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Best Honorary Degrees of All Time

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    Stephen Jay Gould

    Stephen Jay Gould

    Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the latter years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University near his home in SoHo. Gould's most significant contribution to science was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record. Most of Gould's empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. He also contributed to evolutionary developmental biology, and has received wide praise for his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In evolutionary theory
    4 votes
    Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Tyrone Colbert ( /koʊlˈbɛər/ or /ˈkoʊlbərt/; born May 13, 1964) is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits. Colbert originally studied to be an actor, but became interested in improvisational theatre when he met famed Second City director Del Close while attending Northwestern University. He first performed professionally as an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City Chicago; among his troupe mates were comedians Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris, with whom he developed the critically acclaimed sketch comedy series Exit 57. Colbert also wrote and performed on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show before collaborating with Sedaris and Dinello again on the cult television series Strangers with Candy. He gained considerable attention for his role on the latter as closeted gay history teacher Chuck Noblet. It was his work as a correspondent on Comedy Central's news-parody series The Daily Show, however, that first introduced him to a wide audience. In 2005, he left The Daily Show with Jon
    4 votes
    Hunter S. Thompson

    Hunter S. Thompson

    Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author. Born in Louisville, Kentucky to a middle class family, Thompson went off the rails at the age of 15 after the death of his father left the family in poverty. Sentenced to 60 days in prison at the age of 18 for abetting a robbery, he never formally graduated school due to his incarceration. He subsequently joined the United States Air Force before moving into journalism. He travelled frequently, including stints in Puerto Rico and Brazil, before settling in Aspen, Colorado in the early 1960s. Thompson became internationally famous with the publication of Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967), for which he had spent a year living and riding with the Angels, experiencing their lives and hearing their stories first hand. Previously a relatively conventional journalist, with the publication in 1970 of The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, he became a counter cultural figure, with his own brand of New Journalism he termed "Gonzo", an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that
    3 votes

    Arnold Loxam

    Arnold Loxam was a professional concert organist. He was a native of Bradford, Yorkshire and gave his first broadcast there as a child pianist in 1925. Loxam made his first appearance on the keyboard of the Wurlitzer organ at the then New Victoria cinema in Bradford. Arnold Loxam first visited the New Victoria Cinema, Bradford, which later became the Odeon, when he was a 14-year-old member of the audience on the opening night of the theatre on 22 September 1930. In 1946 he began playing regularly for New Victoria audiences and broadcasting from the theatre for BBC Radio.He was appointed deputy organist playing every Sunday and deputised for Norman Briggs until 1948. From December 1948 Arnold also played full weeks or odd days as well as Sundays. He was famous for his bouncey style. He gave his first solo broadcast on the BBC Theatre Organ on 29 November 1947. The association with Bradford continued until 1962 when the BBC switched its broadcasts to the Leeds Odeon. Dr Loxam was invited back in 1968 to make a final broadcast from what had by then become the Gaumont before the Wurlitzer organ was taken to the North East Theatre Organ's headquarters in Howden-le-Wear, County
    4 votes

    Benjamin Hooks

    Benjamin Lawson Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010) was an American civil rights leader. A Baptist minister and practicing attorney, he served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1977 to 1992, and throughout his career was a vocal campaigner for civil rights in the United States. Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the fifth of seven children of Robert B. Hooks and Bessie White Hooks. His father was a photographer and owned a photography studio with his brother Henry known at the time as Hooks Brothers, and the family was fairly comfortable by the standards of black people for the day. Still, he recalls that he had to wear hand-me-down clothes and that his mother had to be careful to make the dollars stretch to feed and care for the family. Young Benjamin’s paternal grandmother, Julia Britton Hooks (1852–1942), graduated from Berea College in Kentucky in 1874 and was only the second American black woman to graduate from college. She was a musical prodigy who began playing piano publicly at age five, and at age 18 joined Berea’s faculty, teaching instrumental music 1870–72. Her sister, Dr. Mary
    3 votes

