Four years after Schlafly, Wash. U to award Gloria Steinem honorary degree

| Senior News Editor

Renowned feminist, writer and political activist Gloria Steinem will be one of six people to receive an honorary degree from Washington University at commencement this May.

The announcement follows the University’s decision four years ago to award political opposite Phyllis Schlafly with an honorary degree in 2008, a move that incited considerable controversy within the University community.

According to the administration, there are a number of factors that influence who is given an honorary degree.

“Generally speaking, the University looks for people who are recognized for their accomplishments in their chosen field and for individuals who are known to be good speakers. Sometimes the University gives special consideration to individuals with ties to the University, St. Louis or if their work is important to a particular focus area of the University,” Assistant to the Chancellor Rob Wild wrote in an email to Student Life.

“There is always a wide range of people to be considered and selected from a wide variety of backgrounds and social and political leanings,” he added. “Gloria Steinem clearly stands on her own as a person worthy of receiving an honorary degree from Washington University.”

The other recipients will be Richard Mahoney, the retired chair and CEO of Monsanto; C. Ronald Kahn, MD, the president and director of one of the world’s preeminent diabetes clinical and research organizations, the Joslin Center; Donald Suggs, DDS, publisher and executive editor of the St. Louis American, a weekly newspaper that serves the local African American community; and David Becker, JD, professor emeritus of the law of property and associate dean for external relations at the University’s School of Law.

Alumnus Mike Peters, this year’s commencement speaker and the creator of the “Mother Goose and Grimm” cartoons, will also be receiving an honorary degree. Peters graduated from Washington University in 1965 after getting his start as a staff cartoonist for Student Life.

The recipients, who were announced by the University on Thursday afternoon, will be awarded their degrees during the University’s commencement ceremony in Brookings Quadrangle on May 18.

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