RIT to confer four honorary degrees at May 10 commencement ceremony

Pattie Moore, Sanjay Mehrotra, Garth Fagan, and Rita Colwell will be recognized

Rochester Institute of Technology will confer honorary degrees to four outstanding individuals at its 2024 commencement ceremony on Friday, May 10. The honorees will be recognized alongside more than 4,000 graduates.

Earning honorary degrees are:

Patricia (Pattie) Moore ’74 (industrial design), prestigious designer and gerontologist, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In addition to receiving an honorary degree, Moore will also deliver the keynote address for the university’s Academic Convocation ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 10, in the Gordon Field House and Activities Center.

Moore, who is an author, educator, and design thought leader, is one of the founders of Universal Design. As president of MooreDesign Associates, Moore focuses her work on providing for lifespan quality for all ages and abilities with inclusivity and universality. Her firm serves corporations, governments, and organizations working in communication, healthcare, products, and transportation.

She was awarded RIT’s Alumna of the Year in 1982 and, in 2012, Moore was inducted into RIT’s Innovation Hall of Fame. She has authored numerous articles and books, including DISGUISED: A True Story and Ageing, Ingenuity & Design. From 1979 to 1982, Moore traveled throughout the United States and Canada disguised as a women more than 80 years old. With her body altered to simulate the normal sensory changes associated with aging, she was able to respond to people, products, and environments as an elder. Moore was honored in 2023 with the esteemed World Design Medal from the World Design Organization and the National Design Award, presented in 2019, by the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt design museum. In 2000, a consortium of news editors named Moore one of The 100 Most Important Women in America, and she was named one of 50 Americans Defining the Millennium by ABC World News Tonight.

Sanjay Mehrotra, president and chief executive officer at Micron Technology, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. According to Mehrotra, Micron is entering an exciting period for the company, as breakthroughs in computing architecture and artificial intelligence drive new opportunities for memory and storage technologies. The company recently announced plans to establish the largest semiconductor manufacturing facility in U.S. history in central New York with support from the CHIPS and Science Act.

With more than 40 years of experience in the non-volatile semiconductor memory industry, Mehrotra was co-founder, president, and CEO of SanDisk, overseeing its growth from a startup in 1988 to an industry-leading Fortune 500 company, until its acquisition by Western Digital in 2016. Prior to SanDisk, Mehrotra held design engineering positions at Integrated Device Technology Inc., SEEQ Technology, and Intel Corp.

Mehrotra is highly distinguished in scientific communities, holding more than 70 patents. In 2022, he was elected into the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to non-volatile memory design and architecture-enabling multilevel cell NAND flash products.

At the age of 18, Mehrotra moved to the United States from India to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. In 2009, he graduated from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Education program.

Garth Fagan, celebrated choreographer and dancer, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. Known for his groundbreaking contributions to the world of contemporary dance, Fagan received his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in 1968 before beginning a distinguished professorship at the State University of New York at Brockport.

In 1970, he founded Garth Fagan Dance Company in Rochester, N.Y., which has become an iconic institution in the dance world and developed the Fagan Technique™—fusing elements of ballet, modern dance, and Afro-Caribbean influences.

Critics have hailed Fagan as “one of the great reformers of modern dance.” His remarkable achievements have led to various accolades, including a Tony Award for his choreography in the Broadway musical The Lion King. Fagan also received a Laurence Olivier award for Best Theater Choreographer in 2000 and received honorary degrees from The Juilliard School, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, University of Rochester, Nazareth University, and the Special Gold Musgrave Medal from his native country Jamaica. Fagan has contributed significantly to the education and performing arts community and, in 2023, was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. Through the Garth Fagan Dance Partnership with RIT and its National Technical Institute for the Deaf, he has played a pivotal role in nurturing future dancers and choreographers.

Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science. Colwell is also senior advisor and chairman emeritus of Canon U.S. Life Sciences Inc., and president and chairman of CosmosID Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she is creating an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world.

Colwell served as the first female director of the National Science Foundation from 1998 to 2004. During her tenure, her major interests included K-12 science and mathematics education, graduate science and engineering education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and engineering. She has held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She has authored or co-authored 19 books and more than 800 scientific publications, produced the award-winning film Invisible Seas, and has been awarded more than 60 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education. A geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in recognition of her work in the polar regions.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and a master’s degree in genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in oceanography from University of Washington.

“We are honored to award these distinguished individuals with honorary degrees in recognition of their pioneering contributions to science, engineering, the arts, and design, and to society as a whole,” said RIT President David Munson. “Their achievements are a testament to their remarkable combination of creativity, talent, and perseverance. As we encourage our graduates to make a difference in the world, these honorary degree recipients provide inspiration to our graduates, and to the entire RIT community, through their groundbreaking innovation.”

Recommended News