Wake Forest conferred honorary degrees during its 2021 Commencement ceremony.
Henri Ronald Ford
Dr. Henri Ronald Ford, dean of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is a world-renowned Haitian American pediatric surgeon. In 2010, after a catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Ford returned to his native country to care for trauma victims. He continues to visit Haiti regularly to teach, lead surgical teams and assist in developing a healthcare infrastructure, which the island nation historically has lacked.
Known for his guiding mission to make a difference in the lives of others, Dr. Ford chose to specialize in pediatric surgery because of the profound nature of its impact. Dr. Ford has done groundbreaking research on necrotizing enterocolitis in newborns and has received numerous accolades for his work, including the prestigious Honorary Fellowship to the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Dr. Ford earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from Princeton University and a medical degree from Harvard. Prior to being named dean of the University of Miami’s medical school in 2018, he served as chief of surgery for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and vice dean for medical education at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. As dean, mentor, physician and researcher, Dr. Ford’s passion for pediatric surgery is grounded in the fundamental belief that medical professionals should strive for excellence to benefit the greater good. He frequently asserts that biomedical discoveries should translate directly to improved patient care.
For honoring Pro Humanitate values as a distinguished physician who works tirelessly for the most vulnerable in our society, for showing far-sighted vision in his ongoing efforts to improve the healthcare infrastructure in Haiti and for his lifelong commitment to positively impact the world through his work as a surgeon, researcher and educator, Dr. Henri Ronald Ford is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Science.
Thomas P. Gibbons (’79)
An accomplished and respected leader, Thomas P. Gibbons, CEO at Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, is a driving force behind successful strategic vision and innovation in the banking and financial services industries. Mr. Gibbons’ risk management expertise and broad understanding of the capital markets have helped shape BNY Mellon’s success as a global investment company.
With a career spanning more than 30 years, Mr. Gibbons has helped to prepare and educate the next generation of financial innovators and leaders. He previously served as a vice chairman of BNY Mellon and CEO of Clearing, Markets and Client Management — representing about half of BNY Mellon’s earnings. In that role, he oversaw the Pershing clearing business; the trading, financing, collateral and liquidity management solutions delivered through the Markets business; treasury services and other key areas. He also served as CFO of The Bank of New York prior to its merger with Mellon Financial in 2007.
Mr. Gibbons’ commitment to equal opportunity is reflected by BNY Mellon’s sustained record of initiatives to positively impact society. The company recently received widespread recognition for corporate social responsibility efforts and achievements in diversity and inclusion. These honors include a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality; being named to the CDP’s Climate Change ‘A List’ for efforts to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy; recognition on Bloomberg’s Gender Equity Index for a commitment to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality; and being named one of Fortune Magazine’s 2020 World’s Most Admired Companies.
Mr. Gibbons earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Wake Forest and serves on the Wake Forest School of Business Board of Visitors. For his gifted leadership acumen, his strategic and visionary approach to solving concerns of the financial industry, his service as a global influencer and his dedication to corporate social engagement, Thomas P. Gibbons is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Nathan Orr Hatch
Dr. Nathan Orr Hatch has spent his career in higher education. As a professor and leading scholar of American religious history, he intrigued the minds of young thinkers. From the classroom, he moved into administration, where he cherished the value of teamwork and cultivated an entrepreneurial spirit. And on July 1, 2005, he became the 13th president of Wake Forest University, spending the last 16 years shaping a steadfast vision that has further established Wake Forest as one of the leading private universities in the United States.
With Dr. Hatch as president, Wake Forest has pursued excellence by defining the vision of a collegiate university; attracting new talent and assembling a strong team of leaders; making significant realignments in business and medicine; and undertaking bold initiatives that made standardized tests optional for applicants, developed programs to educate the whole person, and reinvented the 21st-century liberal arts education with personal and career preparedness a key focus. Under Dr. Hatch’s steady and consistent leadership, the University has expanded academic offerings, enhanced diversity and inclusion, deepened its resource base through the historic Wake Will Lead campaign, renewed athletics facilities and positioned character into the fabric of the learning community.
As a community leader, Dr. Hatch has actively extended the University’s commitment to Winston-Salem and better defined its role and responsibility as a community citizen. At Dr. Hatch’s direction, Wake Forest has continued to invest in the Winston-Salem community, developing the Innovation Quarter and launching new biomedical science and engineering programs. Through its partnership with Atrium Health and the creation of the School of Professional Studies, Wake Forest looks to enhance the lives of people throughout the state of North Carolina.
Dr. Hatch also contributed his skills as a leader to organizations across the state, country and within the realm of higher education. His trusted, sage, experienced and pragmatic voice has been one that others seek and follow. With a humble spirit and sense of humor, he has brought focus and patience into conversations about complex issues.
Dr. Hatch is regularly cited as one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America. He received national acclaim for his 1989 book, The Democratization of American Christianity, which has been chosen as one of the two most important books in the study of the history of American religion. In 2014, Dr. Hatch was recognized for his academic excellence when he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
For his exceptional vision as a leader in higher education, for his dedication to upholding tradition while pursuing innovation, for his integrity and strong character, and for his unwavering commitment and service to Wake Forest and its community in the spirit of Pro Humanitate, Nathan Orr Hatch is hereby awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.