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2016 hon deg recpInfluential leaders in the fields of digital media, economic dynamics, national policy, and functional genomics will receive honorary degrees from Colby College at the College’s 195th Commencement on Sunday, May 22.

Arianna Huffington, cofounder of the Huffington Post, will deliver the commencement address, and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, will speak to Colby seniors at the College’s baccalaureate the previous day. Both will receive honorary doctoral degrees, as will President and CEO of the Jackson Laboratory Edison T. Liu and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Lars Peter Hansen.

“This year’s cohort of honorary degree recipients offers our graduates yet another example of the tremendous impact of scholarship and service on society’s most complex issues,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “We look forward to honoring these four individuals as well as the accomplished members of Colby’s Class of 2016.”

Hansen is an internationally known leader in economic dynamics who works at the boundary of economics and statistics. His groundbreaking work has been transformative for the fields of econometrics, finance, and macroeconomics and for understanding uncertainties in markets. Hansen is the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics at the University of Chicago and director of the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, and he was a recipient of the 2013 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Huffington, who is the author of 15 books, was named to Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She is widely considered a digital media pioneer, having cofounded the Pulitzer Prize-winning Huffington Post and overseen its rise to become one of the most widely read, linked to, and frequently cited media brands on the Internet. Huffington is a frequent commentator on politics and world affairs, and her most recent book, Thrive, debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

An influential figure in both Obama campaigns, Jarrett has been a top White House advisor since 2009. As the president’s closest professional confidante, Jarrett plays a critical role in major policy decisions and counsels the administration on the handling of the most important issues and situations. She has led national efforts to end sexual assault, raise the minimum wage, advocate workplace polices that empower working families, and promote entrepreneurship and early childhood education. Prior to her time in Washington, she was the CEO of the real estate development firm the Habitat Company and a longtime civic leader in Chicago.

Liu, an authority in translational medicine, molecular oncology, and functional genomics, has led several of the world’s leading research institutes including the Human Genome Organisation, the Genome Institute of Singapore, and the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Clinical Sciences. He has authored more than 300 scholarly papers, and his work in genomics has led to major discoveries in cancer research. He has overseen a significant expansion of the Jackson Laboratory, headquartered and Bar Harbor, Maine, one of the world’s leading research institutes for mammalian genetics and genomics.

“Colby is fortunate to recognize this extraordinary group of scholars and civic and business leaders,” said Greene. “They are joined by the force and creativity of their intellects and passion for their work. In that way, they reflect Colby’s commitment to providing a deeply engaged, rigorous education that prepares students to be innovative leaders in a wide array of fields.”

Members of the Class of 2016, who number approximately 500, came to Colby from 31 states and 31 countries. Two thirds of the class studied abroad. The majority of graduates have completed internships and significant scholarly research, and they will go on to a broad range of careers and to graduate or professional schools to study law, education, finance, medicine, nonprofit leadership, and much more.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. on the lawn of Miller Library, weather permitting. It is open to the public. In the case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to the Alfond Athletic Center, in which case tickets will be required for admission to the gymnasium. For those unable to attend, a live webcast will be available on Colby’s website. More information is available at

Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars. Students pursue intellectual passions, choosing among 56 majors or developing their own. Independent and collaborative research, study abroad, and internships offer robust opportunities to prepare students for postgraduate success. Colby is home to a community of 1,850 dedicated and diverse students from around the globe. Its Maine location provides easy access to world-class research institutions and civic engagement experiences.

Visit Colby College’s 195th Commencement site.