2019 Honorary Degree Recipients
Each year, we are humbled to honor movers and shakers who have made a difference and personify the mission and values of Beacon College.
James T. Brett: A national disability advocate and former Massachusetts legislator, Brett has served since 1996 as the president and chief executive officer of The New England Council, an alliance of schools, hospitals, corporations, and other private groups dedicated to promoting economic growth in the six-state region. Inspired by his brother Jack, who has unique abilities, Brett picked up the gauntlet as a tireless champion of the cause. He has served as the Chairman of The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. In 2016, Congress appointed him to the National Council on Disability. He is also chair of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability and serves as the chair of the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission. He formerly served on the Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.
Dr. Charles Vert Willie: The Charles William Eliot Professor of Education, Emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Willie’s expertise on race helped shape desegregation efforts across the nation. An educator, activist, sociologist, and expert in school desegregation, Willie in 1950 became the first African-American professor at Syracuse University. He ultimately served as the chair of the department of sociology and the university’s vice president of student affairs, before moving on to Harvard. A prolific scholar, he has authored 30 books on race, gender, socioeconomics, religion, education, urban communities, and family dynamics. Still, this grandson of a former slave and self-described “applied sociologist” made perhaps his greatest social impact with his consultancy and expert testimony in desegregation trials in communities including Boston, Hartford, Dallas, Denver, and Lee County, Fla. and other cases.
Past Honorary Degree Recipients
The following people have been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Beacon College.
2011: Bambi Lockman — former chief of the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services in the Florida Department of Education
2012: Dr. Alexa Posny — former assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS), and former director of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs
2013: John M. Hutchinson, PhD — former interim president of Beacon College
2016: Rep. Daniel A. Webster — U.S. Representative
2017: Sen. Tom Harkin — former U.S. Senator and architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act
2018: Sheikha Jameela Al-Qasimi — Director General of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (United Arab Emirates)
2018: Sen. Andrew and Camille Gardiner — Former Florida State Senate President, and disability advocates
2019: James T. Brett — President of the New England Council and national disability advocate
2019: Dr. Charles Vert Willie — sociologist, author, activist and Charles William Eliot Professor of Education, Emeritus at Harvard University