OU to recognize honorary degree recipients at spring commencement

icon of a calendarApril 26, 2022

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OU to recognize honorary degree recipients at spring commencement
Honorary Degree Recipients

For outstanding achievements in their respective fields, Sarah Collins Rudolph, Steven Kahn and Dominic Moceri have been selected to receive honorary degrees from Oakland University. The recipients will be recognized at the university’s spring 2022 commencement ceremonies.  You can watch the live stream commencement ceremonies here.  

Sarah Collins Rudolph was selected to receive a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Sarah Collins Rudolph

It had been a dream of Sarah Collins Rudolph to become a nurse. This was a dream which was taken from her when she became the survivor of the Birmingham church bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This horrific event was perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan. She was 12 years old when this bombing occurred, resulting in the death of four young girls, including her sister, and the loss of her right eye. She still has a piece of glass in her left eye which cannot be removed without the complete loss of her sight. She has spent years seeking restitution for the physical and mental trauma that she suffered as a result of this terrorist attack.

The explosion of September 15, 1963 shook not only the whole city of Birmingham, but the United States. This was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. This event was described by Martin Luther King Jr. as "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity." The images of that tragedy provided the nation and the wider world with a visual image of racism and its horrors. This moment would also have a profound influence on future civil rights legislation and advocacy, including creating support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Congress.

Rudolph has given numerous talks about her experiences. In 2002, she was honored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) with a Harmony Award for demonstrating bravery at the time of this tragedy. Her story has been told in several books, most recently in a collaboration with Wright State University professor, Tracy Snipe, titled, "The Fifth Little Girl: Soul Survivor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing." She participated in the 50th  anniversary events in the city of Birmingham around the events of 1963. She has become a civil rights icon as she uses her voice to advocate and educate.

In 2020, Rudolph lobbied for, and received, a formal apology from Governor Kay Ivey on behalf of the State of Alabama for not doing more to prevent the bombing. Rudolph was recently recognized by President Biden for her advocacy and is clearly a shining example of overcoming trauma and creating a platform for a better society for all.

Steven Kahn was selected to receive a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Steven Kahn

Dr. Steven Kahn earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics at Stony Brook University and a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland before moving to Detroit and joining Wayne State University in 1981 as a professor of mathematics. During his early years as a professor, he taught college courses during the day and volunteered his time at the high school development center, where he worked with students who were expelled from their high schools. Dr. Kahn spent five years working with approximately 20 students, but soon realized that more could be done to meet the needs of at-risk students in Detroit.

Dr. Kahn partnered with Leonard Boehm to form the Math Corps in 1991. Together, they created a combined academic and mentoring program for Detroit Public Schools, designed to provide support for students as they pursue their education from elementary and middle school through high school and, ultimately, college. The cornerstone programs include Math Corps, which provides a summer camp, year-round Saturday programs and enrichment courses for middle and high school students, and at the college level, the WSU Emerging Scholars Program.

Dr. Kahn and Math Corps have received multiple awards, including national recognition for positively impacting children in Detroit. He received the Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Award from the Mathematical Association of America-Michigan, and was a finalist for Wayne State University’s Spirit of Community Award. In 2016, Math Corps was awarded the New York Life Foundation’s coveted Excellence in Summer Learning Award. That same year, the National Science Foundation awarded Math Corps nearly $3 million to replicate its summer program nationwide. 

Dr. Kahn’s enduring commitment has enabled Math Corps to expand beyond the boundaries of Detroit, and into a partnership with Oakland University that will benefit the children of Pontiac. His passion for helping others and growing Math Corps has become a lifelong mission that inspires others to get involved and give back.

Dominic Moceri was selected to receive a Doctor of Arts, honoris causa.

Dominic Moceri

Dominic Moceri received his degree in finance from the University of Detroit Mercy. He is the past president of the Building Industry Association of Southeast Michigan and sits on the board of directors for Rainbow Connection. In 1998, he was named by Crain’s Detroit Business as a “40 under 40” community leader. 

Moceri is a partner and director of finance and development at Moceri Companies. His company builds new construction, custom homes, new developments, independent senior living and luxury apartments in townships and cities throughout southeast Michigan. The company’s work can be found in Auburn Hills, Birmingham, Clinton Township, Orion Township, Rochester Hills and Rochester. 

Moceri has been instrumental in providing leadership and vision in an ever-changing market, as well as building an earnest reputation for himself and the Moceri family through hard work and dedication. In 2014, Moceri Companies was recognized by the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan for its development of Pinnacle, a community of luxury homes seated within The Oaklands. The Oaklands is comprised of seven Moceri neighborhoods, each with distinct architectural features and amenities, in Oakland Township. The company was awarded three top building awards, including Builder of the Year and Community of the Year; Moceri was named Developer of the Year. A donor to Rainbow Connection, his company is also a major supporter of Beaumont Hospital and other community organizations. 

The students of Oakland University have benefited from Moceri and Moceri Companies’ commitment to education. In 2018, the Moceri family created the Moceri Scholars Program in The Honors College at Oakland University. Moceri Scholars represent the highest level of academic achievement and civic commitment and are selected according to academic merit, evidence of visionary and aspirational thinking, and commitment to helping others. The Moceri Scholars program cultivates the leadership skills of students in The Honors College, thus preparing them to make positive contributions within their communities.

Honorary degrees are awarded by OU’s Board of Trustees in recognition of distinguished accomplishment and service within the scope of the arts and letters, sciences, professions and public service as recognized and supported by the University. The awarding of honorary degrees reaffirms Oakland University’s scholarly, creative and humanitarian values, and ties the university to the community at large.

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