Dr. John Seffrin to speak at Baccalaureate, four others to receive honorary degrees

Pictured: Dr. John Seffrin. Photo courtesy of Indiana University.

By Colton Williams
Executive Editor

During the University Baccalaureate service on May 11, five distinguished visitors will receive honorary degrees from the University. Roger W. Ferguson Jr., R.F. Foster, Matthew Golombek, Sherry Magill, and Dr. John Seffrin will be honored at the event. Seffrin, former Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society, will give the Baccalaureate address.

Seffrin led the American Cancer Society from 1992 to 2015, including its advocacy arm, the American Cancer Society Advocacy Network. Seffrin earned his Ph.D. in Health Education from Purdue University, taught at Indiana University, and has received honorary degrees from several other institutions. In addition to his work at the American Cancer Society, he also helped create the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

SGA President Mac Bouldin (C’19) said he was glad to hear about the selection of Seffrin as the Baccalaureate speaker.

“I look forward to hearing from him,” Bouldin said. “His work at the American Cancer Society is impressive and his dedication to fighting cancer is inspirational. As a graduating student, I appreciate seeing individuals who have used their extraordinary academic and professional success to help improve the lives of people across the world. I am sure that Sewanee will give him the welcoming he deserves and that his remarks will not disappoint.”

Roger W. Ferguson Jr., another honorary degree recipient with extraordinary professional success,  is currently the President and CEO of TIAA (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund), for short, TIAA. Ferguson earned his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. from Harvard University and has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Previously, Ferguson had worked for McKinsey and Company and Swiss Re. Ferguson was the only member of the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. on 9/11, and in his position took actions in order to keep the U.S. financial system operating while under threat.

R.F. “Roy” Foster is an academic and Irish historian, who is emeritus professor at Oxford University, and currently teaches at Queen Mary University of London. One of the foremost scholars on Irish history in the modern period, Foster has published several renowned works, including: Modern Ireland, 1600-1972 (1988), W.B. Yeats: A Life (1998), and The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making it Up in Ireland (2001).

Matthew Golombek is a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who has worked for more than 25 years on NASA’s missions to Mars. Golombek earned his Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from the University of Massachusetts, and in his academic career has worked at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado, and the Paris Institute of Earth Physics. He was the chief scientist for the Mars Pathfinder Mission, and most recently was project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

Sherry Magill was President and CEO of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund from 1993-2018. The fund, which name may sound familiar to members of the Sewanee community, is a grant-making foundation based in Jacksonville, Florida. Before working for the duPont Fund, Magill was a vice president of Washington College, a liberal arts college in Chestertown, Maryland. In addition, she is also the founding director of the Wye Faculty Seminar, which aims “to assist professors from colleges and universities in relating their teaching to broad issues of citizenship in the American polity and beyond.”