Honorary Degree Recipients

The Honorable Mayor Ras J. Baraka
40th Mayor of Newark, NJ
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
A native of Newark, whose family has lived in the City for more than 70 years, Mayor Baraka's progressive approach to governing has won him accolades from grassroots organizations to the White House. With a forward-thinking agenda that reduced crime to its lowest levels in five decades, addressed affordability while maintaining steady growth, lowered unemployment, and returned local control of schools after more than two decades, Baraka defied expectations during his first term in office. 

As a part of his commitment to strengthen Newark's position in the expanding technology space, Mayor Baraka has partnered with corporate stakeholders and institutions, such as NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) on efforts that will capitalize on the 26 miles of dark fiber which lie beneath the City's main corridors. Consequently, Newark is the host city for VOICE, a three-day summit hosted by Amazon Alexa, which is at the forefront of natural language processing. Additionally, in 4Q of 2018, the City will also launch LinkNWK (pronounced Link Newark), a new communications network of sidewalk kiosks that will provide residents of and visitors to Newark with free, gigabit Wi-Fi, mobile device charging, phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., access to municipal services, maps and directions, and real-time local information on city streets at no cost to taxpayers or users.

Mayor Baraka's futurist agenda includes the implementation of a groundbreaking partnership called Hire. Buy. Live. Newark, a program that marks the first time that any US city has sought to transform its economy by combining employment, procurement, and residential strategies. These types of initiatives caught the attention of Amazon, which named Newark as a finalist city in its search to establish its second global headquarters.

He is considered nationally as a thought leader in the space of urban revitalization and his defiance of a hostile Presidential directive targeting the immigrant community with an executive order designating Newark as a sanctuary city solidified his status as one of the country's most progressive elected officials.

Mayor Baraka was educated in the Newark Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master's Degree in Education Supervision from St. Peter's University in Jersey City. His father, the late Amiri Baraka, was a legendary poet and playwright. His mother, Amina Baraka, is herself a renowned poet. The father of three daughters, Mayor Baraka is a published author and well-regarded in the entertainment industry for his appearance on the Grammy-award winning album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" in his authentic role as an educator.


The Honorable Margaret H. Marshall
35th Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall is the 35th Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court; she held that position from 1999 until her retirement in December 2010.  The Court dates from 1692 and is the oldest in continuous existence in the United States. She is the only woman to serve as Chief Justice.  She was first appointed to the Court in 1996.  Among the many opinions she wrote was the 2003 decision Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which held that Massachusetts could not deny same-sex couples the right to marry.  The ruling made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage. 

Chief Justice Marshall was born and raised in South Africa and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.  While an undergraduate, she was elected President of the National Union of South African Students, at the time a leading anti-apartheid organization.  She came to the United States and completed a master's degree at Harvard University and then received her law degree from Yale Law School. 

Chief Justice Marshall is the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including from Yale University and her undergraduate college, the University of the Witwatersrand. 

She has been involved in numerous professional and community activities.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Council and Executive Committee of the American Law Institute.