Duke University will award six honorary degrees at its commencement exercises on Sunday, May 13, Duke President Vincent E. Price announced Friday.

This year’s recipients are Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra; former Durham Mayor William Bell; Phil Freelon, lead architect for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Dr. William Kaelin, professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; and Russell M. Robinson II, attorney, community leader and philanthropist.

Commencement, featuring an address by Apple CEO Tim Cook, begins at 9 a.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium and is open to the public. Cook is a graduate of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and a member of the university’s board of trustees.

“Duke is proud to recognize the contributions that this distinguished group has made to society,” said Price, who will be presiding over his first commencement since becoming Duke’s 10th president last summer. “They each have been bold leaders in their respective fields, and their work has enriched and improved our lives. I am delighted to have the honor of awarding their degrees, and I am certain that the graduating Class of 2018 will be inspired by their example.”

As published on the University’s website, Adichie has been recognized as a voice of both contemporary African and global Anglophone fiction. She is the author of three novels – “Purple Hibiscus” (2003), “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006) and “Americanah” (2013).

“Americanah” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was named one of The New York Times’s Ten Best Books of the Year. It was selected as the first-year summer reading assignment for Duke’s Class of 2018.

Adichie earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2001, a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins in 2004 and a master’s degree in African Studies from Yale in 2008.

We’re excited that African women such as Adichie are changing the narrative of Africa as a continent. As one of 6 to be elected for such a prestigious degree and one of 2 women to be selected, she continues to lead on as a game changer.



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