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Honorary Degree Recipients

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Commencement Speakers

Kennedy Owiti Odede, Doctor of Humane Letters (Speaker, Sunday, May 15)

Kennedy Owiti Odede

Odede is an internationally recognized social entrepreneur, a New York Times best-selling author, and the co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), which combats extreme poverty and gender inequality by linking free schools for girls to a set of high-value, holistic community services for all.

A former street child who lived most of his life in Kibera, a neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya and one of Africa’s largest slums, Odede founded SHOFCO with savings from his $1-per-day factory job. SHOFCO’s programs collectively served more than 76,000 individuals in 2015. Its core initiatives are education, health, community empowerment, and water and sanitation. The organization is scaling across Kenya’s slums, currently focused on the Kibera and Mathare slums.

Although he had never attended formal school, Odede received a full scholarship to Wesleyan University. He graduated in 2012 with honors in sociology, and was the commencement speaker. He was awarded the 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship, which is given to the world’s top emerging social entrepreneurs. He won the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition, and is a recipient of the Mohammed Ali Humanitarian Award and the Applause Africa Humanitarian of the Year Award.

He was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs in 2014, and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. He is also the cochair of the United Nations Youth Panel for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The New York Times, CNN, and Project Syndicate have published his opinion articles on urban poverty. President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and The New York Times columnists David Brooks and Nicholas Kristof have featured his works. Kristof’s multiplatform work for Half the Sky Movement to put an end to oppression of women and children worldwide has also featured Odede.

Odede and his wife, Jessica Posner, recently released their New York Times best-selling memoir titled Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum.

Donna Marie Randall, Doctor of Humane Letters (Speaker, Saturday, May 14)

Donna Randall

Randall has been the chief executive officer of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California since July 2014. Through research and education programs, the institute seeks to prevent cancer and to reduce the burden of cancer where it cannot yet be prevented.

Previously, Randall served as chancellor of Albion College (2013–14) and as its 15th president (2007–13). She served as provost at the University of Hartford for seven years (2000–07), while serving as acting dean for the Hartford College for Women for three of those years. Prior to that, she was dean and professor of management at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

Her earlier academic background includes chair and faculty in the Department of Management and Systems at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, and visiting professor at University College in Dublin, Ireland.

Randall has served on more than 15 corporate, community, and nonprofit boards, and has been appointed to numerous national advisory committees, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Tax Policy Committee, the Council for Independent Colleges Campaign for the Liberal Arts and Liberal Arts Colleges, and American Council on Education’s Commission on Women in Higher Education. She has served on editorial boards, and her writings on higher education issues, business ethics and malfeasance, women in toxic work environments, and organizational commitment have been published extensively.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Randall holds an MA and PhD in sociology and an MBA from Washington State University, and a BA in sociology from Drake University. Notably, she holds certificates from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management for Senior Executive Leadership, and the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents.

Other Honorary Degree Recipients

Miriam Therese Winter, Doctor of Humane Letters (Saturday, May 14)

 Miriam Winter

Miriam Therese “M.T.” Winter, PhD, joined the Hartford Seminary in 1980 to establish a department of liturgy, worship, and spirituality. Her ecumenical and cross-cultural emphases in theory and in practice, along with a deeply rooted feminist perspective, resulted in the Women’s Leadership Institute and a new master’s degree in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary.

Winter is a Medical Mission Sister with a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and three honorary doctorates from Roman Catholic universities. In 2002, she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

She has published award-winning books on Biblical women; on feminist ritual and spirituality; and on spirituality in a quantum universe. Her teaching and her publications are the result of her desire to explore new and more authentic ways of living faithfully here and now, when all is constantly evolving. Her scholarship and sense of being in the world are rooted in what she calls the liturgy of life, a perspective that embraces all creation and is shaped by her multifaceted experiences locally and around the world. Since the 1960s, she has given voice to this in song. A pioneer in introducing folk-style liturgical music into Catholic tradition in the wake of Vatican II, her first recording, “Joy is like the Rain”, went Gold and her “Mass of a Pilgrim People” was premiered at the first ecumenical concert ever at Carnegie Hall. Many of her songs and hymns have been embraced ecumenically and are popular on other continents. Her more than a dozen recordings include collections of her songs sung by recording artists from various faith traditions.

