Campus Life

Four Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at USU's 130th Commencement

Adam Grant is the 2017 Utah State University commencement speaker. He will be awarded an honorary doctorate during the May 6 ceremony.

Utah State University welcomes four distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees during its 130th graduation ceremony.

Those receiving honorary degrees are Adam Grant, a New York Times bestselling author and top-rated professor at the Wharton School, Ted Stewart, former chief judge of the District of Utah; Don J. Wang, successful businessperson and strong community leader from Houston, Texas and Beverly Jean Larson White, Utah’s longest-running woman to serve in the Utah State House of Representatives.

The prominent individuals will receive honorary doctorates during the undergraduate ceremony May 6 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan.Grant is the commencement speaker. White was presented her honorary doctorate at the USU-Tooele graduation ceremony held April 22.

USU President Noelle Cockett said honorary degrees are one of the most important ways the university has to recognize people for the commitment and sacrifices they have made to make positive changes in the world.

“All of these individuals have made their marks in a number of ways and in a number of fields, but all of them deserve honor for their passion and determination to serve others,” she said.

ADAM GRANT (Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Grant is the author of two New York Times bestselling books translated in 35 languages. Originals explores how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink while Give and Take examines why helping others drives one’s success.

A top-rated professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Grant has been recognized as one of the world’s “25 Most Influential Management Thinkers” by “Thinkers 50” and is one of Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40.”

Grant’s TED talks on the topics of original thinkers and givers and takers have been viewed more than 7 million times. He received a standing ovation at TED in 2016 and was voted the audience’s favorite speaker by the Nantucket Project. His speaking and consulting clients include Facebook, Google, the NBA, Merck, Goldman Sachs, Pixar, the U.S. Army and Navy and the World Economic Forum, where he has been honored as a Young Global Leader.

TED STEWART (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Stewart was nominated by President Bill Clinton on July 27, 1999, to the United States District Court of the District of Utah and, later that year, confirmed and sworn in by the U.S. Senate. He became Chief Judge for the District of Utah in January 2011.

Stewart served as chief of staff to Governor Michael O. Leavitt (R-Utah) from March 1998 to November 1999 and as the executive director of the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Utah from 1993 to 1998.

Stewart has been a visiting professor at USU beginning in 1991, teaching a course on the United States Congress followed by a course on environmental law and policy from 1994-98. He currently teaches a course on democracy and public policy as well as a course on the U.S. Supreme Court. A 1972 graduate of USU, with a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in history, Stewart obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of Utah in 1975. 

DON J. WANG (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Wang has spent much of his life as a strong community leader in Houston, Texas. He continues to distinguish himself as someone dedicated to serving his community, in particular helping to better conditions for Asian immigrants, especially those who emigrated from Taiwan and China.

In 1987, Wang helped found Metrobank to meet the financial needs of various ethnic communities in Houston, where he served as chairman of the board of the company and bank until 2014. He has also served as chairman of the New Era Life Insurance Company during that time.

Also active in a number of business organizations, Wang has been a longtime board member of the Greater Houston Partnership, the supervisory board of directors of the World Trade Division and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 1999, he received the Asian-American Entrepreneur Award and the 50th Year Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice. He received a bachelor’s degree from National Chung Hsing University and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences from Utah State University.

BEVERLY JEAN LARSON WHITE (Honorary Doctorate Recipient-presented at the USU-Tooele graduation ceremony April 22)

White has held many positions in her local, state and federal governments throughout her career. A pioneer for the women working in the professional arena, White was the first woman on the Board of Corrections for the Utah State Prison.

After being appointed to the Utah State House of Representatives to fill a vacant seat, White would go on to get elected and then serve a consecutive 20 years as a woman legislator, longer than any other woman in the state of Utah. While in office, she was instrumental in the introduction of domestic violence, child abuse, mental health legislation and the Displaced Homemaker Act.

Raised in Tooele, White was instrumental in the establishment of USU-Tooele by assisting in obtaining appropriations and serving on the Advisory Board. She also helped initiate a nursing program on the campus. White is the recipient of the Susa Young Gates Award (1975), Legislator of the Year (1981), Woman of the Year from the Central Women Club of Utah (1982), Service in Nursing Award (1988) and Democratic Legislator of the Year (1987).

For more information on USU’s 130th Commencement, visit the commencement website.

Contact and Writer: Maren Aller,, 435-797-1355

Honorary Degree recipient Ted Stewart.

Honorary Degree recipient Don Wang.

Honorary Degree recipient Beverly Jean Larson White.


Commencement 14stories

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