University of Massachusetts President William M. Bulger, UMass trustees Grace K. Fey and James J. Karam, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack, and the faculty will confer baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees on 1,255. Additionally, Johnson and three others will receive honorary doctorates. They are William J. LeMessurier, P.E., a civil engineer responsible for the structural engineering of the Citicorp Center Tower in NYC; John W. Rowe, co-CEO and President of Exelon Corporation; and Robert A. Watkins, Jr., a graduate of New Bedford High School and one of the first African-Americans to play for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
Chancellor MacCormack will present her Chancellor’s Distinguished Service award to retiring Bridgewater State College President Adrian Tinsley, who received an honorary doctorate from UMD in 1996. Dr Tinsley was BSC’s first woman president, a distinction shared by Chancellor MacCormack.
Dr. Johnson is one of the nation’s leading communicators of health care information, having given expert insight and advice on ABC News Good Morning America since 1975. He also provides on-air analysis of medical news for World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20.
Recipient of national and Emmy awards for his television features, he was presented the Surgeon General Medallion in 1989 by former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop.
Dr. Johnson holds joint positions in medicine at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is founding editor of the Harvard Medical School Health Letter and co-editor of the book-length collection of those letters. UMD will award him an honorary doctor of science.
William Le Messurier is a professional civil engineer, who is credited with combining daring design with innovative structure in towering buildings that distinguish the skylines of America’s great cities, Boston and its Federal Reserve Bank among them. UMD will award him an honorary doctor of engineering.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor of his profession, in 1978. His greatest distinctions are, however, that he took full responsibility for the near failure of the bracing system in the Citicorp Center tower, and put his career and reputation on the line to correct the problem and prevent a catastrophic collapse of the building. His ethical leadership was reported in The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis, published in the May 29, 1995 issue of The New Yorker magazine.
John W. Rowe is president and CEO of one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, with approximately 5 million customers and more than $12 billion in annual revenues. Prior to the formation of Exelon Corp., which was created in October 2000 through merger of Unicorn Corp. and PECO Energy, he was the chief executive of Unicom and Commonwealth Edison Co., and before that the New England Electric System (NEES). Under his leadership, NEES adopted a progressive response to environmental concerns. NEES received The President’s Environmental and Conservation Challenge Award for its conservation efforts. UMD will award him an honorary doctor of business administration.
Robert A. Watkins, Jr., a retired marketing and sales vice president of John E. Seagram and Sons, had a distinguished career on the gridiron and as a business executive. He continues to lead by example in civic and charitable work, scholarship, and community involvement. UMD will award him an honorary doctor of humane letters.
A running back for Ohio State, he was a member of the 1954 Buckeye team that had an undefeated season and then won the Rose Bowl national championship. When he was drafted by the Chicago Bears, he became one of the first African Americans to play for that legendary NFL team. He recently served as chairperson of the UMass Dartmouth Blue Ribbon Commission on Athletics.
Mr. Watkins is recognized as a scholar in the works of Scottish poet Robert Burns, has spoken on the poet at international meetings, and is a lifetime member of the Irvine Burns Club in Scotland. He is also a student of American history with a special emphasis on the Civil War and the period between 1855 and 1877.
He is a business motivational speaker, lecturer, author of sales training programs and articles, and is active in community affairs, especially in scholarship fundraising.
UMass Dartmouth, established in 1895, comprises the colleges of arts and sciences, business, engineering, nursing, visual and performing arts, and the graduate School for Marine Sciences and Technology.