Gala celebrity guests to receive honorary degrees
PRINCESS ANNE, MD-(Feb. 28, 2012)-Celebrity guests appearing March 3 at the 2012 University of Maryland Eastern Shore Gala, “Lights, Camera, Action!” will receive honorary degrees.
“We are honored to present such deserving recipients honorary degrees recognizing their accomplishments and service to the community,” Dr. Mortimer Neufville, UMES’ interim president, said.
Tippi Hedren, known for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” will be awarded the Honorary Doctor of Public Service for her long-time commitment to humanitarian, environmental and animal conservation causes.
Hedren volunteered to set up relief programs following natural disasters and war as the international relief coordinator for Food for the Hungry. She lobbied Congress on behalf of Asian refugees, earning her the B’Hai Faith Humanitarian Award. The Celebrity Outreach Foundation has commended her for her charitable work with the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, International Orphans and several AIDS organizations.
Hedren is a leading voice speaking out against cruelly to animals and has been honored with many awards. She is founder of The Roar Foundation and resides at Shambala, a big cat compound for cast-offs from private owners, zoos and circuses.
S. Epatha Merkerson, Larry King, Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo are to receive the Doctor of Humane Letters.
Merkerson has won acclaim for her work in television, film and theater. Her portrayal of Lt. Anita Van Buren on the NBC series, “Law and Order,” earned her nine SAG Award nominations, two NAACP Image awards and an NAACP Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Her character was the longest-running African-American character in TV history. Merkerson also received Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG and NAACP awards for her role in the HBO film, “Lackawanna Blues.”
A Tony Award nominee, Merkerson teaches theater at New York College and mentors theater students at other schools. She is an advocate for lung cancer research and served as a board member for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
King, of CNN’s “Larry King Live” fame, is a broadcaster of 50 years and member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. King received the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting and won 10 Cable ACE awards for Best Interviewer and for Best Talk Show Series.
Proceeds from his books, speaking engagements and fundraising efforts support the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which he established in 1988. The Foundation underwrites life-saving medical treatment for those who would otherwise be unable to receive care due to limited means or no insurance.
Davis and McCoo, seven-time Grammy winners, were lead singers of late 1960s and early 70s group, “The 5th Dimension.” In an eight-year span, they had 30 songs on the pop charts, including, “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Up Up And Away,” and “Wedding Bell Blues.” The two left the group after a decade and established themselves as a duo. Their first chart-topping hit, “You Don’t Have to Be A Star,” earned them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo. McCoo was the first to record “Saving All My Love for You,” later sung by Whitney Houston. They went on to host their own show on CBS and had solo careers as well.
The honorary degrees will be awarded March 3 at a private ceremony prior to the Gala. VIP ticket holders can attend.
Proceeds from the Gala benefit the Gala Endowment Fund for student scholarships.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Robinson, director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355, email@example.com.