Wheaton announces 2024 honorary degree recipients

Commencement maceThree earn recognition—an inspiring higher education leader, author and alumna pediatrician

Wheaton College will present three inspiring individuals with honorary degrees on May 18, 2024 at its 189th Commencement. The recipients are a nationally recognized leader in higher education, an author and journalist who fosters understanding across social and political divides, and a pediatrician and highly engaged alumna who has dedicated her career to supporting healthy lives as a key to successful communities.

Honorary degrees will be presented to Lawrence S. Bacow, former president of Harvard University and Tufts University; Mónica Guzmán, a bridge builder, journalist and author of I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times; and Dr. Carol Samuels-Botts, a Wheaton Class of 1974 alumna, pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Bacow, who served on the Wheaton Board of Directors from 1999 to 2009, is widely recognized as one of higher education’s most respected leaders. During his tenure at Harvard, he launched a range of academic initiatives, advocated for public service, diversity and access to opportunity, and successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic through insightful and collaborative leadership. The Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability, the Harvard Quantum Initiative, the Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence, and the Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery initiative were all established during Bacow’s tenure. Prior to assuming the Harvard presidency, Bacow served as the 12th president of Tufts University, and before that he was a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty for 24 years, where he served as chair of the faculty and then chancellor.

Guzmán is host of “A Braver Way” podcast and senior fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America. She was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. She currently leads the organization Reclaim Curiosity as its founder and CEO; and shares her insights with groups across the country as an in-demand speaker. Her book was a New York Times recommended read and a 2023 U.S. News & World Report’s “10 Books to Read Before College” pick.

Samuels-Botts has practiced general pediatric medicine as a partner in the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C., in Largo, Maryland, for more than 30 years. The award-winning doctor has cared for thousands of patients and their families, promoting healthy living principles and treating childhood illnesses. She also has remained an engaged Wheaton alumna since graduation, including service on the Wheaton Alumni Board of Directors.

Commencement, which starts at 9:30 a.m., will celebrate the Class of 2024 with family, friends, alumni, staff, faculty and trustees. The ceremony will take place outside on the Dimple. (In the event of extreme weather conditions, check the Wheaton website for updates.) A livestream will be available.

Also, Reunion will take place from Friday, May 17, through Sunday, May 19. Events include a Reunion picnic, tours, exhibitions, class dinners, receptions and a Saturday evening dance. Registration is open through Friday, April 26, 2024.

Read more about the honorary degree recipients.