Honorary USC Degree for Ridley-Thomas

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The University of Southern California awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters to Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at its 134th Commencement, citing his contributions to the community.

“It is my hope and commitment that I may continue to serve the public, especially the underserved in our society who are homeless, jobless and lack access to basic medical care, which I believe is a right and not a privilege,” said Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who received his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC in 1989, focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.

USC also awarded honorary degrees to comedian Will Ferrell, who delivered the commencement address. Ferrell earned his undergraduate degree in Sports Information from USC in 1990. Also recognized were Oscar winner Dame Helen Mirren, social work visionary Suzanne Dworak-Peck, orthopaedic spinal surgeon and inventor Gary Michelson, and David Ho, a leading researcher in the fight against AIDS.

OPENING REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

USC President C.L. Max Nikias and Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Good morning, and welcome to the 134th Annual Commencement of the University of Southern California! 

Today, we confer more than 15,000 degrees at the undergraduate level, at the graduate and doctoral level, and at the professional level. Today, we confer degrees on graduates from all 50 states and from more than 100 nations, representing hundreds of fields and specialties. We confer them on women and men from every walk of life.

Today, we also confer honorary degrees on a number of international icons in the arts and humanities; in public service and philanthropy; and in medical and scientific innovation.

REMARKS BY DEAN AMBER MILLER OF THE
USC DORNSIFE COLLEGE OF LETTERS, ARTS AND SCIENCES 

Over his long and distinguished career as a state and local legislator, Mark Ridley-Thomas has been a steadfast champion of Los Angeles. He has tirelessly worked to extend vital services to more citizens, and to increase civic engagement in our city. In founding the influential Empowerment Congress more than 25 years ago, he created a powerful model for political expression.

An esteemed Trojan alumnus, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas strengthens our communities by shaping inclusive legislation that touches the lives of millions while helping to fulfill the lofty promise of a democratic society.

For his exceptional legislative efforts, his determined leadership, and his visionary philosophy of community engagement, the University of Southern California is proud to honor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.

REMARKS BY USC PRESIDENT C.L. MAX NIKIAS

By the authority vested in me by the USC Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon Mark Ridley-Thomas the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. Please accept our warmest congratulations.