Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Commencement 2012 Honorees

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, well known for his government, business and philanthropic leadership, will deliver Franklin & Marshall College's Commencement address on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

During the 10 a.m. ceremony, F&M will bestow honorary degrees on Mayor Bloomberg and three other individuals who have excelled in their fields:

  • 1975 alumna Wanda M. Austin, president and CEO of The Aerospace Corp.;
  • Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in the field of virtual reality; and
  • Lynn Nottage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and recipient of a 2007 MacArthur Fellowship, informally known as a "genius grant."

Michael R. Bloomberg

  • Michael Bloomberg

Michael R. Bloomberg is the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. He was first elected in November 2001, two months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 that claimed thousands of lives in the city. Since taking office, Mayor Bloomberg and his team have enacted policies that helped reduce crime by more than 30 percent, raised high school graduation rates by 37 percent, and added more than 700 acres of new parkland.

Mayor Bloomberg was born in Boston and raised in Medford, Mass. He received his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. He joined Wall Street investment bank Salomon Brothers in 1966 and, in 1981, launched financial news and information service Bloomberg LP. Today, it has more than 310,000 subscribers and employs more than 15,000 people worldwide.

Mayor Bloomberg has committed significant resources to philanthropic causes through Bloomberg Philanthropies, which works primarily to advance five areas globally: public health, the environment, government innovation, education and the arts. To date, he has donated more than $2 billion to a variety of causes and organizations.

Wanda M. Austin '75

  • wanda austin '75

Wanda M. Austin '75 is president and CEO of The Aerospace Corp., an independent, nonprofit organization that supports the scientific planning of national security space programs for the U.S. government. The firm employs 4,000 worldwide.

Austin earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from F&M, a master's degree in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in systems engineering from the University of Southern California.

She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. She was named Black Engineer of the Year in 2009. That same year she served on the White House-commissioned U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. She was appointed to the Defense Science Board in 2010 and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.

Jaron Lanier

  • jaron lanier

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist best known for his pioneering work in the field of virtual reality. He left gaming company Atari in 1985 to co-found VPL Research Inc., the first company to market virtual reality products. Sun Microsystems acquired VPL in 1999.

Lanier was chief scientist of Advanced Network and Services, a nonprofit that funds the advancement of education through technology, from 1997 to 2001 and a visiting scholar at Silicon Graphics from 2001 to 2004. He was scholar at large at Microsoft Research, working on the Kinect device for Xbox 360 from 2006 to 2009. Currently he holds the position of partner architect at Microsoft Research.

Lanier is the author of the international bestseller You Are Not a Gadget (2010), a critique of Web 2.0, a second generation of the World Wide Web responding to people's desires to collaborate and share information online. In 2010 Time Magazine named Lanier to its annual list of the world's 100 most influential people. Lanier also composes classical music and collects rare instruments.

Lynn Nottage

  • lynn nottage

Lynn Nottage is an American playwright whose work often centers on the lives of women of African descent, African Americans and women.

She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She received a Pulitzer Prize for Ruined, a play focusing on the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Her most recent play, By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, is loosely based on groundbreaking African-American actress Theresa Harris, who appeared in the 1933 Barbara Stanwyck movie Baby Face. The play completed a three-week run May 29 at New York's Second Stage Theatre, off Broadway.

Among her many honors are the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award (2010), a MacArthur Fellowship, or "genius grant" (2007), a Lucille Lortel Foundation Fellowship (2007), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005) and the PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama (2004). She is a graduate of Brown University and Yale School of Drama, where she is a lecturer in playwriting.