Skip navigation links

March 29, 2023

Current, past high-ranking federal officials to usher in spring commencements

Extraordinary and impactful national leaders will help celebrate the accomplishments of Michigan State University’s 2023 graduates during its commencement ceremonies this spring.


Ushering in the graduation season on May 5 are Jill Hruby, undersecretary for nuclear security for the U.S. Department of Energy and administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration; Lisa Cook, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and MSU faculty; and Anthony Fauci, former chief medical adviser to the president and past director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 


Starting the day at 9 a.m., Hruby will address master’s and educational specialist degree recipients. She will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science for her notable career in engineering and science, leadership in nuclear security and dedication to the development and enhancement of national security. 


Cook, the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve, will welcome undergraduate degree candidates at 1 p.m. Cook will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities for her accomplished career in the economic and financial sectors.


Finally, Fauci will welcome and speak to doctoral candidates at 3:30 p.m. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities for his career in public health, application of scientific knowledge to the betterment of society and dedication to preventing and treating infectious disease. 


“In awarding honorary degrees, these notable leaders join the class of 2023 as beacons of excellence in our Spartans futures,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Their stories from their college careers and early commitment to creating a better tomorrow will resonate and inspire graduating Spartans as they take this next step in their journey to change Michigan and the world.”


Ceremonies begin on May 4 and continue through May 13. Each of the ceremonies referenced above will be held at the Breslin Student Events Center, 534 Birch Road, others may also be held at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts Great Hall, 750 East Shaw Lane. The events will be livestreamed via MSU’s commencement website. Twitter users are invited to follow the ceremonies using #SpartanGrad23.


For the safety of attendees, no bags or purses will be allowed in the Breslin or Wharton centers during commencement ceremonies. Cameras and camcorders are permitted, but cases are prohibited. No food or beverages — including bottled water — will be allowed, and this applies to graduates, guests and faculty. Both facilities will offer a limited concessions menu during the ceremonies. Additional prohibited items include noisemakers, selfie sticks, pets, signs and weapons of any kind. MSU is a smoke-free campus, including all outdoor and indoor spaces.


Metal detectors will screen all attendees at each commencement location, so please plan accordingly.


Biographies of the speakers receiving honorary degrees are below.


Jill Hruby — Honorary Doctor of Science

Jill Hruby is a highly accomplished leader who has dedicated her life to national security service. With an extensive background in science, engineering, and national security, she served as the inaugural Sam Nunn Distinguished Fellow at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, as well as a member of the Defense Science Board and the National Academy of Science Committee for International Security and Arms Control. As the administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, she has developed and maintained new technologies and processes that have heightened the nation’s nuclear security, arms control, and naval reactors. While serving as director of Sandia National Laboratories, Hruby managed and assisted in the creation of innovative, science-based systems-engineering solutions to address the nation’s most demanding national security challenges. Additionally, she has been a spokesperson and mentor for women in engineering. 


Hruby is a recipient of numerous industry awards for her notable impact on our nation’s nuclear security and holds three patents. She has received the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary’s Exceptional Service Award, the National Nuclear Security Administrator’s Distinguished Service Gold Award and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Additionally, she received the Suzanne Jenniches Upward Mobility Award from the Society of Women Engineers and was named the second most powerful female engineer in 2017 by Business Insider. 


Hruby earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.


Lisa Cook — Honorary Doctor of Humanities

Lisa Cook is an economics professional who has committed her life to providing financial sustainability knowledge and action at all levels of the field. She serves as a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University and is currently on leave during her service to the Federal Reserve. She was a senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, deputy director for Africa Research at the Center for International Development at Harvard University and faculty member of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Solidifying her prominence in the world of economics, Cook now serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which is tasked with determining critical decisions and direction regarding the safety and continual monitoring of financial institutions. Cook has been highly sought after for her expertise in economics and she has received the American Economic Association Impactful Mentor Award and the Founders Prize for best paper in Social Science History in 2018.


Cook earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Spelman College, and she earned a second in philosophy, politics and economics as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University. She received her Doctor of Philosophy in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.  


Anthony Fauci — Honorary Doctor of Humanities

Anthony S. Fauci is an accomplished leader in the medical field and has devoted his life to public service. His medical background has enabled seven presidents and their administrations to make decisions on global health issues. Fauci dedicated 38 years of leadership as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). Fauci’s most notable work includes his vital research regarding HIV/AIDS during the global AIDS epidemic, development of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and counsel for pandemics such as influenza and COVID-19. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, the Lasker Award for Public Service, and the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians.   


Fauci earned a bachelor’s from the College of Holy Cross as well as his M.D. from Cornell University’s Medical College. He has contributed to more than 1,400 scientific publications and recognized with 58 honorary degrees.

By: Dan Olsen

Media Contacts