Commencement Honorees

Each year at Commencement, through the conferral of honorary degrees, Denison University recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to their field.

Kelly Brown DouglasThis year, the University has announced The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas ’79, author and nationally recognized theologian, will serve as the virtual keynote speaker at the college’s 180th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 22, 2021. At the ceremony, Douglas will be recognized with the conferring of an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Dr. Douglas is Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, and the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology at Union Theological Seminary. She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral, and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street. She is a member of the Denison Class of 1979.

Read more about Dr. Douglas


In addition, Denison University will award honorary degrees, Doctor of Science, honoris causa, to three key partners from The Ohio State University who have provided critical expertise and support in helping Denison—and the state of Ohio—navigate COVID-19 successfully: Dr. Peter Mohler, Dr. Alison Norris, and Dr. Abigail Norris Turner.

Peter Mohler, Ph.D., has been with The Ohio State University since 2011 and serves as the interim vice president for research at The Ohio State University, chief scientific officer of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, vice dean for research in the Ohio State College of Medicine, and director of the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute.

Dr. Abigail Norris Turner, an infectious disease epidemiologist at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and College of Public Health, has spent nearly 20 years characterizing the behavioral, clinical, and immunological factors associated with the acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Her work, carried out in partnership with government and community collaborators, has explored the health concerns of multiple vulnerable populations in a range of settings in the United States and internationally. She has published more than 100 papers, and her research programs and initiatives at The Ohio State University have been awarded extensive funding support from federal research agencies.

An associate professor of epidemiology at The Ohio State University College of Public Health and College of Medicine, Dr. Alison Norris uses multidisciplinary methods to conduct research at the intersection of public health and medicine to understand how social factors, public policy, and decision-making influence health events and outcomes. Her research has traversed HIV/AIDS among migrant workers in Tanzania, the reproductive health needs of rural Malawians in southeastern Africa, and the impact of Ohio law and policy on women’s health.

Read more about Dr. Peter Mohler, Dr. Alison Norris, and Dr. Abigail Turner Norris

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