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Honorary Degree Recipients

Geraldine “Geri” Richmond

Geraldine “Geri” RichmondGeraldine “Geri” Richmond is the Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon. Her research using laser spectroscopy and computational methods focuses on understanding environmentally and technologically important processes that occur at water, semiconductor, and mineral surfaces. Richmond is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Association for Women in Science. She has served in leadership roles on many international, national, and state governing and advisory boards, including her current membership on the National Science Board and most recently as U.S. Science Envoy for the Lower Mekong River countries and President of the AAAS. She is the founder and director of COACh, a grassroots organization that has been assisting in the advancement of women scientists around the globe since 1997. Awards for Richmond’s scientific accomplishments include the National Medal of Science, the ACS Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, the ACS Joel Henry Hildebrand Award, and the APS Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics. Awards for education-, outreach-, and science-capacity building efforts include the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; the ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences; and the ACS Charles Lathrop Parsons Award.


Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Dianne Dillon-RidgleyDianne Dillon-Ridgley was born into a family with a legacy of civic and social activism dating back to the period of Reconstruction in the United States. She cut her teeth challenging the barriers of race, gender, human rights, and economic disparity, and embracing sustainability in all its dimensions and parameters domestically and internationally. Originally from Dallas, she is best known as a human rights activist and environmentalist who has advised and served on more than 23 U.S. delegations at the United Nations and on international forums spanning the tenure of three U.S. presidents. By appointment of the White House, she attended the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, followed by the 1997 UN General Assembly Special Session and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in 2002, making her the only person to serve on all three U.S. delegations.

From 1997 to 2014 she served on the board of Interface, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet tiles and global leader in sustainable design. She was also a director for and chair of the Green Mountain Energy Company environmental committee for six years before it was bought by NRG. For more than a dozen years, she contributed her expertise, insights, and boundless energy to the Center for International Environmental Law, including being the first woman to chair its Board of Trustees.

Currently the executive director of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future, she is also on the board of the National Wildlife Federation. She is the former president of Population Connection and was the first woman to chair the River Network board. She was chief executive officer of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization during the transition after founder, Congresswoman Bella Abzug, passed in 1998. For over a decade Dillon-Ridgley represented the World YWCA (Geneva, Switzerland) at UN Headquarters in New York, chairing the Millennium NGO/DPI Summit in 2000, which first introduced the Millennium Development Goals. In 1999 she was appointed to the Oxford University Commission on Sustainable Consumption. She spent 10 years as chair of the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and was recently elected to the board of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, including its Climate Task Force.

In the 1980s she was elected four times to head the Iowa Association of Human Rights Agencies and has spent more than 15 years on the Auburn University School of Human Sciences board as well as on the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business’ School of Management Advisory Council. In 2013 she was elected to the Green Mountain College Board of Trustees, where earlier the institution bestowed upon her an Honorary Doctorate of Laws when she was commencement speaker. She also helped to found “the 100 Grannies for a Livable Future” and Plains Justice, an environmental law center for the Great Plains region focused on ending the use of coal and promoting renewable energy adoption.

Dillon-Ridgley is committed to establishing the “Age of Sustainability,” facilitating the changes needed in our social architecture; democratizing institutions; expanding human rights for gender, ability issues, and racial equity; breaking down barriers; and opening minds as well as doors, creating new language and frames to catalyze society.

Dillon-Ridgley lives in Iowa City, Iowa, and has two adult children—Karima, who graduated from Harvard University, and Dasal, who graduated from Morehouse College.

Honorable Bobby L. Rush

Bobby RushCongressman Bobby L. Rush has represented the 1st Congressional District of Illinois for 23 years. Since first elected, he has focused his attention on issues of importance to the working families of his district. Over the years, he has worked in Congress on a wide range of issues to benefit his constituents. Those issues include economic development, public safety, health care, consumer product safety, and support of small business. The Congressman is also a leader among his colleagues, serving as a member on the Committee on Energy and Commerce; the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy; and a member on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. His unwavering advocacy for his district has meant hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for roads, rails, libraries, museums, municipalities, police departments, hospitals, medical research, schools, and the arts. The Congressman is an honorably discharged Army veteran and an ordained minister. He received a master’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois and a master’s of theology from McCormick Seminary. He was married to his beloved wife, Carolyn, for 36 years and is the father of a blended family with six children and 14 grandchildren.

Greg Wyler

Greg WylerIn 2012, Greg founded OneWeb with the mission of enabling Internet access for everyone. Setting a goal of connecting every unconnected school in the world by 2022, he built a team and designed a satellite onstellation to achieve that vision. After the system was designed, in 2014 OneWeb raised over $500,000,000 USD in its A-Round from investors including Qualcomm, Bharti, Airbus, Coca-Cola, Echostar, Virgin and Intelsat, and $1.2bn USD in its B-Round with lead investor Softbank. Greg continues to lead the architecture and development of the system looking towards its initial activation in 2019.

Prior to OneWeb, in 2007 Greg founded O3b Networks, Ltd. O3b raised approximately 1.3bn USD to design and build a satellite constellation to provide fiber quality backhaul for telecom operators in the most remote
markets around the world. Today, O3b has launched 12 satellites. The system provides the highest capacity and lowest latency combination of any satellites built to date. O3b Networks was acquired by SES Corporation in 2016.

Prior to developing O3b, Greg spent three years developing telecommunications in Africa for very rural locations. He built a local team and connected over 200 schools to the internet, provided the first 3G and fiber to the home connections on the continent and focused heavily on developing local operational skills.

In the 1990’s Greg founded a semiconductor cooling technology company which provided thermal solutions to most of the top PC manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett Packard and eventually gaming consoles such as the XBOX.

After the successful sale of his first company Greg became focused on rural connectivity issues in successively larger endeavors. He has spent much of his time in emerging markets working hands on with technology development and deployment leading to his understanding of the intersection between developed world technologies and emerging market needs.

Greg has been named one of the top 50 influencers of technology and recently received the Arthur C. Clarke award for his space innovation. He lives in Florida, USA with his wife and 5 children. He is also an instrument rated private pilot flying both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.