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Four honorary degrees to be awarded

A former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner; an internationally known economist, educator and Binghamton alumnus; a local philanthropist; and a chemical engineer will receive honorary degrees and speak at Binghamton University Commencement ceremonies in May. All ceremonies will be held in the Events Center.

Ronald Ehrenberg ’66

Ehrenberg, a staunch advocate of public higher education, will receive the doctor of science degree and speak at the Graduate School Commencement at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 17.

He is the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics at Cornell University, where he is also director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. In 2005, he was named a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, the highest honor for undergraduate teaching that Cornell bestows. His research and publications on the economics of education have earned widespread praise and have contributed to the national dialogue on the funding of higher education, public and private.

Ehrenberg earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences from Binghamton before receiving his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Northwestern University.
In addition to the economics of education, Ehrenberg’s fields of specialization include the analysis of labor markets, evaluation of social programs and analysis of compensation programs.
He and his wife, Randy Ann Birch Ehrenberg ’67, established the Judith and Seymour Ehrenberg Endowed Scholarship in 1998 for Harpur College of Arts and Sciences students of limited financial means. The scholarship is named for Ehrenberg’s parents, both former teachers in New York City public schools.

Richard Felder

Felder, a chemical engineer by training known for his expertise in teaching methods, will receive the doctor of science degree and speak at the morning Harpur College ceremony at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 18.

He attended City College of New York, earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and went on to Princeton University for his doctorate in chemical engineering.

Felder is now the Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University.

Co-author of Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes, an introductory chemical engineering text among the most popular in the field, Felder has published more than 200 works on science and engineering education and chemical process engineering.

He is co-director of the National Effective Teaching Institute with his wife and colleague, Rebecca Brent, offering workshops on effective teaching methods. Felder’s methods involve inductive teaching, including inquiry-based learning, project-based learning and other student-centered methods that immediately involve students as active learners.

He has been honored with numerous awards, including the R.J. Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Extension; the AT&T foundation Award for Excellence in Engineering Education; the Chemical Manufacturers Association National Catalyst Award; and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Institute Lectureship Award. In 2006, he was chosen as one of five Outstanding Engineering Educators of the Century by the Southeastern Section of the ASEE.

Raymond Osterhout

Osterhout, a retired insurance executive and philanthropist, will receive the doctor of humane letters degree at the professional schools ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 18.

A native of Windsor, Osterhout has made two $1 million gifts to Binghamton University – one to establish the Ray and Wanda Osterhout Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship within the School of Management and the second to name the Osterhout Concert Theater in support of the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts.

The professorship gift supports the continued growth of an innovative program designed to prepare graduates to launch new businesses. The gift to the Anderson Center helps maintain the high quality of the center’s technical equipment and performances.

Osterhout was a stand-out in cross country and track at Syracuse University. He married his high-school sweetheart, Wanda Steinbrecher, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

He worked for Kemper Insurance before moving on to the reinsurance field. Osterhout rose to the position of president of the National Reinsurance Corp. before serving as chairman, president and CEO of American Independent Reinsurance Corp., part of Aetna Life and Casualty Co. After selling that firm, he worked for Swiss Reinsurance Corp. as group vice president and underwriting and marketing manager. He retired in 2002.

Osterhout serves on the Binghamton University Foundation audit committee, the School of Management’s Dean’s Advisory Board and Harpur Forum. He is also a judge and mentor for the School of Management’s business plan competitions.

With his wife, Osterhout received the Binghamton University Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award in 2005.

Theodore J. (Ted) Kooser

Kooser, 13th poet laureate consultant to the Library of Congress and a Pulitzer Prize winner, will receive the doctor of letters degree and speak at the second Harpur College ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18.

Kooser earned his bachelor’s degree in English education from Iowa State University. He taught high school for a year before beginning graduate study in English at the University of Nebraska, while working full time for Bankers Life Nebraska.

Kooser wrote poetry each day before heading for the office, publishing 11 full-length collections of poetry while rising to the position of vice president of Lincoln Benefit Life, from which he retired in 1999. His published works include Official Entry Blank (1969), Sure Signs: New and Selection Poems (1980), Weather Central (1994) and Delights and Shadows (2004), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005. Also in 2005, Kooser published The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets.

In 2006, Kooser accepted the Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award for Delights and Shadows. He conducted a workshop for the University community and gave a reading when he accepted the award.

Kooser teaches poetry as a presidential professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08