Honorary Degrees

Each year Haverford College awards up to four honorary degrees to men and women who have distinguished themselves in letters, the sciences, or the arts.

Many recipients are noted for their contributions to the overall betterment of humankind and/or Haverford College. The following are Honorary Degree Recipients for 2014.

Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet and scholar of African American culture. Her book of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.  Alexander’s other works include The Venus HottentotBody of LifeAntebellum Dream Book and The Black Interior, a collection of essays on African American culture.  In 2008, Alexander was selected to compose and then recite her poem, “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  She is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship “for work that contributes to improving race relations in American Society. Alexander is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies & Professor of American Studies and English at Yale University.


 Robert J. Birgeneau

Robert J. Birgeneau

Robert Birgeneau has been a champion of diversity and accessibility in higher education. A distinguished physicist, he taught briefly at Yale and Oxford, before working at Bell Labs.  In 1975, he began a 25-year teaching career at MIT, where he also served as Dean of the School of Science. Birgeneau was president of the University of Toronto, 2000-2004 and chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, 2004-2013.  As Berkeley’s ninth chancellor, Birgeneau was a champion for enhancing educational access for middle class families and undocumented students, the reform of Proposition 13 to increase funding for social services and higher education, as well as affirmative action.  Currently, Birgeneau is the leader of the Lincoln Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which advocates for public higher education.  His ongoing physics research is primarily concerned with the phases and phase transition behavior of novel states of matter.


 William G. Bowen

William G. Bowen

William G. Bowen is one of the nation’s leading figures in higher education. The former president the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University, Bowen is the author of over 20 books on higher education and the recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal.  Bowen’s career in academia began at Princeton, where he taught economics.  He served as Princeton’s provost until 1972 when he became president.  From 1988 to 2004, Bowen served as the President of the Mellon Foundation.  Under his leadership the Foundation’s activities increased dramatically with attention to research doctoral education, collegiate admissions, independent research libraries, and charitable nonprofits.  Bowen’s interest in technology and scholarship led to the creation of JSTOR, ARTstor, and Ithaka Harbors, Inc. on whose board he currently serves.


Fred Krupp

Fred Krupp

Through his innovative work in using market forces to advance environmental goals, Fred Krupp has become a leading advocate for environmental protection.  Over his 29 years of leadership of the Environmental Defense Fund, that organization has grown from a small nonprofit to an international leader in environmental advocacy.  Krupp’s strategic partnership with major companies has led to the removal of millions of pounds of packing waste and the improvement of energy efficiency across the global retail supply chain, and to the creation the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which calls for stricter limits on global warming pollution. Krupp’s market-based acid rain reduction plan was included in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the U.S. proposal to achieve least-cost greenhouse gas reductions in the Kyoto Protocol. Krupp has been called on by the federal government under Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama to advise on numerous environmental issues from shale gas production to trade policy.