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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

April 12, 2000 Contact: Amanda Mazur (312) 996-7681; amazur@uic.edu


The University of Illinois at Chicago will present two honorary degrees during the 2000 commencement ceremony on May 7.

Leon Despres, former 5th Ward alderman, and Susan Hendrickson, explorer, diver, and fossil hunter, will each receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

The university bestows honorary degrees on those individuals who have helped expand knowledge and performed exemplary service in ways that are viewed as an extension of our own mission and dedication to teaching, service and research," says David Sokol, professor and chair of the senate external relations committee.

Despres, 91, is an attorney, former city official, parliamentarian and teacher. Despres was referred to as the "conscience of the Chicago City Council," where he served for 20 years as an independent alderman. He was a key figure in civic improvements, education, and ethics and good government.

In his nomination letter of Despres, Dick Simpson, professor of political science and a former Chicago alderman himself, writes, "In my view, Leon Despres is the greatest alderman in Chicago's 160-year history." He adds, "Due to Chicago's role in the world, he has had an effect on the struggle for democracy and social justice far beyond the city's borders."

Hendrickson, 48, is noted for giving scientists and museums access to the materials she finds and holding scientific knowledge above personal gain. Although not formally trained, Hendrickson became prolific in her chosen profession and highly respected by colleagues, universities and museums.

In 1990, she made one her greatest discoveries, a 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, found in the South Dakota badlands. This fossil, which bears her name, Sue, is the largest and most complete T. rex of the 22 ever found. It will be unveiled to the public on May 17 at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

"Susan is a determined person with a passion for learning and a willingness to pursue her passion," said Donald Marshall, professor and head of the department of English, who will present Hendrickson with her honorary degree. "She will be an inspiring presence at commencement."

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area and one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the entire metropolitan region.

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