Anthony Fauci, who has been serving as an infectious disease expert and White House adviser through much of the COVID-19 pandemic, will receive an honorary degree from Bowdoin this year.
NASA astronaut and Caribou native Jessica Meir and civil rights activist and Bowdoin alum DeRay Mckesson also will be awarded honorary degrees, according to an announcement from the college on Tuesday. Renowned civil rights activist and Freedom Rider William Harbour will be awarded an honorary degree posthumously.
Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, and since March, he has emerged as one of the country’s top experts and trusted medical figures. He has advised six presidents over 36 years, but became a household name through his medical advice that millions have come to trust throughout the pandemic. Fauci will also serve as medical adviser to President-elect Joe Biden.
Mier, the first woman from the state to reach space, is the only Maine native receiving an honorary degree from Bowdoin this year.
In September 2019, Mier began a 205-day mission in space aboard the International Space Station. A month later, she and Christina Koch became the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk.
Last week, Meir was named a candidate for what could become the first team in 50 years to orbit and land on the moon. If chosen, Meir would be the first woman on the moon.
The other two recipients Bowdoin is honoring are renowned civil rights activists from different eras.
Harbour was a student at Tennessee State University in May 1961, when he and John Lewis first participated in the Freedom Rides, which were bus trips through the south to protest segregation of bus stops. As part of a group of Nashville student activists, Harbour was jailed several times for his activism and was expelled from Tennessee State. He was later reinstated and given an honorary degree.
McKesson was an early supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and has been a civil rights voice ever since.
He’s a cofounder of Campaign Zero, a nonprofit devoted to promoting legislative and policy solutions against police violence and mass incarceration. After graduating from Bowdoin in 2007, Mckesson began working for Teach for America in New York City and then as an educator in Baltimore and Minneapolis. McKesson is the host of the award-winning podcast “Pod Save the People,” which analyzes current news with deep conversations about social, political and cultural issues.