Case Western Reserve University will celebrate the lifetime achievements of a pioneer in health information and an acclaimed cardiovascular and genetics researcher, and award undergraduate and advance degrees to about 2,100 students during 2017 commencement Sunday, May 21.

Health-information innovator Patricia Brennan and internationally acclaimed doctor and scientist Victor Dzau will receive honorary degrees—granted at spring commencement each year to recognize excellence in human endeavor, including scholarship, public service and the performing arts.

Patricia Flatley Brennan, Honorary Doctor of Science

Photo of Patricia Flatley BrennanPatricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD, directs the National Library of Medicine (NLM)—the world’s largest biomedical library and producer of digital information services used by scientists, health professionals and members of the public worldwide. She became director last August.
In January 2017, with the transition of the trans-NIH data science initiatives to NLM, as recommended by the NLM Working Group Report to the NIH Director, Brennan also became NIH Interim Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS). After seven years of clinical practice in both critical-care and psychiatric nursing, Brennan held several academic positions at Marquette University, Case Western Reserve and, most recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Lillian L. Moehlman Bascom Professor at the School of Nursing and College of Engineering.

A pioneer in creating information systems for patients, Brennan developed ComputerLink, an electronic network to reduce isolation and improve self-care for patients at home. She also directed HeartCare, a web-based information and communication service that helps at-home cardiac patients recover faster and with fewer symptoms, and Project HealthDesign, an initiative to stimulate innovation in personal health records.

A past president of the American Medical Informatics Association, Brennan was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (now the National Academy of Medicine) in 2001. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the American College of Medical Informatics and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Victor Dzau, Honorary Doctor of Science

Photo of Victor DzauVictor Dzau, MD, is president of the National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, and serves as vice chair of the National Research Council. He also is chancellor emeritus and the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University, and past president and CEO of the Duke University Health System.

Previously, Dzau was the Hersey Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine and chairman of medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Falk Cardiovascular Research Center at Stanford University.

Dzau is an internationally acclaimed leader and scientist, through his seminal research in cardiovascular medicine and genetics. He advises governments, corporations and universities worldwide, serves on several international committees and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Among his many honors and recognitions are the Gustav Nylin Medal from the Swedish Royal College of Medicine, the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Heart Association, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Poulzer Prize of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Henry Freisen International Prize. 

Members of the campus community may submit honorary degree nominations at any time. For a description of qualifications visit

Commencement convocation begins at 9:30 a.m. Following the event—at which degrees officially are conferred for all undergraduate and graduate/professional students—each school and college will host a separate diploma ceremony. All students receiving bachelor’s degrees, regardless of major, will be presented with their diplomas at the undergraduate studies diploma ceremony.
A full schedule of ceremonies and information on parking, shuttles and accommodations can be found at