University to award four honorary degrees, approximately 2,100 diplomas during 2016 commencement

Case Western Reserve University will award honorary degrees to four individuals at its 2016 commencement address this Sunday, May 15. The four revered professionals will join approximately 2,100 students who will receive their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees throughout the day.

This year’s honorary degree recipients, including two alumni, are physicist Richard Garwin (CIT ’47), philanthropist Norma Lerner, international humanitarian Rosemary McCarney (MGT ’82) and real estate executive Albert Ratner. Last fall, the university also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters to legendary singer-songwriter-producer Smokey Robinson.

The university grants honorary degrees at spring commencement each year to recognize excellence in human endeavor, including scholarship, public service and the performing arts.

Richard Lawrence Garwin, Honorary Doctor of Science

Richard Garwin After earning his PhD in physics in 1949 under the supervision of physicist Enrico Fermi, Richard Garwin (CIT ’47) began work in technology and policy for the United States government. Throughout his lengthy career, he’s worked in technological innovation and management for IBM; performed physics research in the IBM Research Division and at the University of Chicago; been awarded 47 patents; and had more than 500 publications. Garwin has been named to the President’s Science Advisory Committee under three U.S. presidents, was elected into the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, and received the Enrico Fermi Award and National Medal of Science from the U.S. Government. He is one of three surviving “Founders of National Reconnaissance,” of 10 named in 2000 by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Norma Lerner, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Norma LernerNorma Lerner is a trustee emeritus for Case Western Reserve. She serves on the board of directors of Cleveland Clinic and, along with her late husband, Al, is co-founder of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. She also is a trustee and honorary chair of the board of directors for the Musical Arts Association of the Cleveland Orchestra and a founding member of the Marine Corps Heritage Museum. In 2012, Lerner received Case Western Reserve’s President’s Award for Visionary Achievement, which recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves through exceptional philanthropic service to the university, the world and humanity.

Rosemary McCarney, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Rosemary McCarneyYears before becoming Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Rosemary McCarney (MGT ’82) spent one semester at Case Western Reserve University School of Law as its first foreign exchange student and later returned to CWRU to earn an MBA. A humanitarian and expert in international economic development, McCarney has made an international impact through her work in more than 100 countries, providing service to private, non-profit and community organizations dedicated to human rights and the health and rights of women and children in developing countries. Queen Elizabeth awarded her a Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.

Albert B. Ratner, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Albert B. RatnerAlbert B. Ratner is co-chairman emeritus of the board of Forest City Realty Trust

Inc., the commercial and residential real estate firm he founded in 1951. Ratner also serves on the boards of directors of the Governor’s Executive Workforce, QED, and Global Cleveland, on the advisory board of the Ginn Academy and is a past board chairman and lifetime trustee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Among the countless awards he has received are the Agora Award from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the 2005 Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

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 and information on parking, shuttles and accommodations can be found at