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03-30-2016

Six to Receive Clarkson University Honorary Degrees, May 7

Dignity and Power Now Founder Patrisse Cullors; GE Chief Diversity Officer and GE Foundation President Deborah A. Elam; National Domestic Workers Alliance Special Projects Director Alicia Garza; Author Karl Marlantes; YP-Tekniikka Ky Principal Pentti A. Paatero; and Dignity and Power Now Black Alliance for Just Immigration Executive Director Opal Tometi will be awarded honorary degrees at Clarkson University's 123rd commencement on May 7.

Last week, Fortune magazine named Cullors, Garza and Tometi #27 on its annual list of the World’s Greatest Leaders. They started the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Clarkson University's May 2015 CommencementAn established community leader and performance artist trained under the founder of politically expressive theater, Patrisse Cullors raises awareness to issues through a blend of activism and art. Her efforts led her to establish Dignity and Power Now, which fights for incarcerated people, their families and communities. She also serves as the truth and reinvestment campaign director for The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

Deborah Elam has served as president of the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GE, since 2013 and as GE’s chief diversity officer since 2002. She leads efforts globally to ensure that all GE employees feel that they have an opportunity to contribute and succeed. She was appointed a GE company officer in 2006, making her one of the most senior women in the company.

Currently the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Alicia Garza previously served as executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights, where she led the charge on significant initiatives, including organizing against chronic police violence in black neighborhoods. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Guardian, The Nation, and The Feminist Wire.

Karl Marlantes is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novel, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, which has won numerous prizes. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed nonfiction book What It Is Like to Go to War. He served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals.

Pentti A. Paatero, principal at YP-Tekniikka Ky Company in Finland, retired as a researcher in the Department of Physical Sciences at the University of Helsinki in 2004. His research allowed the development of the widely-used EPA Positive Matrix Factorization receptor model, which has contributed enormously to environmental science and was used to determine the seasonal contributions to the arctic aerosol, originating from multiple nations.

As the executive director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Opal Tometi is at the helm of the country’s leading black organization for immigrant rights, steering initiatives including the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants. She has also presented at the United Nations and has participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.

The honorary degree recipients will briefly address the students, their families and guests about a topic central to their success in life.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University's May 2015 Commencement.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/commencement2015a.jpg .]

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

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