A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is among three who will receive honorary degrees from The University of Wisconsin at this year’s commencement for doctoral, MFA and professional degree candidates.
Journalist David Maraniss, agricultural businessman Tom Lyon and Broadway producer Rocco Landesman will receive the honorary degrees during the spring ceremony in honor of their contributions to UW, a university statement said.
Maraniss, a best-selling author whose works include “Barack Obama: The Story” and “They Marched into Sunlight,” currently serves as an associate editor for the Washington Post. He attended UW as an undergraduate student, but left the school before graduating to begin his journalism career.
According to the statement, School of Journalism and Mass Communication Director Greg Downey, who nominated Maraniss, said in his nomination, that Maraniss is “one of America’s best journalists.” He is also a former trustee of the Wisconsin Union.
Maraniss has won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his coverage of former President Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1993 and another for covering the Virginia Tech shootings in 2008.
Lyon, who previously led 21st Century Genetics, the world’s largest animal genetics cooperative, has also served as a member of the UW System Board of Regents.
Lyon built 21st Century Genetics from the foundations of the Midwest Breeders Cooperative, where he began his career in 1967. As a member of the UW System Board of Regents, Lyon had a hand in the hiring of former UW Chancellor Donna Shalala and UW System President Katharine Lyall, the statement said.
“Tom advocated and lived by the notion that the success of a company should be measured by the value it brings to its customers,” Kent Weigel, dairy science department chair, said in his nomination, according to the statement.
Landesman’s career post-graduation from UW as a Broadway producer has been enormously successful, the statement said. He has worked with Dodger Productions, which produced the Tony Award-winning “Matilda the Musical.”
Landesman has also produced for a host of playwrights, including Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman and August Wilson.
President Barack Obama also nominated Landesman to serve as chair of the National Endowment of the Arts from 2009-2013.
“His work as a producer and advocate for new work redirected the American theater at a vital time for the history of commercial and regional theater,” Arts Institute Director Norma Saldivar and, Ann Archbold, theatre and drama department chair, said in their nomination of Landesman.
This year’s commencement ceremony for doctoral, MFA and professional degree candidates will be held at the Kohl Center on Friday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m.
[Photo by Michael Forster Rothbart/UW Communications]