University Announces Honorary Degree Recipients

Alumni Thad Allen and Harriet Mayor Fulbright to be honored at university-wide Commencement ceremony.

Harriet Mayor Fulbright and Thad Allen
Harriet Mayor Fulbright and Thad Allen.
March 25, 2013

International education advocate Harriet Mayor Fulbright, M.F.A. ’75, and 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, M.P.A. ’86, will receive honorary degrees at the George Washington University Commencement on May 19.

Adm. Allen, senior vice president of the management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, and Ms. Fulbright, former executive director of the Fulbright Association and honorary president of Harriet Fulbright College, will join fellow GW alumna and Commencement speaker Kerry Washington, B.A. ’98, on the National Mall to address the Colonials class of 2013.

“Both Ms. Fulbright and Admiral Allen exemplify the university’s ideals of public service, leadership and integrity,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “I believe they will be an inspiration for our graduates as they prepare to embark upon their own career paths.”

A graduate of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, Adm. Allen gained national recognition in 2001 for his leadership of the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area forces following the September 11 attacks.

He also helped manage the U.S. response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and served as the Department of Homeland Security’s national incident manager for the Deepwater Horizon Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Adm. Allen is currently a member of the Trachtenberg School Advisory Board, a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the director of the Coast Guard Foundation and Partnership for Public Service.

Among his honors are the George Washington University’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and its Colin Powell Public Service Award.

Adm. Allen earned a B.A. from the Coast Guard Academy and an M.S. in management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served in the Coast Guard for nearly 40 years until his retirement from the service in 2010.

As the former executive director of the Fulbright Association and "unofficial ambassador" of the Fulbright Program, Ms. Fulbright has dedicated her life to the legacy begun by her late husband, Sen. J. William Fulbright, L.L.B. ’34, establishing herself as a preeminent teacher and advocate of education and the arts.

Ms. Fulbright served as president of the nonprofit J. William & Harriet Fulbright Center and is the current honorary president of the Harriet Fulbright College, an intensive international education institute based in Arlington, Va. For the past two decades, she has traveled the globe in support of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange, first proposed by Sen. Fulbright.

Ms. Fulbright’s teaching experience is extensive and includes positions at a wide range of schools from Washington, D.C.’s historic Maret School to Ewha Women’s University in South Korea. She currently serves on the National Council for Education and Human Development, the advisory board for GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

She has also played a leadership role in the arts. In 1997, President Bill Clinton named Ms. Fulbright the executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In that role, which she held until 2000, she worked to strengthen cultural program partnerships between public and private organizations. In addition, she has worked with numerous Washington arts institutions, including the National Gallery of Arts’ Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Congressional Arts Caucus.

Ms. Fulbright earned a B.A. in policy and government from Radcliffe College and a Master of Fine Arts from GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Adm. Allen and Ms. Fulbright join a list of distinguished honorary degree recipients, including former President George W. Bush, First Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NBC News anchor Brian Williams and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.