    Ashok Kumar

    Ashok Kumar (28 May 1956 – 15 March 2010) was an Indian-born British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland from 1997 until his death shortly before the 2010 general election. Kumar was born in Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India, to Jagat Ram Saini and Santosh Kumari, who immigrated to Derby with him when he was two. He attended Rykneld Boys' Secondary Modern School (later merged with Bemrose Grammar School and now Bemrose Community School), Derby. He left at 15 with 2 O-levels. He returned to education and attended Derby & District College of Art & Technology then studied chemical engineering at Aston University, Birmingham where he was awarded a BSc in 1978, and an MSc in Process Analysis and Control Theory in 1980, and a PhD in Fluid Mechanics in 1982. The thesis title was Velocity distributions in a plate heat exchanger. He was a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, a Chartered Engineer and a Member of the Energy Institute. He was a Research Fellow at Imperial College London (1982–5) and worked as a research scientist at British Steel, Middlesbrough from 1985 to 1997. He began his political career as a
    3 votes

    Leena Palotie

    Leena Peltonen-Palotie (16 June 1952 – 11 March 2010) was a Finnish geneticist who contributed to the identification of 15 genes for Finnish heritage diseases, including arterial hypertension, schizophrenia, lactose intolerance, arthrosis and multiple sclerosis. She was considered one of the world's leading molecular geneticists. Born in Helsinki, Finland, Peltonen-Palotie received her license (Licentiate of Medicine) in 1976 and in 1978, presented her dissertation to graduate to Doctor of Science in Medicine from the University of Oulu. Peltonen-Palotie worked at the National Public Health Institute of Finland 1987–1998. From 1998 to 2002 she helped found the UCLA Department of Human Genetics. She had a professorial position in the Academy of Finland since 2003. In April 2005 Peltonen-Palotie was employed in the University of Helsinki and the National Public Health Institute of Finland. She was also the project director in the EU project GenomEUtwin that was formed to define and characterize the genetic components in the background of different diseases. In 2004 she became a member of the Board of Directors of Orion Corporation, the largest Finnish pharmaceutical company. In
    1 votes
    Terry Wogan

    Terry Wogan

    Sir Michael Terence Wogan, KBE, DL (born 3 August 1938) is an Irish radio and television broadcaster who holds dual Irish and British citizenship. Wogan has worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom for most of his career. Before he retired from the weekday breakfast programme Wake Up to Wogan on BBC Radio 2 on 18 December 2009, it had a regular 8 million listeners, making Wogan the most listened-to radio broadcaster of any European nation. He began his career at Raidió Teilifís Éireann where he presented shows such as Jackpot in the 1960s. Wogan has been a leading media personality in the UK since the late 1960s and is often referred to as a national treasure. He is perhaps best known in the United Kingdom for his BBC1 chat show Wogan, for his work presenting Children in Need, as the host of Wake Up to Wogan, the original host of the BBC game show Blankety Blank (before being replaced by Les Dawson), a presenter of Come Dancing in the 1970s, and as the BBC's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest on radio and television from 1971 to 2008. Wogan currently hosts a two hour Sunday morning show, Weekend Wogan on Radio 2. Wogan, the son of a grocery store manager in Limerick City,
    2 votes
    Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university. Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and
    1 votes

    Kenneth J Dover

    Sir Kenneth James Dover, FRSE, FBA (11 March 1920 – 7 March 2010) was a distinguished British Classical scholar and academic, who was head of an Oxford college and from 1981 until his retirement in December 2005 was Chancellor of the University of St Andrews. He was the author of Greek Homosexuality, a key text on the subject. Kenneth Dover was born in London, the only child of Percy Dover and Dorothy Healey. He was educated at St Paul's School and Balliol College, Oxford. He served with the Royal Artillery during the Second World War and was mentioned in dispatches for his service in Italy. After military service, Dover returned to Oxford and became Fellow and tutor at his old college in 1948. In 1955, Dover was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews, and was twice Dean of the university's Faculty of Arts during his twenty-one years there. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1975. Dover received a knighthood two years later for services to Greek scholarship. In 1976, Dover became President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a post he held for ten years. During this tenure a fellow of the College, Trevor Henry Aston (1925–1985), who suffered
    0 votes
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