Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Honorees are noted civil rights advocate, bestselling authors and distinguished diplomat

MADISON, NJ—Drew University announced today that it will award honorary doctorates to bestselling nonfiction author Michael Lewis, noted GLBTQ rights activist Judy Shepard, author and Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong and Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela.  The four will be given honorary doctorates of humane letters at the school’s Commencement ceremony on May 15.

Michael Lewis, who will serve as Drew’s 2010 commencement speaker, is a financial journalist and the author of several non-fiction bestsellers.  He has written articles for The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Bloomberg and Conde Nast Portfolio prior to assuming his current role as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.  His most recent published article, “The Man Who Crashed the World,” appeared in Vanity Fair on August 1, 2009, and was about the recent collapse of insurance giant A.I.G.  Lewis’ books include “Liar’s Poker,” “The New New Thing,” “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” “Game,” “Panic” and “The Blind Side.”  He holds a BA from Princeton University and a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics.

Judy Shepard, founding president of the Matthew Shepard foundation, was thrust into the global spotlight in October of 1998 when her oldest son became the victim of a brutal hate crime.  Matthew’s death sparked a worldwide movement to combat homophobia and hate-related violence, at which Judy was at the forefront.  She, along with her husband Dennis and son Logan, formed the Matthew Shepard Foundation as a means of lobbying for tougher hate crime laws, supporting GLBTQ youth, and promoting acceptance of all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation.  Shepard spends much time traveling to speaking engagements, at which she shares her family’s story and message of tolerance.  She is the author of “The Meaning of Matthew,” a 2009 memoir about her experiences following her son’s death and ongoing fight in support of civil rights for all.

John Shelby Spong was the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  His books on Christianity and the bible have sold over a million copies.  As a biblical scholar, Spong’s interpretations of the bible are informed by his recognition “that parts of it have been used to undergird prejudices and to mask violence.”  He has publicly spoken out against homophobia and dishonesty in politics.  In one article, he took the Religious Right to task for “manipulating truth for political gain.”  Spong has published 11 books, including “Jesus for the Non-Religious,” “A New Christianity for a New World,” “Why Christianity Must Change or Die,” “The Sins of Scripture” and “Liberating the Gospels.”  Spong is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS).  He has received honorary doctorates from both VTS and St. Paul’s College.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela holds a BA in political science and religion from Drew University, and is a former member of the school’s Board of Trustees.  An accomplished political science scholar, Valenzuela previously was a professor of government and director of the Center for Latin American Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  During the Clinton administration, he served as a special assistant to the president and senior director of inter-American affairs for the National Security Council, and as deputy assistant secretary for inter-American affairs for the U.S. Department of State.  His areas of scholarly expertise are the origins and consolidation of dem