Background Image

News & Events


Director of Global Small Pox Eradication Program Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree

[A photograph for media use is available at]

Potsdam, New York - Dr. Donald A. Henderson, professor of medicine and infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 113th Commencement in Potsdam, New York, Sunday, May 14.

Henderson worked for more than 10 years on the global small pox eradication program and led WHO to discover and contain the final cases of smallpox in Somalia in 1977, which lead to the worldwide eradication of the disease. Dr. Donald A. Henderson

Henderson received his medical degree from the University of Rochester and a master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He is currently a professor of Medicine and Public Health and a Distinguished Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity.

In addressing the graduates, Dr. Donald A. Henderson told the class of 2006 select your specialty with care. For 11 years I worked directing the global small pox eradication program. At the end of that time I think I was an international expert in that area  just one problem, there was no more disease. He went on to relate that in his four years serving as the science advisor to President George Herbert Walker Bush he gained an appreciation of how rapidly the pace of biological science was and is continuing to change.

We can not remain as single discipline scientists any longer, Henderson said. Today engineering and chemistry, physics and humanities and the social sciences are coming together. The most significant breakthroughs are coming now by changing our direction doing and thinking about them very differently. Clarkson captures the spirit of thinking and acting differently and this will serve the graduates well and its brand message defying convention.

Henderson has served as a White House Science Advisor for the Life Sciences and in 2002 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation's highest civilian award. Recipients of the award include past presidents Ford and Carter, as well as Anwar Sadat and Margaret Thatcher. He has also received the National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Science's Public Welfare Award and the Japan Prize. He has received numerous honorary degrees as well as awards from 19 countries, WHO and the Pan American Health Organization. Henderson has been described as a great general in mankind's war against disease.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Donald A. Henderson, professor of medicine and infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity, received an honorary doctor of science degree during Clarkson University's 113th Commencement on Sunday, May 14. Henderson led the successful global effort by the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed