Melissa Smith '18, Anya Wang '17, and Knight Distinguished Associate Professor for the Study of Religion & Cu...
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April 10, 2017
Knox College announced today the recipients of honorary degrees to be awarded at the 2017 Commencement Exercises on Sunday, June 4. They are actress, producer, and philanthropist Eva Longoria, who will deliver the Commencement address; Wes Jackson, a leader in the international sustainable agricultural movement; and Ambassador Fay Hartog Levin, a distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
About the 2017 Honorary Degree recipients:
Eva Longoria is an award-winning actress, producer, director, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Desperate Housewives alumna. She stars in feature films Lowriders (May 2017) and All Star Weekend (Summer 2017), as well as the BBC miniseries Decline and Fall (March 2017), and is set to star in the new Fox comedy series Type A. She has directed episodes of acclaimed series Jane the Virgin and Black-ish, and will guest star on Empire.
She is founder of The Eva Longoria Foundation to help Latinas build better futures for themselves; co-founder of Eva’s Heroes, which enriches the lives of those with special needs; and is the National Spokesperson for Padres Contra el Cancer, a non-profit committed to improving the lives of children with cancer.
Longoria has a master’s degree in Chicano studies. Her entrepreneurial activities include serving as a Global Brand Ambassador for L’Oreal Paris, ownership of BESO Restaurant in Hollywood, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, fragrances EVA and EVAmour, a New York Times-bestselling cookbook Eva’s Kitchen, and a home collection line with JCPenney.
Wes Jackson is co-founder and president emeritus of The Land Institute and a leader in the international sustainable agricultural movement.
Jackson was born and raised on a farm near Topeka, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in botany from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate in genetics from North Carolina State University. He then pursued an academic career, ultimately teaching at California State University, Sacramento, where he helped to establish the country’s first environmental studies department and served as its chair.
After leaving academia in 1976, Jackson returned to his native state of Kansas, where he founded The Land Institute. A nonprofit organization, The Land Institute is committed to researching and developing food production methods that sustain the land and soil, a precious resource in an increasingly precarious state around the globe. The Institute’s goal is to create an agriculture system that mimics natural systems in order to produce ample food and reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of industrial agriculture.
A 1990 Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment and a 1992 MacArthur Fellow, Jackson is the author of Becoming Native to This Place, Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson, and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, among other publications. New Roots for Agriculture outlines the basis for The Land Institute’s agricultural research. He is the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Right Livelihood Award (2000), the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Award (2007), the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Award (2011), and the Garden Club of America Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal (2012). Rolling Stone has called him one of “100 agents of change.”
Life magazine named him as one of 18 individuals they predict will be among the 100 "important Americans of the 20th century." In 2005, Smithsonian included Jackson as one of "35 Who Made a Difference."
Ambassador Fay Hartog Levin, distinguished fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, was the 65th U.S ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She served from 2009-2011 as chief of mission of an embassy that included 15 federal agencies, four locations, and more 250 employees. In her current role at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Ambassador Levin works on a variety of political, international, and environmental issues. She is a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, teaching a course on federalism and state social policy, and also serves as a trustee of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
Prior to her appointment as ambassador, Levin was a senior consultant at Res Publica Group, a public relations and government affairs consultancy in Chicago, where she advised nonprofit and governmental clients. From 1997-2005, she served as vice president of external affairs at Chicago’s Field Museum representing the museum in its relationships with federal, state, and city governments and community affairs.
A graduate of Northwestern University and Loyola University School of Law, Ambassador Levin began her career as a legal advisor at the Illinois State Board of Education. She then joined the law firm Seyfarth, Shaw, representing primarily school boards, private and public colleges, and social service agencies. She published many articles and was a frequent speaker on a variety of topics related to school and employment law and crisis management.
Ambassador Levin is a member of the board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the National Archives Foundation, and the Roosevelt Institute, and serves as vice chair of the board of trustees of Window to the World Communications, Inc. Previously, she served on the boards of DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago and the Merit School of Music. She was honored with the Illinois Arts Alliance’s "Citizen Advocate Award" in 2013 and was the 2016 recipient of Loyola Law School’s Damen Award for distinguished community service.
The 2017 Knox College Commencement will be held on Sunday, June 4, at 10:00 a.m. on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public.
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