning novel Just Kids.

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