Honorary Degree Recipients 2015

2015 Honorary Degree Recipients

Joyce BandaDr. Joyce Banda
Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony Speaker

Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda was the first female to be elected to the Presidency of her country, The Republic of Malawi, and only the second female elected President in Africa. Voted as Africa's most powerful woman by Forbes Magazine for two years and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world, Her Excellency is a champion for the rights of women, children, and the disabled and other marginalized groups. In 2014, CNN named President Banda as the most inspirational female politician of the year.

Before becoming President, Dr. Banda served as a Member of Parliament; Minister of Gender and Child Welfare; and Foreign Minister and Vice President of the Republic of Malawi. While serving as Minister of Gender and Child Welfare, Dr. Banda championed the enactment of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Bill in 2006, which provides a legal framework for the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, a cause for which she has spent her professional life championing.

Praised by Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her innovative reforms in an impoverished country, as President, Dr. Banda assisted more than 400,000 women to become financially independent through innovative programs such as saving circles: business training and educational endeavors.

President Banda founded the Joyce Banda Foundation which has provided educational programs for over one million youth through initiatives focusing on sports and HIV/AIDS education; built health clinics which provide care for 15,000 orphans. The Foundation also created the "One Goat, and One Cow" per family program to help stem the tide of rural flight.

Lawrence O'DonnellMr. Lawrence O'Donnell
Graduate Commencement Ceremony Speaker

Lawrence O'Donnell is an education advocate who uses his celebrity on behalf of children. O'Donnell, along with UNICEF, started the K.I.N.D. campaign (Kids in Need of Desks) to provide tens of thousands of desks to hundreds of schools in Malawi. For O'Donnell, "Education is a child's passport to a brighter future." His campaign to focus on the education of girls in Malawi is providing thousands of girls with the chance for independence and a healthier life.

O'Donnell hosts the popular television show "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell." Each night, he relies on his extraordinary background in politics, entertainment and news, to provide the last word on the biggest issues and most compelling stories of the day.

He is an Emmy Award-winning executive producer and writer for the NBC series "The West Wing" and creator and executive producer of the NBC series, "Mister Sterling."

From 1989-1992, O'Donnell served as Senior Advisor to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1992, he was Chief of Staff to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. From 1993-1995, he was the Chief of Staff to the Senate Finance Committee.

A writer prior to entering politics and government, O'Donnell published the book Deadly Force, which was adapted as a CBS movie in 1986. He has written essays and articles for several publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, and People. He has appeared on many television news programs including "Nightline," "Charlie Rose" and "NBC News."

Tiziana FilippiniDr. Tiziana Filippini
Honorary Degree Recipient

Dr. Tiziana Filippini has dedicated her life's work to the education of young children, teachers and families in her home community of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and throughout the world. Since 1978, Dr. Filippini has served as a pedagogista for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia. She is a member of the Pedagogical Coordinating Team of the Instituzione - Preschools and Infant Toddler Centers of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia. Her groundbreaking work on documentation has inspired researchers and teachers here at Wheelock, in the United States and globally.

From 1984 to 2010, Dr. Filippini coordinated the Documentation and Education Research Center of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia. She was a referent for the international exhibition, "The Hundred Languages of Children," and now she is one of the curators of the new version of the exhibit, "The Wonder of Learning - The Hundred Languages of Children." Dr. Filippini also coordinates the professional development activities for teachers and atelieristi for the municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools.

Beginning in 2002, Wheelock faculty have had the good fortune to work with Dr. Filippini as part of the Making Learning Visible research, which included teachers and faculty from the Boston area. Dr. Filippini encouraged and supported the creation of Wheelock's Documentation Studio to share the tool of documentation to educators in Boston and New England.

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