June 4, 2007
By George Mauzy
This year's list of Ohio University honorary degree recipients has an international flavor, with four of the five recipients hailing from outside the United States. The distinguished group will receive honorary doctoral degrees during graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies on June 8 and 9 at the Convocation Center.
This year's recipients are: Chief Ken Nnamani (doctor of laws), Dr. Kao Kim Hourn (doctor of public service), Dr. Thanu Kulachol (doctor of humane letters), Dr. Jennie S. Hwang (doctor of science) and Dr. John Light (doctor of laws).
The university annually awards honorary degrees to individuals who have achieved distinction in scholarship, creative activity, professional pursuits, business, government, civic affairs or service to Ohio University. Each year, the eight-member Ohio University Honorary Degree Committee recommends a list of potential recipients to the president, who presents them to the board of trustees.
Nnamani, a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since 1998 and a two-time graduate of Ohio University, is a longtime promoter of self-help programs that augment scarce governmental resources. His civic leadership and effectiveness as a business consultant have led to significant growth in human and social capital through scholarships, building education facilities, rural electrification, road construction and digital telecommunications.
He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration (1977) and an MBA (1978) from Ohio University and will receive his honorary degree at the graduate ceremony on June 8.
Kao, president and founder of the University of Cambodia, earned master's degrees in political science and international affairs from Ohio in 1991. In his role as president, he is pursuing the development of several collaborative programs between the University of Cambodia and Ohio University that allow participants to share ideas, scholars and cultures. He also is the director of the Cambodian Institute of Cooperation and Peace, which is the country's only think tank and serves as an independent voice on important issues such as security, economics and the role of women in Southeast Asia.
As Cambodia's secretary of state, he addresses legal and societal issues related to justice and reconciliation involving the Khmer Rouge regime. An accomplished author, he has authored many publications on the security, diplomacy and politics of Cambodia and Southeast Asia. He will receive his honorary degree at the afternoon undergraduate ceremony on June 9.
Thanu is being honored for nearly 20 years of leadership as president of Bangkok University, that city's top private university. Recently retired, he now serves as a member of his university's board of trustees. Thanu is internationally known for his leadership and work on developing international educational partnerships, and has maintained a 30-year association with Ohio University.
As a member of the Thai senate, he has promoted education and culture, and he is active in numerous international education organizations, including one that oversees the educational quality and assessment of universities in Thailand. He will receive his honorary degree at the morning undergraduate ceremony on June 9.
Dr. Hwang, president of H-Technologies Group near Cleveland and a native of China, will serve as the undergraduate commencement speaker on June 9. She has been a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, adviser, author and international speaker for 30 years. She is applauded for her ability to bridge the gap between technology and real-world applications and bringing innovations to commercialization.
She has held senior managerial positions with Martin Marietta Corp. (now Lockheed Martin), SCM Corp. and Sherwin Williams Co. and co-founded several businesses. Her research expertise is surface mount technology, as she helped create technologies related to cell phones, computers and the environment. She holds several patents and has authored more than 300 publications, including several books.
Dr. Hwang has served on the boards of publicly traded and private companies, was the only woman from Ohio elected to the National Academy of Engineering and was named one of Industry Week's R&D Stars to Watch. She will receive her honorary degree at the morning undergraduate ceremony on June 9.
Light is a familiar name in the Athens area because of his nearly 40-year tenure as president of nearby Hocking College, the longest term of any higher education institution president in Ohio. He founded the college in 1968 and has transformed it into one of the state's best schools for students seeking degrees from technical and service programs, such as hospitality, nursing and law enforcement. Hocking College recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Ohio University to create a clear path for its graduates in designated programs to earn four-year degrees from the Athens campus.
He has forged many other partnerships with institutions and businesses in the region and around the world. Light is being singled out for providing a platform for educational, economic and social development in the region. He will receive his honorary degree at the afternoon undergraduate ceremony on June 9.
An estimated 600 master's and doctoral candidates will participate in Friday's commencement ceremonies beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Convocation Center.
Some 4,500 students will graduate during Saturday's two ceremonies. Graduates of Ohio University's colleges of Business, Communication, Fine Arts, and Engineering and Technology as well as University College and regional campuses will participate in the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony on June 9. The 2 p.m. ceremony is for graduates of the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, and Health and Human Services as well as Honors Tutorial College.