Honorary Degree Recipients
The Board of Trustees maintain a full list of honorary degrees awarded to people who have exemplified in their work the highest ideals and standards to which the University is dedicated.
2021 John Legend, Multiplatinum-selling singer-songwriter, actor, producer and philanthropist
2020 Ken Jeong, Actor, comedian and Duke alum
2019 Lisa Borders, Former President & CEO of Time’s Up
2018 Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
2017 David Rubenstein, Former Chair of the university’s Board of Trustees
2016 Michael Krzyzewski, Duke Men’s Basketball Head Coach
2015 Paul Farmer, Co-founder, Partners In Health
2014 General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
2013 Melinda Gates, Philanthropist and Businesswoman
2012 Fareed Zakaria, Journalist and Foreign Policy Author
2011 John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco
2010 Muhammad Yunus, Bangladeshi banker/economist
2009 Oprah Winfrey, Philanthropist
2008 Barbara Kingsolver, Writer
2007 G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., Chair and CEO, General Motors
2006 John Hope Franklin, J. B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History
2005 Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile
2004 Madeleine Albright, Sixty-fourth U.S. Secretary of State
2003 Nannerl O. Keohane, excerpts from Kofi Annan’s speech & comments from Honorary degree recipients
2002 Thomas K. Wolfe, Jr., Journalist
2001 Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Broadcast Journalist
2000 Elizabeth Hanford Dole, Public Servant
1999 Corinne Boggs Roberts (Cokie), Broadcast Journalist
1998 George H. W. Bush, 41st President of U.S.
1997 James Earl Carter, Jr., 39th President of U.S.
1996 Jane Alexander, Chairman, NEA
1995 David Gergen, Former presidential adviser, Prof. In Public Policy
1994 Judy Woodruff, Broadcast Journalist
1993 Bill Bradley, United States Senator, New Jersey
1992 Marian Wright Edelman, lawyer, educator, crusader for children’s rights
1991 George F. Will, syndicated columnist, educator, political commentator
1990 Tom Brokaw, Television Journalist
1989 Stephen Jay Gould, Historian of Science and Professor of Geology, Harvard University
1988 Garry B. Trudeau, Nationally Syndicated Cartoonist
1987 Edward (Ted) Koppel, Broadcast Journalist
Any graduating student may submit a speech to be considered. Speeches are then reviewed and voted upon by a committee of faculty, staff and students.
2020 Sabrina Maciariello
2019 Leah Rosen
2018 Deeksha Malhotra, B.S.
2017 Elena Elsie Elliott, A.B.
2016 Shannon Marie Beckham, A.B.
2015 Andrew Woodall Kragie, A.B.
2014 Jennifer Lenore Sherman, A.B.
2013 Andrew Tower Barnhill, M.Div.
2012 Roshan Kumar Sadanani, B.S.E.
2011 Michael Weston Lefevre, A.B.
2010 David Scott Distenfeld, A.B.
2009 Robert Paul Jones, M.D.
2008 Kyle George Knight, A.B. and Matthew D. Zafirovski, A.B.
2007 David K. Schmidt, A.B.
2006 Yazan R. Kopty, A.B.
2005 George Robert Painter IV, A.B.
2004 Paul William Downs, A.B.
2003 Terry Aaron Schuster, A.B.
2002 Timothy Michael Saintsing, M.P.P.
2001 Daniel Poor Mallory, A.B.
2000 Matha Holly Cooper, A.B.
1999 Samantha L. Wood, B.S.
1998 Cristina Cardoze, A.B.
1997 Edrienne M. Mason, A.B.
1994 Stephanie A. Sheps, A.B.
1992 Jennifer H. Ehlin, A.B.
1990 Mechelle Renee Evans, A.B.
1989 Stephen John Batten, A.B.
1988 David Mitchell Feitel, J.D.
1987 Frederick W. (Chip) Giessler II, B.S.
1986 David M. Allen, J.D.
1985 J. Porter Durham, J.D.
1984 Karen E. Lynch, A.B.
1983 Daniel S. Voll, A.B.
1982 Frederick Robinson, J.D.
1981 Harsha Murthy, A.B.
1980 Hans C. Linnartz, J.D.
1979 Gary W. Jackson, J.D.
1978 Michele Miller, A.B.
1977 Ian Neil Abrams, A.B.
1976 Kevin Moore, B.S.
1975 Marsha Michele McGraw, A.B.
1974 John Mortin Robinson, A.B.
1973 Susan Elizabeth Tifft, A.B.
1972 Clarence Geno Newsome, A.B.
1971 Byron Roscoe Trauger, A.B.
1970 Kenneth Powers Vickery, A.B.