2012 Honorary Degrees

Willamette University will bestow honorary degrees upon three prominent individuals at the university's May 13 commencement ceremony.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters & CLA Commencement Speaker

Dr. Gloria Rodriguez

Dr. Gloria Rodriguez

Founder, national president and CEO of AVANCE, Inc.

Founder, national president and CEO of AVANCE, Inc. Family Support and Education Program and a national leader on issues of health and education for parents and children. Dr. Rodirguez is a national leader on issues of health and education for parents and children.

AVANCE, the first parenting education program in San Antonio, was recognized nationally as a model for parent education and family support. It promotes mental health and works to prevent poverty, child abuse and neglect, crime and delinquency, school dropouts and other social and economic problems. The program was featured in numerous newspapers and magazines as well as by “ABC World News Tonight,” “Good Morning America,” Univision and Telemundo. AVANCE received the 1985 Outstanding Mental Health Program Award from the Greater San Antonio Mental Health Association, the Third Annual National Award for the Prevention of Child Abuse in 1986 from the Greater Houston Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse and was included as “one of the ten outstanding and pioneering programs in family literacy” by the Barbara Bush Foundation on Family Literacy.

Dr. Rodriguez served as a charter member on the board of the National Family Resource Coalition and as a consultant to the federal government, the Harvard Family Research Project, Georgetown University and Yale Bush center. She served on the Texas Health and Services Coordinating Council and as chair of the Governor’s Head Start State Collaboration Task Force. Dr. Rodriguez earned her Ph.D. in early childhood education from the University of Texas at Austin.

Honorary Doctor of Science and AGSM Commencement Speaker

Justin Rattner

Justin Rattner

Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Intel Corporation

Justin Rattner is a corporate vice president and the chief technology officer (CTO) of Intel Corporation. He is also an Intel Senior Fellow and head of Intel Labs where he directs Intel's global research efforts in processors, programming, systems, security, communications and, most recently, user experience and interaction. As part of Intel Labs, Rattner is also responsible for funding academic research worldwide through its Science and Technology Centers, international research institutes, and individual faculty awards.

In 1989, Rattner was named Scientist of the Year by R&D Magazine for his leadership in parallel and distributed computer architecture. In December 1996, Rattner was featured as Person of the Week by ABC World News for his visionary work on the Department of Energy ASCI Red System, the first computer to sustain one trillion operations per second (one teraFLOPS) and the fastest computer in the world between 1996 and 2000. In 1997, Rattner was honored as one of the Computing 200, the 200 individuals having the greatest impact on the U.S. computer industry today, and subsequently profiled in the book Wizards and Their Wonders from ACM Press.

Rattner is a member of the Department of Defense/Department of Homeland Security Enduring Security Framework and serves as a member of its Operations Group. He is a trustee of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and serves as Intel's executive sponsor for Cornell University where he is a member of the External Advisory Board for the School of Engineering.

Rattner joined Intel in 1973. He was named its first Principal Engineer in 1979 and its fourth Intel Fellow in 1988. Prior to joining Intel, Rattner held positions with Hewlett-Packard Company and Xerox Corporation.

He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Cornell University in electrical engineering and computer science.

Honorary Doctor of Science

Dr. Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr.

Dr. Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr.

American Astrophysicist

Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr. (born March 29, 1941) is an American astrophysicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Russell Alan Hulse of a "new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation."

Taylor received a B.A. in physics at Haverford College in 1963, and a Ph.D. in astronomy at Harvard University in 1968. After a brief research position at Harvard, Taylor went to the University of Massachusetts, eventually becoming Professor of Astronomy and Associate Director of the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory. Taylor's thesis work was on lunar occultation measurements. About the time he completed his Ph.D., Jocelyn Bell discovered the first radio pulsars with a telescope near Cambridge, England. Taylor immediately went to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's telescopes in Green Bank, West Virginia, and participated in the discovery of the first pulsars discovered outside Cambridge.

Since then, he has worked on all aspects of pulsar astrophysics. In 1974, Hulse and Taylor discovered the first pulsar in a binary system, named PSR B1913+16 after its position in the sky, during a survey for pulsars at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Although it was not understood at the time, this was also the first of what are now called recycled pulsars: neutron stars that have been spun-up to fast spin rates by the transfer of mass onto their surfaces from a companion star.

The orbit of this binary system is slowly shrinking as it loses energy because of emission of gravitational radiation, causing its orbital period to speed up slightly. The rate of shrinkage can be precisely predicted from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, and over a thirty-year period Taylor and his colleagues have made measurements that match this prediction to much better than one percent accuracy. This was the first confirmation of the existence of gravitational radiation. There are now scores of binary pulsars known, and independent measurements have confirmed Taylor's results. Taylor has used this first binary pulsar to make high-precision tests of general relativity.

Working with his colleague Joel Weisberg, Taylor has used observations of this pulsar to demonstrated the existence of gravitational radiation in the amount and with the properties first predicted by Albert Einstein. He and Hulse shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of this object. He was the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Physics from 1980 to his retirement in 2006, and also served for six years as Dean of Faculty.