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Two Honorary Degrees for Warren Bennis

04/19/07
The University Professor will accept the degrees from SUNY/Buffalo and the University of Cincinnati.
By Allison Engel
“I am absurdly pleased and, honestly, even more surprised,” Bennis said.

This is a very good spring to be Warren Bennis. The University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the USC Marshall School of Business is receiving not one, but two honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees in May and June.

The first, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, will be awarded on May 13. The second, from the University of Cincinnati, will be given on June 9.

Bennis, who was provost and executive vice president at SUNY/Buffalo from 1967 to 1971, is the second former administrator of that university now at USC to receive an honorary degree. Last year, USC President Steven B. Sample, who was president of SUNY/Buffalo from 1982 to 1991, was awarded an honorary doctorate.

The New York university citation refers to Bennis as “one of the world’s foremost scholars of leadership studies” who has “changed the very paradigm of organizational structure and leadership.”

The nomination letter notes that the period when he served at the University of Buffalo was a time characterized by significant campus transformation from a regional private institution to a public university incorporated into the State University of New York system.

At the University of Cincinnati, Bennis served as president from 1971 to 1977. During his term, and largely through his energy and leadership, the university “made the difficult but necessary transition from municipal university to state university,” the recommendation letter for his honor states. “Dr. Bennis went to great lengths to reach out to all sectors of the community, to build understanding and tolerance among many diverse points of view,” the recommendation continues.

“I am absurdly pleased and, honestly, even more surprised,” said Bennis of the double honor.

Bennis holds a doctorate in economics and social science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He previously was awarded 13 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education.