Ken Jeong (top left), the late Henry “Hank” Aaron (top right), Dr. Rosalind Picard (bottom left) and General David H. Berger will receive honorary degrees in early 2022 from the ‘Tulane University.
Four individuals who have made major contributions in fields ranging from sports and entertainment to national defense and artificial intelligence will receive honorary degrees when Tulane University launches in 2022.
Henry “Hank” Aaron, one of baseball’s greatest players; Gen. David H. Berger, Tulane graduate and commandant of the United States Marine Corps; Ken Jeong, a doctor who has become one of the country’s most sought-after comedic actors, and Dr. Rosalind Picard, inventor, engineer, scientist and pioneer of artificial intelligence, will receive honorary degrees at the May 21 ceremony. Aaron will receive Tulane’s first-ever posthumous honorary degree.
“Each of these individuals has achieved the highest achievement in their respective fields while enriching, empowering, entertaining and protecting the lives of others,” said Tulane President Michael A. Fitts. “They truly personify and embody Tulane’s values of excellence, innovation, compassion and service. It is with great pleasure that I pay tribute to them at this special ceremony.
“Each of these individuals has reached the highest achievement in their respective fields while enriching, empowering, entertaining and protecting the lives of others.”
– President A. Michael Fitts
Aaron, the greatest home run hitter of all time, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He rewrote baseball’s record books during his 23-year Major League career (1954- 76). When he retired at the end of the 1976 season, Aaron held more batting records than any other player in the game’s history. Aaron’s most famous home run came in Atlanta on April 8. 1974 when he hit his 715and homer, breaking Babe Ruth’s seemingly untouchable record. From December 1989 until his death in 2021, he served as senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves.
Aaron was honored for his accomplishments as both a player and a humanitarian. President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal and President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his humanitarian efforts. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig established the Hank Aaron Award in 1999, which is given annually to the best hitters in the National and American Leagues.
Aaron was due to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 2020 Tulane ceremony, but that debut was postponed due to COVID-19. At this year’s ceremony, television host and nonprofit executive Billye Aaron will accept the honorary degree on Aaron’s behalf. Billye Aaron, who was married to the baseball great for 48 years, has become the first black woman in the Southeast to co-host an hour-long daily television talk show. She has also served as a leader in numerous organizations, including the UNCF and the NAACP, where she is Director Emeritus of its Legal Defense Fund.
A native of Woodbine, Maryland, Berger assumed the command of the Marine Corps in 2019. He graduated from Tulane University, where he was a member of the Tulane Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and was commissioned commissioned in 1981. Berger has commanded at all levels – including leading a reconnaissance company; 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in Haiti during Operation Secure Tomorrow and a Regimental Combat Team 8 in Fallujah, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In addition to several advanced degrees, including a master’s degree in international public policy from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Berger’s formal military training includes the U.S. Army’s Advanced Infantry Officer Course, the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the US Marine Corps School. advanced combat. Berger will receive an honorary doctorate in human letters.
Jeong, who will also deliver the keynote at the opening ceremony, honed his skills in New Orleans comedy clubs while doing research at Tulane’s School of Medicine in the 1990s. Legions fans know Jeong as Mr. Chow from The Hangover franchise, Señor Chang from the critically acclaimed TV show “Community”, Wye Mun Goh from the hit movie boobies rich asian, and his own Netflix stand-up special “You Complete Me, Ho,” which earned him a People’s Choice nomination. He’s currently a panelist on Emmy-nominated “The Masked Singer,” which is in its seventh season and just wrapped up its second season as host and executive producer of the popular “I Can See Your Voice.”
Jeong received his undergraduate degree from Duke University (from which he also received an honorary degree in humane letters) and his medical degree from the University of North Carolina. He also did research in gastroenterology at Tulane University School of Medicine and completed his residency in internal medicine at Ochsner Medical Center, while performing at clubs in New Orleans. Jeong will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Dr. Picard is the author of the book, Affective Computing, internationally recognized for pioneering the field of affective computing, which includes giving machines the capacity for emotional intelligence and simulated empathy. Picard is a highly cited author with over 350 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of digital health, machine learning, wearable technology, and affective computing.
Picard co-founded two companies that commercialized his inventions: Empatica, which provided the first FDA-cleared smartwatch for seizure monitoring, and Affectiva (now part of Smart Eye), whose mission is to humanize the technology. The inventions of Picard and his team are now used all over the world. She is a full professor at MIT where she teaches and conducts research at the Media Lab and is the founding chair of MindHandHeart, MIT’s campus-wide wellness initiative. Picard will receive an honorary doctorate of science.
Tulane University’s 2022 start will be at 9 a.m. on May 21 at Yulman Stadium on the university’s downtown campus. It will include all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional graduation ceremony with a New Orleans flavor, including live jazz and a second row procession.