KU to present 3 honorary degrees at 2019 Commencement

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

LAWRENCE — An Olympic gold medalist and humanitarian, a former director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the CEO of a global scientific instrumentation company will receive honorary degrees from the University of Kansas.

Billy Mills, Elizabeth Broun and Teruhisa Ueda will each receive an honorary degree at KU’s 147th Commencement on May 19, 2019, in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The three nominations were approved earlier today by the Kansas Board of Regents.

“Billy Mills, Elizabeth Broun and Teruhisa Ueda have made lasting contributions to our world,” said Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. “They embody the mission of the University of Kansas and serve as role models for students, faculty, staff and individuals throughout society who want to make meaningful contributions to the world around them. I am thrilled for the chance to recognize these three exceptional individuals at Commencement, and I know their presence will make the day that much more special for our graduates and their families.”

The degrees to be awarded and the justification for each are as follows:

  • Billy Mills will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his outstanding contributions to improving the lives of Native Americans and commitment to lifting the voices of diverse and underrepresented people.
  • Elizabeth Broun will receive the degree of Doctor of Arts in honor of her extraordinary contributions to the field of American visual history.
  • Teruhisa Ueda will receive the degree of Doctor of Science for his outstanding contributions to science and technology.

KU awards honorary degrees based on nominees’ outstanding scholarship, research, creative activity, service to humanity or other achievements consistent with the academic endeavors of the university. Recipients do not need to be KU alumni, and philanthropic contributions to the university are not considered during the process. The university first began awarding honorary degrees in 2012 and has since presented 16 such degrees, not including the 2019 nominees announced today. For additional information and a list of past degree recipients, visit honorarydegrees.ku.edu.

2019 Honorary Degree Recipient Profiles

Billy Mills

Billy Mills is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mills attended Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas. He attended KU on an athletic scholarship and was a three-time NCAA All-American cross-country runner. During the 1964 Summer Olympics, Mills won an Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters, and he remains the only American to ever win the event. Mills' win in the 10,000 meters is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.

Mills is a co-founder and national spokesperson of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that aims to help American Indian people meet their immediate survival needs while creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem in American Indian youths. In 2014, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his gold medal, Mills started Dreamstarter, a grant program to jump-start the dreams of American Indian youths.

Mills is the recipient of many distinguished athletic and humanitarian awards, including the 2015 President's Council Lifetime Achievement Award, NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award and 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal. He has been inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame and the United States Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Elizabeth Broun

Elizabeth Broun, director emerita of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, grew up in Independence, Kansas, and holds three KU degrees in art history — a bachelor’s, a master’s and a doctorate. From 1976-83, Broun served as curator and subsequently interim director of KU's Spencer Museum of Art, overseeing a dramatic expansion of its collections. In 1983, she began her long tenure at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, beginning as chief curator and assistant director and assuming the position of director in 1989. She retired in 2016.

During her 27-year tenure, Broun conceived and successfully completed the renovation of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery's buildings, all national historic landmarks. Under her direction and with her vision, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has become the premier center for research in the field of American visual history. By dramatically expanding the resources available for research and learning using both in-person and digital access, Broun expanded the appreciation and understanding of our collective cultural history.

On the occasion of her retirement, Broun's outstanding service was recognized by the Smithsonian Regents with the Joseph Henry Medal, the institution's highest award.

Teruhisa Ueda

Teruhisa Ueda is the president and CEO of Shimadzu Corporation, one of the world's largest manufacturers of scientific instrumentation, with 10,000 employees and revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. Ueda is the driving force behind Shimadzu's corporate philosophy, which is to contribute to society through science and technology. Under his leadership, Shimadzu Corporation is dedicated to making significant investments in research and development of new technologies.

Ueda was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. He holds a bachelor's degree in industrial chemistry, a master's degree in engineering and a doctorate in applied life science, all from Kyoto University. During the early 1990s, Ueda studied at KU at the Center for Bioanalytical Research, studying under Distinguished Professors Ted Kuwana and Ralph Adams. Ueda credits his time at KU for his understanding and appreciation of a global mindset, deepening his success in business management and broadening his professional expertise.

Ueda's success illustrates the benefits of being committed to a diversified student experience. Ueda believes students should turn their attention outward, learn about other lifestyles and cultures, and see what they can offer the world. He promotes taking on challenges without fearing failure as well as scientific excellence and responsibility to future generations.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times