Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, actor Forest Whitaker and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize- winning book about cancer, are among five recipients to receive honorary degrees at USC’s 135th commencement ceremony next month, the university announced last Friday.
Beck has served as chief of the LAPD since 2009 but announced recently that he will be retiring in June.
“For four decades, [Beck] has modeled integrity and resilience for all the women and men of the LAPD, while mentoring countless law enforcement officers. Indeed, his insightful leadership has effected meaningful institutional change, furthered the cause of justice and revitalized hope in our neighborhoods,” USC said in a statement announcing the honorary degrees.
Whitaker, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of former Ugandan President Idi Amin in the 2006 film “The Last King of Scotland,” is also a director, producer and peace activist.
“Over the past decade, Mr. Whitaker has raised awareness of the human cost of conflict and violence, while building pathways to peace for people around the world. He founded the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative to support reconciliation in communities impacted by conflict on three continents,” according to USC.
Mukherjee is an oncologist and author best known for his book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna will also receive honorary degrees at the May 11 ceremony.
Bolden is an aviator and astronaut who logged nearly 700 hours as a shuttle pilot and mission commander before being appointed to the position of NASA administrator, making him the first African-American to lead the agency on a permanent basis; and Doudna is a biochemist, scholar and inventor who also wrote the book “A Crack in Creation,” which addresses the societal and ethical implications of gene editing.
About 15,500 degrees will be handed out during USC’s commencement at Alumni Park, including more than 1,500 doctorate degrees. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the event.