Penn announced on Tuesday that renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will deliver this year's Commencement, which will take place on May 16.
Burns, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, will give the Commencement speech and receive an honorary doctor of arts degree from Penn. The ceremony, which is set to be held at Franklin Field, will feature the granting of degrees, remarks by University officials, and the awarding of honorary degrees to Burns, former Penn President Amy Gutmann, and several other recipients.
Burns has been nominated for two Academy Awards for his documentaries focused on the history of the Brooklyn Bridge and the history of the Statue of Liberty. His newest documentary "Benjamin Franklin" will premiere in April 2022.
Along with Gutmann and Burns, others who are expected to receive honorary degrees at the 2022 Commencement ceremony include Mary Frances Berry, Atul Gawande, Carla Hayden, George Lewis, Margaret Marshall, and Edward Witten.
Gutmann will be receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree. During her Penn presidency, Gutmann focused on increasing access to higher education for first-generation, low-income students along with engaging locally and globally through the creation of the President's Engagement Prize and investing in local schools.
Marshall will be receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree. She is senior counsel at the Choate Hall & Stewart law firm, and has served as chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. While serving as chief justice, she wrote the groundbreaking opinion that prohibited Massachusetts from denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.
Berry, who receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, has taught at Penn since 1987. She currently serves as the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, and professor emerita of History and Africana Studies. She has written 13 books and has a history in public service throughout multiple presidential administrations.
Hayden, who will receive the same honor as Berry, serves as the 14th Librarian of Congress as the first Black person and the first woman to be appointed to this position. As the former CEO of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library, she is credited with keeping the library open during the civil unrest that resulted from the death of Freddie Gray.
Gawande, who will receive an honorary doctor of sciences degree, is the current head of global health at the United States Agency for International Development. His research has focused on how to improve quality and safety in health care.
Witten, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, will receive the same honor as Gawande for his renowned work in theoretical physics and string theory.
Lewis is a Columbia University professor, composer, musicologist, and trombonist who will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. He is credited for pioneering computer programs that utilize artificial intelligence techniques to improve alongside human musicians.