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University Announces Honorary Degree Awardees


Posted 05/05/2017
Submitted by Meagan Fazio
Category: Campus Announcements

The University will grant several honorary degrees during the 2017 Commencement ceremonies. Keynote speakers U.S. Reps. Mia Love ’97 and Richard Neal M’76 will be awarded honorary Doctors of Laws. (Read the previous story announcing these honors.) Obie McKenzie; Richard J. Gilfillan, MD; Jennifer Smith Turner; and Robert H. Forrester ’66 (clockwise from top left in photo) are the other awardees.

Obie McKenzie will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science during the Graduate Commencement ceremony. McKenzie is a managing director at BlackRock, the largest institutional asset management firm in the United States. He graduated from Tennessee State University in 1967 and received his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 1972. As a senior relationship manager for BlackRock, McKenzie is responsible for managing relationships with some of the largest pension funds in the United States, including the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, New York City Employees’ Retirement System, and the Federal Reserve Employee Benefits System.

Dr. Richard J. “Rick” Gilfillan will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the Graduate Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 20. Gilfillan is president and chief executive officer of Trinity Health, the $16.3 billion Catholic health system that serves communities in 22 states with 93 hospitals, as well as 120 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Trinity Health’s continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Trinity Health’s continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.

Jennifer Smith Turner will also be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the Undergraduate ceremony. She is the retired chief executive of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, where she served as the inaugural chief executive officer of the organization created in 2007 from the merger of five Girl Scout councils.

She is president and chief executive officer of Smith & Associates LLC, a company that specializes in assisting organizations in achieving their strategic and operational potential. She is the former deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and is credited with re-energizing the state’s industry cluster initiative and for bringing affordable housing to the forefront of the state’s economic agenda. Turner recently completed a 16-year term as a regent at the University of Hartford.

Robert H. Forrester ’66 will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21. Forrester's career as a senior executive of major organizations, and as the founder and chief executive officer of a leading international consulting firm specializing in philanthropy, spans 47 years. He was a close friend and philanthropic advisor to Paul Newman. In 2005, Newman asked him to join Newman’s Own Foundation as its first president. Today, Forrester serves as president and chief executive officer of Newman’s Own Foundation, executive chairman of Newman’s Own, Inc., and manager of the company that owns all the intellectual property rights associated with Newman’s Own and Paul Newman personally.