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2016: Honorary degrees

Wake Forest conferred four honorary degrees during its 2016 Commencement ceremony.

Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes

The Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes, president and professor of pastoral ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, has studied, taught and ministered in six states across the nation. Wherever a calling has taken him, he has applied an academic’s mind and a servant’s heart.

For Rev. Dr. Barnes, the pursuit of knowledge in general and the love of history in particular are as vital as personal experience. His tenure at Princeton proves it. Mindful of the historical relationship between food and faith, Rev. Dr. Barnes spearheaded Farminary, the food-to-table ministry that Princeton Theological Seminary dedicated eight months ago. Concerned by gender inequality within Christian traditions, he embraced the Seminary’s Center for Theology and Gender. Seeking to encourage young people to start nonprofit organizations, he welcomed the Youth Philanthropy Academy to Princeton.

Rev. Dr. Barnes is a pastor-professor, dedicating equal attention to the practice and scholarship of ministry. His writing and academic work reflect his deep dedication to the theological formation of pastors to lead the church in changing times.

For his unwavering commitments to scholarship and spirituality, for his fearless pursuit of philanthropic innovation and for his leadership across the country and the spectrum of service, Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes is recommended for the degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Vivian H. Burke

When Vivian H. Burke joined the Winston-Salem City Council, Wake Forest University had only been in town for 21 years. Of the more than 2,000 members of the United States Senate in our nation’s history, only nine have served longer than Mrs. Burke has served the Northeast Ward in her beloved hometown.

But longevity and experience do not fully explain the extent of her contributions. Her tenure has been marked by a commitment to give voices to the previously silent; to open the doors of entrepreneurship to all citizens; and to honor and preserve the history of African Americans’ achievements in our city.

The Minority and Women Business Enterprise Program is one of Mrs. Burke’s greatest legacies. Designed to diversify the city’s economy and empower dreams, it has been an overwhelming success. From 2007 to 2012 alone, minority business ownership in the Winston-Salem area grew two and a half times faster than the rest of the business community. The number of firms owned by women skyrocketed by 76 percent – five times the rate of others.

For her diligent work to include the previously marginalized, for her tireless representation of her district and a growing city, and for her visionary approach to problem solving, Vivian H. Burke is recommended for the degree Doctor of Laws.

Dr. Richard I. Levin

For four decades, Dr. Richard Levin has studied the heart as both the instrument of blood flow and the source of our humanity. And he has done it to acclaim from four universities, two countries and countless doctors and their patients.

The holder of four medical patents, Dr. Levin is an expert in preventing and relieving blockages – the physical ones that clog arteries and the institutional, habitual varieties that keep patients from receiving the best possible care.

In 2012, he became president of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to placing compassion, respect and empathy at the forefront of the world’s system of healthcare delivery. The Foundation is well known for spearheading the White Coat Ceremony, a tradition in which medical students recite the Hippocratic Oath before they take their first class.

For his belief that medicine transcends treatment and becomes care, for his service to the people of the United States and Canada, and for his mentorship and education of generations of physicians, Dr. Richard I. Levin is recommended for the degree Doctor of Science.

Michael F. Mahoney (MBA ’96)

Michael F. Mahoney believes the best business leaders succeed because they identify an industry that fits their passions, and they allow those passions to guide them. For him, this process of identification and commitment began in business school.

Since Mr. Mahoney’s graduation with a Master of Business Administration degree in 1996, Wake Forest has proudly watched him merge his greatest professional interests: innovation and the halting of pervasive diseases.

After more than two decades of experience in healthcare, Mr. Mahoney was named chief executive officer of Boston Scientific in 2012. Since then, the company has worked to find innovative solutions to some of the most critical health concerns. Under Mr. Mahoney’s leadership, Boston Scientific has become a major contributor in the effort to mitigate the devastation of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. His company also introduced The Watchman, a safe, surgically implanted device that significantly reduces the risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients.

For the enthusiasm he brings to every venture and adventure, for his belief in business education’s value to the future of industry, and for his commitment to helping those in greatest need, Michael F. Mahoney is recommended for the degree Doctor of Laws.

Dr. Eboo Patel

Dr. Eboo Patel, a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation, is inspired to build bridges by navigating a highly religiously diverse social landscape. His work has reached across divides to find common ground.

While Dr. Patel has an impressive academic background – a Rhodes Scholarship and a doctorate in the sociology of religion – his life before and after Oxford is equally important in shaping how he views the world. A Muslim born in predominantly Hindu India, he grew up in Illinois and became an American citizen. In 2002, he and a Jewish friend founded the Interfaith Youth Core, dedicated to education and leadership across religious traditions.

For more than 15 years, he has collaborated with governments, social sector organizations, and college and universities to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Because of the success of his efforts, Dr. Patel was named to President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council

For his belief that religious diversity and respect are developed, not destined, for his devotion to our nation’s future leaders, and for his commitment to ensuring religious pluralism is more common in reality than in rhetoric, Dr. Eboo Patel is recommended for the degree Doctor of Humane Letters.