Wake Forest conferred four honorary degrees during its 2018 Commencement ceremony.
Timothy Michael Dolan
His Eminence, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan was named archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and is perhaps the most visible and influential Catholic leader in the country. Known for his charismatic personality and commitment to Catholic values, Cardinal Dolan was elected president of the United Conference of Catholic Priests in 2010 and appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict in 2012. His meteoric rise in the Roman Catholic Church suggests a confidence among the hierarchy in Cardinal Dolan’s unique ability to promote Catholic principles in an affirming and relatable way.
With his engaging demeanor, his preference for conversation over confrontation, and his optimistic and clear-eyed vision for the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dolan has helped ignite a renewed passion in America’s Catholic population, especially among its youth. He views his primary role as a pastor, but is widely recognized as a leading scholar in church history. Cardinal Dolan received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College and a doctorate in American church history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
For his exceptional ability to handle contentious issues with clarity and grace, for his work toward restoring hope to a fractured Catholic Church and for modeling Pro Humanitate principles by embracing the universal truths that connect us as human beings, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Carla Ann Harris
In 2013, Carla Ann Harris achieved national prominence when she was appointed chair of the National Women’s Business Council by President Barack Obama. Ms. Harris was already a recognized leader in the financial industry, with a stellar 30-year career on Wall Street that has led to her current position as vice chairman, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley. The recipient of numerous honors and accolades, Ms. Harris was named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America” and to Essence Magazine’s list of the “Top 50 Women Who Are Shaping the World.”
Ms. Harris has a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, but her exceptional talents extend well beyond finance. She is the author of two books and an engaging public speaker who offers “Carla’s Pearls of Wisdom,” her advice for navigating the realities of the workplace. Her voice touches the world through music as well. Ms. Harris is an accomplished gospel singer with three albums, and her solo concerts have sold out Carnegie Hall five times. Her commitment to giving back is felt by those in her community. She provides educational opportunity through the Carla Harris Scholarship and has held key leadership positions with philanthropic organizations like the Morgan Stanley Foundation, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity and the Food Bank for New York City.
For inspiring others to thrive by remaining true to their authentic selves, for reminding us that a life well-lived explores avenues beyond one’s profession and for embracing the spirit of Pro Humanitate by using her financial and musical talents to improve the world around her, Carla Ann Harris is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Daniel R. Porterfield
Daniel R. Porterfield, 15th president of Franklin & Marshall College, has been a driving force in the national movement to open college doors to high-achieving, low-income students. In June, he will continue his efforts to elevate higher education through access and opportunity when he becomes president of the prestigious Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C.
President Porterfield’s visionary strategic plan at Franklin & Marshall tripled the percentage of entering low-income students and dramatically increased the college’s academic profile, diversity and selectivity. His unique talent strategy initiative is grounded in an innovative recruiting approach that identifies low-income academic standouts with the help of K-12 educational partners. Promising students are exposed to “college knowledge” through pre-enrollment immersion opportunities and offered significant financial aid. Dr. Porterfield’s vision helped inspire the American Talent Initiative, a network of 100 elite institutions, including Wake Forest, that strives to eliminate poverty as a barrier to education and collectively strengthen America’s future. A former Rhodes Scholar and recipient of the 2016 White House Champion of Change Award, Dr. Porterfield earned bachelor’s degrees from Georgetown University and Oxford and holds a doctorate from The City University of New York.
For recognizing that higher education’s collective student body should reflect the social and economic diversity of the American mosaic, for embracing holistic student development inherent in the ideals of a liberal arts education and for modeling values-driven leadership by promoting a national dialogue on the benefits of inclusivity and access in higher education, Dr. Daniel R. Porterfield is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Forrest Faison, III (’80)
As the Navy’s Surgeon General since 2015, Vice Admiral C. Forrest Faison, III serves as chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The top Navy physician, he oversees a global network of 63,000 personnel who provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans. The gravity and magnitude of Vice Admiral Faison’s responsibility are immense; his office’s duty is to protect, maintain and restore the health of American service members who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country.
With an unprecedented combat survival rate of 97 percent coming out of the nation’s longest war, the bar is set high for medical care in future conflicts. With forward-thinking leadership, Vice Admiral Faison incorporates cutting-edge health care technology as he prepares the next generation of physicians to offer quality medical care to our nation’s finest. A graduate of Wake Forest University with a medical degree from Uniformed Services University, Vice Admiral Faison is board certified in pediatrics and has published widely on neurodevelopmental outcomes of premature infants.
For ensuring that America’s military and their families receive an unmatched level of health care, for his commitment to holding his corpsmen to the highest professional and ethical standards and for showing far-sighted vision by fortifying Navy Medicine now and for years to come, C. Forrest Faison, III is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Science.
When Lawrence Joel was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1967 for heroism, it was monumental. He was the first medic to receive the award for service in Vietnam; the first living African-American to receive the honor since the Spanish-American War; the first enlisted man to receive the medal from President Lyndon Johnson; and the first, and still the only, native of Winston-Salem to receive the nation’s highest combat service award.
As an Army medic, Joel distinguished himself in battle on November 8, 1965, when his Army paratrooper squad was ambushed by Viet Cong forces in a harrowing conflict that killed or wounded nearly every American in the unit. Facing hostile fire without regard to his personal safety, and despite being shot twice in the leg, he bandaged wounds and inserted IVs for nearly 24 hours. Joel is credited with saving 13 lives that day. President Johnson spoke of Joel’s very special kind of courage, the unarmed heroism of compassion and service to others. His hero status seemed to transcend the racial divisiveness of the 1960s. Upon his return, Winston-Salem’s mayor declared Lawrence Joel Day, a celebration marked by a downtown parade with 30,000 citizens lining the streets and more than 2,000 military servicemen marching by to salute him. Joel passed away in 1984 and his name has been honored at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem and at various sites across the country.
For serving as an example of bravery and selflessness under the most adverse conditions, for demonstrating humility in accepting the Medal of Honor on behalf of those who lost their lives and for uniting the Winston-Salem community behind a collective respect for courage, perseverance and resourcefulness, Lawrence Joel is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Laws, presented posthumously.
Thomas L. Sager (JD ’76)
Thomas L. Sager, a son of Wake Forest Law School and the former legal counsel of DuPont, developed the industry standard for diversity in the legal profession. Mr. Sager spent the early part of his professional life as a lawyer in a large global company observing what was good, bad and needed improvement. His conclusions revolutionized the offices of general counsel; one of the most important conclusions being that boardrooms needed more diversity.
When he became senior vice president and general counsel of DuPont, he created the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). In recognition of his work changing the complexion of corporate boardrooms, the MCCA established the Thomas L. Sager Award, presented annually to a corporate law department and law firm for their commitment to diversity. His work and restructuring of the counsel’s office, known officially as the DuPont Legal Model and unofficially as the Thomas Sager Model, is now the industry benchmark. The Burton Foundation, in association with the Library of Congress, rewards excellence in the legal profession and honored Mr. Sager as a prestigious Legends of the Law. The American Lawyers Association acknowledged his years of work with its Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lawyers of Color Association presented him with its Legacy Award.
For his commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard; for his early, powerful and influential work in making the legal profession more diverse; and for his decades of demonstrating excellence in the practice of law, Thomas L. Sager is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Laws.