Tufts Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for Class of 2021

Illustrious group joins acclaimed civil rights lawyer and advocate Bryan Stevenson as this year’s honorees
Head shot photos of six people. Five people join acclaimed civil rights lawyer and advocate Bryan Stevenson as this year’s honorary degree recipients at Tufts University.
Tufts honorary degree recipients, clockwise from top left: Maria B. Barrett, William Bazeyo, Stacey B. Gabriel, Hamdi Ulukaya, Ofelia Zepeda, and Bryan Stevenson. Photo montage: Momo Shinzawa
April 20, 2021

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Tufts University honorary degree recipients for the Class of 2021 will include a leader in New England’s COVID-19 response, an innovative medical researcher, a food entrepreneur renowned for his humanitarian work, a linguist dedicated to preserving America’s indigenous languages, and a Tufts alumna serving in the highest ranks of the U.S. Army.

The group joins lawyer, author, and civil rights advocate Bryan Stevenson in being recognized with honorary degrees for their work. Stevenson was previously announced as the commencement speaker for the Class of 2021 and will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. All degrees will be conferred during the all-university ceremony, to be held virtually on the morning of May 23.

The honorary degree recipients are:

Maria B. Barrett, major general in the U.S. Army and a Tufts alumna.  She currently serves as commanding general at U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, where her organization secures, operates, and defends the Army’s global enterprise networks. She has served in Kuwait, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Her 33-year Army career spans from the tactical to strategic levels. A veteran of multiple U.S. military operations in Southwest Asia, as well as assignments with the White House Communications Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, her leadership experiences have uniquely equipped her to lead full-spectrum cyberspace operations for the Department of Defense. Her many awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star Medal. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. 

William Bazeyo, Ugandan physician, innovative medical researcher, and academic. Bazeyo is currently a professor of occupational medicine at Makerere University, and has previously served as the university’s deputy vice chancellor (finance and administration) and as dean of Makerere University School of Public Health. He has led research focusing on One Health innovation initiatives across Eastern Africa and supporting African government efforts to control tobacco use. His work has been funded by USAID, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Bazeyo currently chairs several boards, including Uganda’s National Research and Innovation Fund under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. He is a recipient of the Gold Medal, Uganda’s highest civilian honor. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Stacey B. Gabriel, senior director of the Genomics Platform at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her early work on genomics provided foundational research for the International HapMap Project, which developed a haplotype map of the human genome. She has also led the Broad’s contributions to genetic projects including the 1000 Genomes Project and the Cancer Genome Atlas. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gabriel led the development and execution of the Broad’s viral diagnostic effort. Her lab is the largest single COVID-19 testing lab in New England; Tufts is one of the many communities that has benefited from the lab’s robust testing output, allowing for enhanced infection rate monitoring and keeping transmission numbers low. In recognition of her lab’s work, the Boston Globe named her a “Bostonian of the Year” in 2020. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Hamdi Ulukaya, food entrepreneur and philanthropist. A native of Turkey, Ulukaya is the founder and CEO of Chobani. In addition to producing Greek yogurt, oatmilk, coffee creamers, and other products, Chobani has been recognized as a top workplace for equity and inclusion and was an early adopter of a $15 minimum wage. In 2016, Ulukaya launched the Chobani Food Incubator to mentor and support socially responsible food entrepreneurs and further the company’s commitment to food accessibility. He has been recognized by many global organizations, including the United Nations, for his work as the founder of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which aims to mobilize the private sector to improve the lives of the more than 25 million refugees across the world. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Ofelia Zepeda, Native American linguist, scholar, and poet. Zepeda is Tohono O’odham and Regents Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, and the director of the American Indian Language Development Institute. Her teaching and scholarship provide resources for Native American language educators, researchers, and activists. She is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship for her work on American Indian language education, maintenance, and recovery. Zepeda has also been nominated to serve on the task force for the UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) as the team’s sole representative for the U.S. Indigenous community. She has published three books of poetry and is co-editor of Sun Tracks, a series of books by Native American authors. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Robin Smyton can be reached at robin.smyton@tufts.edu.