Honorary Degree Recipients

Good afternoon,

Every year at commencement, I have the privilege of recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the Honorary Degree Recipients (HDRs) who embody the mission and ideals of Columbia College Chicago in a powerful and compelling way.
One of the primary qualities shared by each of our HDRs is the strong relationship they establish between their creative work and the world. They are truly leaders in their fields, and this year, our HDRs model leadership in a range of distinctive and diverse ways.
The 2017 Honorary Degree Recipients are:
David Cromer, an award-winning theatre director lauded for his innovative take on American plays like Our TownPicnic and A Streetcar Named Desire. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is the recipient of numerous Joseph Jefferson Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, and Obie Awards. 
Mark Kelly, the commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). He is the founder of the Wabash Arts Corridor initiative, and previously served as the vice president for student success at Columbia. 
The late Richard "Dick" Paul Kiphart (received by Susie Kiphart), who served in the U.S. Navy and worked for William Blair & Company for 50 years. Mr. Kiphart was president of the Erikson Institute board and served on the boards of Lurie Children’s Hospital, Merit School of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Poetry Foundation. He was also the chair of Columbia’s board until 2016.
Kerry James Marshall, renowned painter and the recipient of many prestigious awards, including a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kerry James Marshall: Mastry is the first major museum survey of Marshall’s work, focusing on his paintings from the past 35 years.
Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of Matthew Shepard and the founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which is dedicated to social justice, diversity awareness and education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Full bios and more information about commencement will be forthcoming in the college’s annual press release.

I look forward, as always, to our commencement ceremonies and being inspired by the words of our HDRs.


Kwang-Wu Kim 
President and CEO
Columbia College Chicago