2015 Honorary Degrees

Honorary Doctor of Science and College of Liberal Arts Commencement Speaker

Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco

Marine ecologist and environmental scientist

Dr. Jane Lubchenco is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist with expertise in oceans, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. In 2008 she was nominated by President Obama to be part of his “Science Team." In 2009 she became the first woman to be appointed Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, a role she served until 2013.

She received her B.A. in biology from Colorado College, her M.S. in zoology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in ecology from Harvard University. Her academic career as a professor began at Harvard University (1975-1977) and continued at Oregon State University (1977-2009) until her appointment as NOAA administrator.

Dr. Lubchenco is one of the “most highly-cited” ecologists in the world, and eight of her publications are recognized as “Science Citation Classics.” She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the American Philosophical Society; the Royal Society; and the Academies of Science for the Developing World, for Europe, and for Chile.

Dr. Lubchenco has received numerous awards including a MacArthur “genius” award. She was named 2010 Newsmaker of the Year by the scientific journal "Nature." Her research interests include interactions between the environment and human well-being, biodiversity, climate change, and sustainable use of oceans and the planet.

After resigning from NOAA, she was the Mimi and Peter Haas Distinguished Visitor in Public Service at Stanford University. In June 2013, she returned to Oregon State University where she is now the Distinguished University Professor and Adviser in Marine Studies. In December 2014, Dr. Lubchenco was one of four scientists selected to serve as a U.S. Science Envoy, a role which will have her engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to develop partnerships, improve collaboration, and forge relationships between other nations and the United States to stimulate increased scientific cooperation and foster economic prosperity.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

William Swindells

William Swindells

Business and community leader

William Swindells is one of Oregon’s most influential business and community leaders. He has served on Willamette's Board of Trustees since 1971, becoming a Life Member in 2001. Bill served as Chairman of the Willamette University Board of Trustees between 1987 and 1995, and successfully oversaw the Sesquicentennial Campaign during and served as Co-Chair of the Campaign Task Force for Willamette's Capital Campaign during the early 1980s.

Bill majored in engineering at Stanford University, earning his B.S. in 1953. He joined Willamette Valley Lumber Company, which was established by his grandfather in 1905. The company developed into a lumber giant called Willamette Industries. At its peak in the 1990s, Willamette Industries owned or managed 1.7 million acres of timberland and operated more than a hundred wood products manufacturing facilities in twenty-three states and in Ireland, France, and Mexico. Bill served the company in many capacities including: Senior Vice President of Marketing and Building, Executive Vice President, President of the Forest Products Division, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board (1984-2002).

Bill has been a generous supporter of Willamette University over the years, with major gifts to the Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center, the Swindells Crew Program and the Sparks Center remodel. In 1977, Bill and his family established Willamette University’s Irene Gerlinger Swindells Fund which supported scholarships to undergraduates with interests in music. The Fund also supports an endowed chair, the Irene Gerlinger Swindells Eminent Scholar in Music.

Through the Ann and Bill Swindells Charitable Trust, Bill supports cultural, environmental, and educational organizations throughout Oregon.