Honorary degrees given to current staff, alumni

By Melissa Oveson

This year, five community members will be receiving honorary doctoral degrees during graduation at the Huntsman Center on May 2.

Nominations for the 2008 awards came from across the campus and community. Most of the nominations came from the Board of Trustees, former recipients of the award and various members of the U faculty and staff. The awards are hailed as one of the highest honors the U can bestow.

“There is no set number of awards given out,” said Laura Snow, special assistant to the president. “However, we do not give out too many so that the importance of the award is not diminished.”

Snow said each year, honorary degrees are awarded to individuals who have achieved unusual distinction in academic pursuits, arts, business, government, civic affairs or in service to the U. Snow said she believed this year’s recipients have qualifications above and beyond the required award criteria.

“It’s certainly a great honor,” said Dinesh Patel, this year’s recipient of a Doctorate of Business. “I work hard with the university, but it was definitely unexpected.”

Patel, an award-winning entrepreneur, is a managing director and founding partner of vSpring Capital, a multi-million dollar fund.

“Whatever your dreams are, go for them because you will never know if you don’t,” Patel said.

Other winners include:

— Claudia Skaggs Luttrell, chosen for a Doctorate of Humane Letters. Luttrell is a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and president of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology. She has dedicated most of her life to continuing education in the pharmaceutical field based on her beliefs that people’s lives should be enriched by quick and inexpensive medication.

— David Nelleman, chosen for a Doctorate of Business award. Nelleman, founder and chairman of JetBlue Airways, was once a student at the U. His unique business strategies have made him a pioneer in his field as JetBlue’s reservations are handled by employees working out of their homes.

— U Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi, chosen to receive a Doctorate of Science. Capecchi, a distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the U’s School of Medicine, recently received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His pioneering work on the development of gene targeting has revolutionized mammalian biology and benefited all fields of biomedicine. Capecchi has won numerous awards for his dedication to the field of medicine and will speak at the graduation ceremonies.

— Kent Murdock, CEO of O.C. Tanner, chosen to receive this year’s Doctorate of Humanities. Murdock serves as a leading voice in strategic recognition and is a board member for the Tanner Lectures on Human Values. He is a member of the advisory boards of the U’s College of Humanities and the David Eccles School of Business.

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