2022: Honorary Degrees

Rodney Rogers (’94)

Living with extraordinary grace and fortitude after a paralyzing spinal-cord injury, Wake Forest basketball legend and former NBA player Rodney Rogers has inspired hope, courage and determination in others coping with overwhelming challenges. Through philanthropic outreach from the Rodney Rogers Foundation, encouraging motivational speeches across the country and generous support of marginalized communities around Durham, North Carolina, Mr. Rogers is committed to lifting up those around him.

Mr. Rogers was dubbed “the Durham Bull” in high school for his athleticism and power, earning national attention as a standout McDonald’s All-American. Recruited to play basketball at Wake Forest University, he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 1990-91 Freshman of the Year and ACC Player of the Year in 1993. In 1996, his college jersey, No. 54, was retired by Wake Forest. Following three seasons as a Demon Deacon, he was drafted by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and played professional basketball for 12 years, earning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2000. After retiring from a successful NBA career, he returned home to work for Durham’s Public Works Department and coach youth football and basketball. Throughout his athletic career and in the 14 years since his life-changing accident, Mr. Rogers has been admired for his kindness, quiet charisma and humility.

For inspiring others to respond to adversity with grace and perseverance, for modeling Pro Humanitate values through his generous heart and spirit, and for reminding us that each of us has the capacity to lift up others and make the world a better place, Rodney Rogers is recommended for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Kelsey C. Martin

As dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA from 2016 until 2021, preeminent neuroscientist Dr. Kelsey C. Martin advanced a cross-disciplinary approach to education, research and clinical medicine, established programs to promote data and genomic sciences in medical education and spearheaded efforts to foster equity and inclusion at the school. In September 2021, she was appointed director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and Neuroscience Collaborations to oversee transformational brain research.

Dr. Martin excels in neuroscience research, making pivotal discoveries about how experience affects brain connectivity and memory. Her research sheds light on many brain disorders, including the autism spectrum, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. She earned her M.D. and Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale and completed her postdoctoral training with Nobel laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine. After earning her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, Dr. Martin served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. She led disease-prevention efforts and wrote grants to fund measles vaccinations, sparking a passion for serving community through science. Whether she is leading medical students or research colleagues, Dr. Martin is mindful of the humanitarian mission that prompted her and many of her fellow scientists to pursue medicine.

For honoring Pro Humanitate values with efforts that began in the Congo and continue with her work as a researcher and dean, for advancing neuroscience through groundbreaking research and for recognizing that equity in medicine is needed from the classroom to the way it serves society, Dr. Kelsey C. Martin is recommended for the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

As an educator, political commentator and acclaimed author, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. challenge Americans to acknowledge the difficult truths of racism in our country and to aspire to a more just and equitable society. Dr. Glaude applies a historical lens to the African American experience, arguing that we cannot achieve racial equality in the future until we illuminate and analyze the failures of the past.

Dr. Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and the department chair of African American Studies at Princeton University. His most recent book, “Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for our Own,” is a New York Times bestseller and the 2021 winner of the prestigious Stowe Prize. The book is an in-depth study of writer and activist James Baldwin and his profound revelations on American race relations. Dr. Glaude is also a leading scholar of religion, formerly serving as president of the American Academy of Religion.

Dr. Glaude earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, where he is now a university trustee. He holds a master’s degree from Temple University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Princeton University. A respected scholar who is passionate about participatory democracy, justice, and social equity, Dr. Glaude is a frequent columnist for TIME Magazine and regularly appears on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

For his exceptional insight on the present through analysis of the past, for encouraging Americans to engage in open dialogue about racism and collectively seek solutions, and for restoring hope to a historically suppressed population, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is recommended for the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

W. Howard Upchurch Jr. (’85, MBA ’87)

As group president for Innerwear Hanes Brands Inc. for 13 years, W. Howard Upchurch Jr. demonstrated exceptional business acumen through the design and execution of innovative management, marketing, sales and operational strategies. He integrated the innerwear organization, expanded the brand into new modes of distribution and recruited high-performing teams to meet ever-changing business needs.

Mr. Upchurch served Hanes Brands in numerous leadership positions for over three decades. He retired in 2021 after building and sustaining a globally visible brand portfolio that included Hanes, Bali, Maidenform, Playtex and Champion, generating over $3 billion in annual sales. His creative approach to managing the division led to the development of successful new products within mature categories. Mr. Upchurch pioneered retail placement of Hanes Brands into new channels like dollar stores and department stores, and he also established a thriving business partnership with Amazon.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA from Wake Forest, and he continues to embrace the University’s Pro Humanitate mission of using one’s time and talents to serve the community. Mr. Upchurch is a member of the United Way Foundation board, and he currently serves as the resource development chair on the board of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. He is also a member of the Wake Forest University School of Business Board of Visitors.

For using creativity and innovation to transform a major division of a Fortune 500 company, for identifying and nurturing diverse talent to ensure corporate success and for modeling Pro Humanitate principles to alleviate food insecurity in our community, Mr. W. Howard Upchurch Jr. is recommended for the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration.

Loretta Copeland Biggs

Judge Loretta Copeland Biggs, known for her steadfast integrity on the bench and her dedication to protecting the public interest, was nominated in 2014 by President Barack Obama to serve as a United States District judge for the Middle District of North Carolina. Judge Biggs became the
first Black woman to serve on the federal district court in the State of North Carolina, and she is nationally recognized for her significant decisions involving civil rights, including voting rights and a recent challenge to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s use of race in admissions.

In 2018, Judge Biggs invalidated a 1901 state statute that permitted one voter to challenge the residency of hundreds of voters en masse and have those voters stricken from the voter rolls. In a 2019 case, Judge Biggs recognized that the legislation was introduced by lawmakers elected from districts that were ruled unconstitutional in federal court due to gerrymandering. Most recently, Judge Biggs found that UNC’s use of race in its admission decisions is constitutional. This case is currently before the United States Supreme Court.

Prior to serving as a federal district judge, Judge Biggs was the executive assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and a judge on the state district court of Forsyth County, North Carolina. In addition, Judge Biggs previously served as managing partner and shareholder with the law firm of Davis Harwell & Biggs and as a partner with Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler of Winston-Salem. Judge Biggs received her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta and her J.D. from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

She has served on the boards of Wake Forest University School of Law, Winston-Salem State University and Salem College. Further, throughout her career Judge Biggs has received numerous honors and recognitions, including her induction as a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and recognition as one of North Carolina’s Most Outstanding Attorneys in the Super Lawyers publication.

For her tireless efforts to protect the rights of all North Carolina citizens, for her evenhanded and deliberate approach to the most complex judicial decisions and for modeling judicial integrity through fair and impartial decision-making, Judge Loretta Copeland Biggs is recommended for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.