Johns Hopkins confers eight honorary degrees at commencement ceremony

Video: Len Turner and David Schmelick

A longtime Maryland congressman, an acclaimed pianist, and a leader in the fight against infectious diseases were among eight distinguished achievers to receive Johns Hopkins University honorary degrees at the universitywide commencement ceremony at Homewood Field on Thursday.

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

This year's honorary degree recipients were:

  • Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the first woman to lead a major U.S. orchestra. Her arrival in Baltimore in 2007 sparked greater collaboration between the BSO and the university's Peabody Conservatory, where she is a Distinguished Visiting Artist.

  • Ed Catmull, this year's commencement speaker and co-founder of Pixar Animation and the president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. His efforts to bring together moviemaking and computer science led to blockbusters including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Frozen. He has won five Academy Awards.

  • Elijah Cummings, a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, re-elected in 2014 to serve a 10th term representing Maryland's 7th District. A Baltimore native, Cummings is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

  • Anthony Deering, chairman of Exeter Capital LLC, a private investment firm, and former chairman of the board and CEO of the Rouse Company. He currently serves as a director of Vornado Realty Trust and Under Armour and is a member of the Deutsche Bank Americas advisory board, as well as the lead independent director of the T. Rowe Price mutual funds. He is an emeritus member of the university's board of trustees.

  • Lynn Deering, a volunteer and board member with Maryland Citizens for the Arts, a trustee on the board of Center Stage, and a member of the National Council for the American Theatre. Deering is also president of the Charlesmead Foundation, a trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art, and a member of the national advisory board for the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

  • Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases. Fauci serves as one of the key advisers to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues, and on initiatives to bolster medical and public health preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats.

  • Leon Fleisher, an acclaimed pianist who teaches at the Peabody Conservatory. In his prime, he was struck by focal dystonia, a condition that caused the fingers on his right hand to curl. Yet he continued to perform using just his left hand and dedicated himself to teaching and conducting. With treatment and perseverance, he regained the use of his right hand and continues to record today. He was the subject of the 2006 Oscar-nominated short documentary Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story and received a Kennedy Center Honors award in 2007.

  • William "Brit" Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland since 2002. Kirwan chairs the National Research Council's Board on Higher Education and Workforce and co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also serves on the Business-Higher Education Forum.