Case Western Reserve to award degrees to undergraduates, multiple graduate/professional schools and honorary doctorate recipients

The past 15 months have been filled with almost unimaginable changes. Members of the Class of 2021 have completed coursework in unconventional settings, found innovative ways to help those affected by COVID-19, and worked to keep themselves and the community safe amid the pandemic—all while maintaining rigorous course loads, landing internships and other hands-on experiences, and giving back in myriad ways. This weekend, we will celebrate their perseverance, dedication and remarkable adaptability with commencement ceremonies across three days (the School of Medicine and School of Law held separate ceremonies two weeks ago).

A pre-recorded virtual convocation ceremony will be released for viewing on Sunday, May 30, at 8 a.m. featuring messages from Interim President Scott Cowen, reflections from convocation speaker, former New Orleans mayor Marc H. Morial, and Alumni Association President Aishwarya Arjunan (CWR ’10), the presentation of honorary degrees, and the official degree conferrals.

Schedule of events

This year, approximately 1,725 graduates will participate in the in-person, outdoor diploma ceremonies, while others celebrate at home with their families and friends and watch via livestream (available at or on school/university Facebook pages). Diploma ceremonies will be held rain or shine, though in the event of severe weather, ceremonies may be delayed. Attendees are encouraged to bring umbrellas and dress for the weather. (Stay tuned to the university and school social media accounts for updates.)

Ceremonies are scheduled to take place:

  • Friday, May 28
    • 9:30 a.m.: School of Dental Medicine
    • 12:30 p.m.: School of Graduate Studies
  • Saturday, May 29
    • 9:30 a.m.: Weatherhead School of Management (graduate and professional degrees) 
    • 12:30 p.m.: Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
    • 3:30 p.m.: Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing (graduate and professional degrees)
  • Sunday, May 30—Undergraduate Studies Diploma Ceremonies
    • 9:30 a.m.: Bachelor’s degrees from the College of Arts and Sciences
    • 1 p.m.: Bachelor’s degrees from Case School of Engineering, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and Weatherhead School of Management

Watch webcasts of convocation and the ceremonies.

Honorary degree recipients

In addition to those earning graduate and undergraduate degrees, Case Western Reserve will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the following individuals with honorary degrees. 

Kamoya Kimeu – Doctor of Science

Paleontologist Kamoya Kimeu, National Museums of Kenya curator of prehistoric sites in Kenya, is a leading figure in origins science. His discoveries have inspired a deeper understanding of humanity’s development. 

Among his numerous fossil discoveries, Kimeu is especially noted for findings that have provided important insights into human ancestry. In Tanzania, his discovery of the Peninj Mandible of Paranthropus boisei shed light on previously unknown hominin diversity and debunked the idea that only one hominin species could exist at the same time in a single location. Another finding, a 195,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull, proved to be the earliest-known specimen of the human species.

For his contributions to society, National Geographic bestowed its highest honor, the prestigious LaGorce medal, to Kimeu. Then-President Ronald Reagan presented the award to him in 1985. Kimeu is so regarded in the paleontological field, he is the namesake for two fossil primates.

Harvey Lodish – Doctor of Science

Globally renowned molecular and cell biologist Harvey Lodish has had a distinguished career as a professor at MIT and founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Lodish is founder and a scientific advisory board member of several public biotech companies and lead author of the Molecular Cell Biology textbook.

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Science, Lodish’s leadership and expertise has been called upon by numerous organizations. He has held roles as a member on the Board of Trustees of Boston Children’s Hospital and chair of the Board Research Committee, former president of the American Society for Cell Biology and founding chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Lodish also has been a dedicated supporter of early-career researchers, having mentored more than 200 PhDs and postdoctoral fellows—including Nobel Prize and Lasker Award winners.

Marc H. Morial – Doctor of Humane Letters

During his two terms as mayor of New Orleans (1994–2002), Marc H. Morial had a transformative effect on the city, reducing crime by 60% and unemployment by 50%. He infused $2 billion into capital improvement projects, sought to build upon the city’s tourism industry and drove up home ownership rates.

Following his term as mayor, Morial went on to lead the National Urban League (NUL) as president and CEO—roles he holds to this day. Morial is credited with creating opportunities for job training, youth development, housing and entrepreneurship.

His leadership of NUL—the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization—has received widespread recognition, and has led to Morial being named one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine and one of the top 50 Nonprofit Executives by The NonProfit Times.

Additional details

No matter where you’ll be for commencement this year, share your photos on social media using #CWRUGrad2021. Want to include special GIFs, Facebook frames and Instagram templates in your posts? Check out the digital assets that are available.

Find out more about CWRU’s 2021 commencement celebration at