University to award four honorary degrees

Case Western Reserve University will award honorary degrees to four individuals at its 2012 commencement ceremonies. This year’s recipients are Gmail inventor and venture capitalist Paul Buchheit, public health leader Ciro de Quadros, Grammy-award winner Aretha Franklin and international law expert Brenda J. Hollis.

Alumnus Paul Buchheit (CWR ’98; GRS ’98, computer engineering) returns to his alma mater as this year’s commencement speaker. Gmail, the free email service he developed, launched in 2004 and now boasts more than 350 million registered users. One of Google’s first employees, he’s now a partner at Y Combinator, a venture capital firm that provides funding, advice and networking opportunities to promising startups.

Ciro de Quadros is executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Before joining the institute in 2003, he was director of the Division of Vaccines and Immunization at the Pan American Health Organization and a chief epidemiologist at the World Health Organization. He is a leader in the development of successful surveillance and containment strategies for the eradication of smallpox worldwide, and has directed successful polio and measles eradication programs in the Americas.

Grammy-winning recording artist Aretha Franklin has contributed enormously to popular music and American culture throughout her 40-year career. She is the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and boasts more Top-40 singles than any other female performer. In addition to the impact she has made on music, Franklin also has been a highly visible supporter of the civil rights movement.

Starting in 2007, Brenda J. Hollis led the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor through the United Nations’ backed Special Court for Sierra Leone. This spring Taylor was convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war. Prior to her work in Sierra Leone, Hollis has provided expertise and training for international courts and tribunals around the world, including in Columbia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Iraq and Cambodia.

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

Franklin accepted her degree when she was honored by the American Music Masters Series in November. The other recipients will receive their degrees at Case Western Reserve’s commencement convocation on Sunday, May 20.