Honorary doctorate: Alumna Carol Geary Schneider.

Carol Geary Schneider

Carol Geary Schneider ’67, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Mount Holyoke College’s 178th commencement Sunday, May 17. She will also deliver the commencement address.

Schneider is widely recognized as an authority on higher education and has published extensively on many areas of the field. She views her education at Mount Holyoke as a turning point that set her on her path to become a leading national advocate for undergraduate liberal education and women’s colleges.

"An honorary degree from one’s alma mater truly invites you to think hard about your life’s journey and the way your college learning influenced that journey,” she said. “It’s always been clear to me that the values that have driven my work in higher education were framed by my actual experience as a student at Mount Holyoke.

“The College held me to high standards, forced me to stretch, and gave me a very clear understanding of the difference between a half-formed opinion and conclusions grounded in real knowledge. I felt fortunate at the time for my education at Mount Holyoke, and the decades that since have passed have only deepened my appreciation.”

Geary is known as an authority on higher education and has taught at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, Boston University, and Chicago State University. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she received her PhD in history from Harvard University. She is a past member of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees.

“Mount Holyoke in 2015 is a vastly more adventurous and cross-cultural community than when I attended in the 60s,” Schneider said. “I admire the leadership on new forms of liberal learning that the College is providing at all levels, so I am doubly honored to be welcomed back at what I see as an incredibly exciting moment in the College’s history.”

Schneider joins an impressive list of previous Mount Holyoke honorary degree recipients, including poet Maya Angelou, actress Glenn Close, activist Rosa Parks, 1902 alumna and reformer Frances Perkins, and President William McKinley. Mount Holyoke's tradition of awarding honorary degrees to extraordinary individuals dates back to 1894.

Others receiving honorary degrees this year are Newman’s Own Foundation CEO Robert Forrester; CARE.com founder and CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo ’93; and internationally acclaimed artist Meredith Monk.