Winter is imbued with the pioneering call of her international community. She offers a healing presence to a deeply wounded world, for her spirit is one with the powerless and poor and with all who are willing to help bring about a more just and peace-filled planet.

Alan B. Lazowski, Doctor of Commercial Science (Sunday, May 15)

Alan B. Lazowski

Alan B. Lazowski is chairman, chief operating officer, and founder of Connecticut-based LAZ Parking, which has parking garages throughout the United States. He co-founded the company in 1981 while attending the University of Connecticut and has grown LAZ Parking into a national hospitality parking company. He also has completed coursework at Harvard University specializing in real estate investment analysis.

LAZ Parking’s mission statement begins with “Create opportunities for our employees.” Lazowski is a well-respected philanthropist who has given both time and money to various charitable efforts and started the LAZ Parking Charitable Foundation in 2009.

Lazowski has received numerous professional awards, including the Thomas and Bette Wolff Family Entrepreneurship Award from the University of Connecticut, the NAACP Civil Rights Award, the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award, the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hartford Business Journal.

He is on the board of directors of the National Parking Association, the Green Parking Council, Women in Parking, the Goodwin College Foundation, The Bushnell, the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation, the Hebrew Home and Hospital, the Anti-Defamation League, the Hartford Economic Development Corporation, and the Chabad House of Greater Hartford.

He also is the founder and co-chair of the Voices of Hope organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors. In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Lazowski to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Rabbi Philip Lazowski, Doctor of Humane Letters (sunday, may 15)

Rabbi Lazowski

Philip Lazowski, PhD, is rabbi emeritus at Beth Hillel Synagogue and a member and past president of the Education Council of Greater Hartford and the Educators Assembly of Connecticut. He has ministered as chaplain at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living for the past 40 years and, from 1972 to 2015, as chaplain for the Hartford Police. He is also chaplain of the Connecticut State Senate.

A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Lazowski has authored 14 books. His first, Faith and Destiny, is the autobiographical account of how, as a young boy, his “faith and sheer will to survive carried him through four years of fear, tragedy, and horror in Nazi-occupied Poland.” When he was 12, Rabbi Lazowski’s mother pushed him from the window of a movie theater in Zetl, Poland, and told him to save himself, be somebody, and tell the world what was going on. The rabbi has spoken to thousands across the globe about his experiences and the Holocaust.

Rabbi Lazowski has taught modern Hebrew at the University and serves on the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Board of Visitors.

He received his Bachelor of Religious Education from the Teachers Institute of Yeshiva University in 1955, his Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in 1956, and his Master of Science from Yeshiva University’s Graduate School of Education in 1960. He was ordained as rabbi by the Academy of Higher Jewish Learning in 1962 and awarded his doctorate of Jewish Literature from Jewish Teachers Seminary and People’s University in 1970. He was awarded his doctorate by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985. He is also licensed permanently as a Hebrew School principal.

Rabbi Lazowski and his wife, the former Ruth Rabinowitz of Hartford, have three married sons, Barry, Alan, and David. The rabbi and Alan (CEO of LAZ Parking) helped fund the University’s Rwanda Teachers Education Program, which includes genocide education.

Calvin Trillin, Doctor of Letters (sunday, may 15)

Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for more than 50 years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His wry commentaries on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice, a 2007 New York Times bestseller, was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece.”

Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, served in the army, and then joined Time. In 1963, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called “U.S. Journal”—3,000‑word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer’s wife in Iowa to the author’s effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee’s “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book The New York Times Book Review called “that rarity, reportage as art.”

From 1978 to 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, and from 1996 to 2001, he wrote a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books. His Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011. Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. His books of what he calls deadline poetry have all been New York Times bestsellers.

Trillin lectures widely and has written and presented two critically acclaimed one‑man shows at the American Place Theatre in New York. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.