Honorary Degree Recipients

2017 Honorary Degree Recipients

  The Honorable Cory A. Booker
  United States Senator
  Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Cory Booker was raised in Harrington Park, living his life as a proud New Jerseyan. After graduating from Northern Valley Regional High School, Booker received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University where he played on the varsity football team. While at Stanford, he also was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to study at the University of Oxford where he received an honors degree in History. Booker then completed his education at Yale Law School, receiving his J.D. in 1997.

After law school, Booker moved to Newark – where he still lives to this day – and started a nonprofit organization to provide legal services for low-income families and help tenants take on slumlords, improve living conditions, and stay in their homes.

At the age of twenty-nine, Booker was elected to the Newark City Council from the city’s Central Ward. In the seventeen years since, Booker has worked tirelessly at the local and national levels to improve the lives of New Jerseyans and Americans.

Starting in 2006, Booker proudly served as Newark’s mayor for more than seven years. During his tenure, the city entered its largest period of economic growth since the 1960s. In addition, overall crime declined and the quality of life for residents improved due to initiatives such as more affordable housing, new green spaces and parks, increased educational opportunities, and more efficient city services.

On October 16th, 2013, Booker won a special election to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate. On November 4th, 2014, Senator Booker was re-elected to a full six year term. As New Jersey’s junior Senator, Cory Booker has brought an innovative and bipartisan approach to tackling some of the most difficult problems facing New Jersey and our country.

Senator Booker has established himself as an innovative and bipartisan problem-solver committed to developing collaborative solutions that address some of our most complex challenges. Whether it’s advocating for more federal resources to modernize New Jersey’s transportation system, securing funds to continue the long recovery from Superstorm Sandy, or ensuring that our communities are safe from the effects of pollution and climate change, Booker has proven his steadfast commitment to standing up for what matters most to New Jerseyans. Booker has also emerged as a national leader in the Congressional push for common sense criminal justice reform, advocating for front-end sentencing reforms, pushing for the banning of juvenile solitary confinement in federal facilities, and spearheading legislation to make the hiring process fairer for the formerly incarcerated. Booker has also partnered with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create a number of economic proposals, from increased small business investment to apprenticeship programs, with the hope of fostering greater economic mobility and opportunity for individual Americans.

Booker serves on the Senate's committees on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; Environment and Public Works; and Homeland Security and Government Affairs. He is the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, the Senate panel responsible for overseeing Amtrak and passenger rail in the U.S.


Dr. Melissa Nobles
Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and
Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Dr. Melissa Nobles is Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Nobles' current research is focused on constructing a database of racial murders in the American South, 1930–1954. Working closely as a faculty collaborator and advisory board member of Northeastern Law School's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice law clinic, Dr. Nobles has conducted extensive archival research, unearthing understudied and more often, unknown racial murders and contributing to several legal investigations.

She is the author of two books, Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000), The Politics of Official Apologies, (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and co-editor with Jun-Hyeok Kwak of Inherited Responsibility and Historical Reconciliation in East Asia (Routledge Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in the Annual Review of Political ScienceDaedalusAmerican Journal of Public Health, and several edited books.

Dr. Nobles is a graduate of Brown University where she majored in History. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University. Dr. Nobles has held fellowships at Boston University's Institute for Race and Social Division and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study. She has served on the editorial boards of PolityAmerican Political Science Review, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Perspectives on Politics. Dr. Nobles is also involved in faculty governance at MIT and beyond, serving as the Associate Chair of the MIT Faculty from 2007–2009 and Vice President of the American Political Science Association.


Ms. Lori Stokes
ABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchor
Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Lori Stokes has reported on almost every major story of the last decade and a half.  As anchor of Eyewitness News This Morning and Eyewitness News at Noon, she has been an unflinching guide, yet calming force reporting on events that affect our changing world. Through it all, millions of viewers have counted on Stokes for her steady voice, adept analysis and a keen sense of humor.

In 2000, Stokes came to WABC from MSNBC/NBC where she reported for Nightly News Weekend and anchored the NBC Sunrise and the Weekend Today Show. Stokes is acknowledged in African American Firsts as the first African American to broadcast on MSNBC in 1996. She also hosted Newschat, a call-in talk show that showcased the dynamic rapport she has with her viewers.

Prior to MSNBC/NBC Lori worked for ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, DC where she served as evening anchor at six and 11 o’clock from 1992- 1996. She also launched WJLA’s Good Morning Washington.

Stokes has received numerous awards for her reporting on social issues, in particular stories affecting women and children. As a general assignment reporter from 1991-1992 for WBFF-TV in Baltimore, she received an Emmy Award for her in-depth coverage of children caught in the crossfire of local violence.  In 2015, Stokes became an Emmy Winner for "Protect Our Children: Sexting & Sextortion vs. Safe Dating."

Stokes’ undercover journalistic work as a homeless person on the streets of Baltimore earned her an Associated Press Award. Stokes received a 2006 Emmy nomination for a police chase on which she reported live in 2005.  

WABC’s Lori Stokes broke the story and reported live from the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT- something to this day has left an indelible mark within her heart for the families and the community.

With a keen eye on politics, Stokes was tapped to anchor WABC's coverage of the 2013 Presidential Inauguration of President Barak Obama, 2012 National Democratic Convention and 2004 National Republican Convention. She reported from the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. In addition, Stokes has twice anchored the flagship station's coverage of the Super Bowl parade, in 2008 and 2012, as the New York Giants celebrated their win by winding down the stretch known as the "Canyon of Heroes," a New York City landmark and home to the most famous celebrations paying tribute to the nation's heroes. Stokes is also responsible for breaking the news stories of the prominent deaths of Gianni Versace and Elizabeth Taylor.

Stokes has received many honors throughout her career including a total of nine New York Emmy Awards including Best Morning and Best Daytime News Reports: 2012; Best Daytime Newscast Eyewitness News at Noon: May 4, 2010 Times Square Bomb Arrest; Best Morning Newscast Eyewitness News This Morning: January 27, 2011 January Snow Show; Best Daytimes Newscast Eyewitness News at Noon: May 2, 2011 Death of Osama bin Laden; and Best Entertainment Program or Special: June, 25, 2011 The Road to Zarkana: Cirque Du Soleil in New York.

Stokes also received the George P. Foster Peabody Award for her September 11, 2001 coverage of the World Trade Center attack.

Stokes has been named a “Woman of Influence” by Commerce magazine, placing her among the ranks of best-selling author Mary Higgins-Clark and racecar driver Danica Patrick.  Stokes received the 2003 Congressional Black Caucus Celebration of Leadership Award for her civic service and her status as a role model and McDonalds Corporation recently recognized Stokes as one of the "Black Broadcast Legends" who have impacted the black community through her achievements and positive examples. The New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence recently recognized her for her body of work and her extensive community outreach. 

Stokes is one of the millions of people who live with potentially deadly food allergies and is passionately involved with the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI). Lori Stokes was recently honored at FAI’s Twelfth Annual New York Spring Luncheon and presented with an award for Media Trailblazer by the National Coalition 100 Black Women. Stokes serves as a member of the board of trustees at Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood New Jersey and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical in Paterson, New Jersey.

Stokes was born in Cleveland, Ohio but grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. She is daughter of former United States Congressman Louis Stokes and the niece of Carl Stokes, who made history as the first African American mayor of a major city, Cleveland and was also the first African American news anchor in New York City. Stokes was crowned Miss Azalea in 1983, representing the NATO Alliance. She was the first African American to ever hold the title. 

Stokes is an alumna of Howard University and Ohio State University.