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Six Individuals to Get Honorary Degrees

USC senior vice president Dennis Dougherty, philanthropist Andrew Viterbi and director Robert Zemeckis are among the six men who will be lauded at commencement.
In addition to speaker Neil Armstrong, five people – an Academy Award-winning composer, two groundbreaking engineers, a USC senior administrator and a noted film director – will receive honorary degrees at this year’s commencement ceremony.
“As masters of innovation, these men have demonstrated throughout their careers the highest levels of excellence, creativity and vision in their particular fields,” President Steven B. Sample said. “All of them have touched countless lives as a result of their extraordinary talents, and all of them have close relationships with USC. We’re delighted to honor these men for their significant contributions to society and to the advancement of knowledge.”

The honorary degree recipients are:

Dennis F. Dougherty
Doctor of Humane Letters
USC senior vice president for administration Dennis Dougherty has played a major role in the university’s ascent into the top ranks of premier research universities. His university administration career spans nearly five decades. He was comptroller of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Atlantic Human Resources and the University of Pennsylvania before joining USC in 1981 as its vice president and comptroller. In 1990, he assumed his current position, which is responsible for the university’s budget and planning, personnel and human resources and facilities planning and auxiliary services. A guest lecturer in the USC Marshall School of Business and Penn’s Graduate School of Education, Dougherty has been a consultant to both the National Institutes of Health and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation Commission. His wife, Carol, is USC’s senior associate athletic director.

Eberhardt Rechtin
Doctor of Science
USC Professor Emeritus Eberhardt Rechtin was a professor of electrical engineering systems, aerospace engineering and industrial and systems engineering at USC from 1988 to 1994. He helped to found the university’s graduate program in systems architecting and engineering and wrote the discipline’s founding textbook, “Systems Architecting.” A Caltech graduate, Rechtin worked on ballistic missile and communications technology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1948 to 1967. His other publications include “The Art of Systems Architecting,” which he coauthored, and “Systems Architecting of Organizations: Why Eagles Can’t Swim.” Among his many honors and awards are the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Public Service Award and the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement.

Andrew J. Viterbi
Doctor of Science
USC trustee Andrew J. Viterbi created the groundbreaking Viterbi algorithm, first published in 1967; today the algorithm is embedded in hundreds of millions of cell phones worldwide and used in deep-space video transmissions, DNA sequence analysis and speech recognition. He is cofounder of Qualcomm Corp., a digital communications giant; one of the founders of Linkabit Corp.; and a co-developer of the CDMA transmission technology used in most cell phones in North America. The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is named in honor of Viterbi and his wife, Erna, whose $52 million naming gift was the largest for an existing engineering school. While an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he attended USC, where he was awarded one of the university’s first doctorates in electrical engineering. He is currently a professor of electrical engineering at USC, where he holds the Presidential Chair of Engineering. Viterbi is a member of the board of councilors of the Viterbi School.

John Williams
Doctor of Music
The world’s foremost living composer of film music, John Williams has created music for such projects as “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” He served as a longtime conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra and as guest conductor for other major orchestras, including both the USC Thornton Symphony and the USC Trojan Marching Band. He has also written symphonies, themes for Olympic ceremonies and concertos and holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood. Williams studied music at UCLA and the Juilliard School of Music. The recipient of five Academy Awards, he has been nominated 43 times. He has also been awarded 18 Grammys, three Golden Globes, four Emmys and the Olympic Order, the highest honor given by the International Olympic Committee, and was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame.

Robert Zemeckis
Doctor of Fine Arts
A USC alumnus and award-winning director, Robert Zemeckis’ credits include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” the “Back to the Future” trilogy and “Forrest Gump,” for which he received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Directors Guild of America Award. He is also a writer and producer, having joined with two colleagues in 1998 to form the film and television production company ImageMovers. He serves on the board of councilors of the USC School of Cinema-Television and provided the lead gift for the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. Zemeckis attended Northern Illinois University before transferring to USC. He made his directorial debut in 1978 with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Movies he has directed since then include “Cast Away” and “The Polar Express.”

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