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April 24, 2000

MSU to recognize four with honorary degrees

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Four distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, research and humanity will be recognized by Michigan State University during spring commencement ceremonies Friday, May 5.

The undergraduate convocation ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. The advanced degree ceremony takes place at 7 p.m., also at the Breslin Center.

Honorary degrees will be presented to:

  • James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank Group. He will speak at the undergraduate convocation and will receive an honorary doctor of humanities.
  • Rita R. Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation. She will speak at the advanced degree ceremony and will receive an honorary doctor of science.
  • Arnold L. "Arny" Demain, professor of industrial microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a "Michigan State College" alumnus. He will receive an honorary doctor of science at the 1 p.m. ceremony.
  • Murray Goldstein, assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service and current medical director of the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Education Foundation. He will receive an honorary doctor of science at the 7 p.m. ceremony.

The undergraduate convocation ceremony also includes remarks by a student speaker and the presentation of the senior class gift. Others to be recognized include the MSU Board of Trustees and the GPA Award winners, national and international scholarship winners and the Senior Class Council.

Biographies of the honorary degree recipients follow:


James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank Group since June 1995, established his career as an international investment banker with a parallel involvement in development issues and the global environment.

Since becoming president, he has traveled to more than 100 countries to gain first-hand experience about the challenges facing the World Bank and its 181 member countries. He has met with government clients as well as representatives of business, labor, media, religious and women's groups, students and teachers.

In the process, he has taken the initiative in forming new strategic partnerships between the World Bank and the governments it serves, the private sector, civil society, regional development banks and the United Nations.

Prior to joining the World Bank, he was an international investment banker. His previous position was as president and chief executive officer of the James D. Wolfensohn Inc. investment firm, established in 1981 to advise major U.S. and international corporations.

In 1970 he became involved in New York's Carnegie Hall, first as a board member and as chairman of the board from 1980 to 1991, during which time the restoration of the landmark New York building was completed. In 1990 he became chairman of the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He is president emeritus of both boards.

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Wolfensohn was born in Australia. He holds his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Sydney and a master of business administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Before attending Harvard, he was a lawyer in the Australian firm of Allen Allen and Hemsley.


Rita R. Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) since August 1998, has held numerous challenging faculty and administrative positions in the U.S. and international scientific communities.

The NSF is an independent agency of the federal government that provides support for research and education in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

Prior to becoming NSF director she was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, a position she had held since 1991. She was named professor of microbiology at the University of Maryland in 1972. While there she also served as director of the Sea Grant College and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Maryland System.

A member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990, she has held numerous advisory positions in the U.S. government and private foundations, as well as in the international community. A nationally respected scientist and educator, she has authored or co-authored 16 books and more than 500 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film "Invisible Seas" and has served on editorial boards for a variety of journals.

She began her career at Purdue University and in 1958 joined the University of Washington, where she was a predoctoral associate and assistant research professor.

Born in Beverly, Mass., Colwell holds a bachelor of science degree in bacteriology and master of science degree in genetics from Purdue University and a doctorate in marine microbiology from the University of Washington.


Arnold L. "Arny" Demain's career is characterized by a sustained level of important discoveries and contributions in several areas of industrial microbiology, including his most recent research on microbial production of cholesterol-lowering drugs and immunosuppressive, anti-tumor and anti-fungal drugs.

He also has began to explore the effect of microgravity on secondary metabolites in the metabolic process, an effort that may impact space travelers as well as commercial production strategies. He has been prominent in research relating to fermentation biology, especially with respect to his studies on the biosynthesis of the penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics, for more than 45 years.

Demain's imprint has been left on "Arny's Army," the more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral associates who have trained under his mentorship and who are now scientists, educators and administrators, and who still hold periodic research symposia in his honor.

Prior to assuming his position as professor of microbiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he was founder and head of the Department of Fermentation Microbiology at Merck, Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories.

He received his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in bacteriology from MSU and his doctorate in microbiology from the University of California at Davis and Berkeley.


Murray Goldstein, a world-renowned authority in neurological diseases, is also well known for his career as an osteopathic physician, including serving as an assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service.

His career includes a number of firsts, including being the first and only osteopathic physician to direct one of the National Institutes of Health. He also was the first osteopathic physician to enter a residency in neurology at the Mayo Clinic.

In his current position as medical director of the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Education Foundation, Goldstein directs the distribution of funds to numerous individuals and institutions throughout the United States.

Goldstein has served as a consultant and adviser to the Center for Clinical Neuroscience and Ophthalmology at MSU, and in 1998 was the commencement speaker for the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 1987 he was awarded the Patenge Medal of Public Service from MSU.

He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Neurology and a Proclamation of Commendation from the Congress of the United States.

He received his bachelor of arts degree from New York University and his doctor of osteopathic medicine from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Services in Des Moines. He received his master of public health degree from the University of California School of Public Health.