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Six distinguished individuals will receive honorary degrees from University President Judith Rodin at the 247th Commencement on May 19, including the commencement speaker, Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu.

In addition to Tutu, honorary degrees will be presented to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, sociologist Herbert Gans, diplomat Sadako Ogata, civil rights leader Mamphela Ramphele and author Philip Roth.

University Secretary Leslie Kruhly was excited about this year's recipients.

"We're thrilled with this group," Kruhly said. "It is part of Penn's history and institutional heritage as to who we confer honorary degrees to."

Kruhly added that in learning of their degrees, the recipients "were each very proud and receptive."

The recipients are each distinguished professionals -- if not activists -- in their fields.

Breyer was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1994 by President Clinton and is noted for his dedication to constitutional law.

Herbert Gans is the first graduate of Penn's doctoral program in city planning and has been a leader in the field of urban sociology. Author of The Urban Villagers, in which he argues that ethnicity is partly the product of class dynamics, Gans most recently published the book Making Sense of America.

For the 10 years between 1990 and 2000, Ogata served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She is a scholar-in-residence at the Ford Foundation and serves the Japanese prime minister as a special representative for Afghanistan assistance.

Ramphele boasts an impressive resume -- the South African has been a medical doctor, a civil rights leader in the struggle against apartheid, a community development worker, an academic researcher, an anthropologist, a university administrator as vice chancellor of the University of Cape Town and the first African woman to serve as managing director at the World Bank, where she oversees activities in health, education, social protection and information technology.

Roth, the final honorary degree recipient, has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His works include Goodbye, Columbus, American Pastoral, Operation Shylock, I Married a Communist, Sabbath's Theater and many others.

According to Kruhly, the recipients were selected for being people with "a lifetime record of achievement who have made really profound contributions in their own sphere or arena."

The group, whose birthplaces include South Africa, Germany, Japan, New Jersey and California, was also selected for its diversity.

"We also look for, as much as possible, a strong racial diversity, and we were quite pleased with the diversity of the group this year," Kruhly said.

Breyer and Gans will also be the graduation speakers at the Law School and Graduate School of Fine Arts, respectively.

The honorary degree candidates were chosen by the University Council Honorary Degrees Committee -- composed of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students -- and the Trustees' Honorary Degrees Committee of six to eight members, including Rodin.

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