Honorary degree recipients to be recognized by the university

As the members of Case Western Reserve University’s Class of 2024 prepare to formally earn their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in commencement ceremonies May 15-19, the university will also award three honorary degrees. These honors recognize the recipients’ lifetime achievements in scholarship, public service and more. A full schedule of events is available online.

Among them is convocation speaker Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google, who is known as a “father of the internet.”

Joining him in receiving this prestigious honor are two awardees with close ties to Case Western Reserve—Dan Polster and Terry Fulmer. The former is an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science and a member of the advisory committee for the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, while the latter is a visiting professor of nursing at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.

For those unable to attend events in person, a livestream of convocation will be available at case.edu/livestream/s1. The undergraduate studies ceremony, as well as most school ceremonies, will also be aired on the livestream website and on the schools’ Facebook pages.

(Want to be even more interactive online? Download CWRU commencement GIFs, Instagram templates, yard signs and more from Webdam, and be sure to tag CWRU in your posts and follow along on social media sites with #CWRUClassOf2024 and #CWRUCommencement2024.)

Read about Cerf in the commencement speaker announcement and learn more about Polster and Fulmer below.

Photo of Terry Fulmer.
Terry Fulmer

Terry Fulmer

Doctor of Nursing, Honoris Causa

After joining Case Western Reserve as a visiting professor of nursing in 1987, Terry Fulmer quickly established herself as a pioneering figure in geriatric nursing. She is renowned for her transformative contributions to elder care and, as president of The John A. Hartford Foundation in New York City, leads initiatives aimed at enhancing the health and well-being of older adults. Fulmer’s visionary leadership has catalyzed the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, driving systemic change to meet the unique needs of aging populations.

With an illustrious career spanning decades, Fulmer has held positions at several prestigious institutions, including serving as distinguished professor and dean of health sciences at Northeastern University and founding dean of the New York University College of Nursing. Her groundbreaking work includes the development of the national Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders program and pioneering research on elder abuse and neglect.

Recognized as the first nurse to serve on the board of the American Geriatrics Society and as president of the Gerontological Society of America, Fulmer has received numerous accolades, including the 2019 Donald P. Kent Award for exemplary leadership in aging and designation as an American Academy of Nursing Living Legend.

Beyond academia, Fulmer’s influence extends to numerous boards and advisory committees, where she continues to shape policy and practice in geriatric healthcare. As vice chair of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Special Medical Advisory Group and a trustee for various organizations, she remains at the forefront of initiatives to improve care for older adults.

A distinguished practitioner and fellow of esteemed academies, including the National Academy

of Medicine, Fulmer’s impact on geriatric nursing is unparalleled. With more than 175 peer-reviewed papers and 23 edited books to her name, her enduring dedication to improving care for older adults continues to inspire healthcare professionals worldwide.

Photo of Dan Polster.
Dan Polster

Dan Polster

Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa

Dan Polster has served as a federal judge since his appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1998, assuming senior status in 2021. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, he succeeded United States District Judge David D. Dowd, Jr. Previously, Polster spent 22 years as a federal prosecutor in Cleveland, first with the Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and then as an assistant U.S. attorney, specializing in fraud and corruption cases.

Beyond his judicial duties, Polster is deeply involved in various legal and community organizations. He supervises the Re-Entry Court in Cleveland and has chaired the Sixth Circuit Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction Committee. He now oversees the Opioid Multidistrict Litigation, a role that reflects his commitment to addressing pressing societal issues.

In addition to his legal work, Polster is actively engaged in the community. He serves on the boards of multiple organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Mandel Foundation, and is involved in educational initiatives at Case Western Reserve University, where he holds an adjunct professor appointment in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the advisory committee for the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program. Polster also serves as an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University School of Law.

Polster is a two-time Harvard Law School graduate and shares his life with his wife, attorney Deborah Coleman, and their three children and four grandchildren. His dedication to justice, education and community service underscores his multifaceted contributions to society.