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2023 Honorary Degree Recipients

The University of Utah is proud to announce the following honorary degree recipients during the 2023 University Commencement ceremony. 

Frances P. Battle

Frances P. Battle Honorary Degree RecipientFor more than four decades, Frances P. Battle has dedicated her life to educating Salt Lake City’s youth. She started her career as an English teacher at Jordan Intermediate School in 1975, taught at Glendale Middle School, served as principal of Northwest Middle School and Bryant Middle School and currently works as the principal at Nibley Park Middle School. Many students who attended and graduated from the university did so with her encouragement, mentoring, letters of recommendation and willingness to engage students, faculty and parents in systemic changes at the schools she led. A strong advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, Battle serves on the Pastor France A. Davis Scholarship Fund and Zions Bank Community boards and was previously on the board of Ballet West. In 2020, Battle was recognized by the Utah Jazz as one of the team’s Black History Month honorees. Battle graduated from Morris Brown College, an HBCU in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a master’s degree in education from Westminster College in 1978. She is married to Jerome Battle, former chief information officer of Salt Lake County.

Bill Higuchi

Bill Higuchi Honorary Degree RecipientBill Higuchi is a longtime U professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry, where his tenure spanned from 1982 to 2007. Higuchi’s academic career started in 1959 at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked for three years, before spending 20 years at the University of Michigan. Higuchi earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley. His research focused on optimizing drug transport efficiency through the skin, mucosal membranes and within the gastrointestinal tract, and improving drug residence time inside target sites of the body. He also pioneered tooth and bone preservation bio-mineralization models and was a co-founder and board chair of Utah biopharmaceutical companies TheraTech, Lipocine, Spriaso and Aciont. Higuchi has received an honorary degree from the University of Michigan and Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun. He serves on the advisory board of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, which works to preserve the Japanese internment center where he met his late wife Setsuko as a child during World War II.

Dick Marriott

Ruth V. Watkins Honorary Degree RecipientDick Marriott began his career in the hospitality industry working as a teenager in his parents’ Hot Shoppes restaurants. He officially joined the Marriott company as a manager in 1965 after graduating from Harvard Business School. A U alum (B.S. ’63, finance), Marriott has been actively engaged with charitable and nonprofit organizations. He has served as chair of both the Polynesian Cultural Center and Bridges from School to Work, as well as on the boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National Ability Center and as a member of the National Advisory Council of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School. Under his leadership, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation has been involved with mental health initiatives through the University of Utah’s Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) and continues to support fine arts, business and the Marriott Library at the university. A dedicated philanthropist, Marriott and his wife Nancy, also a graduate of the U (B.S. ’63, elementary education), signed the Giving Pledge in 2013.

Camilla Smith

Camilla Smith Honorary Degree RecipientLongtime philanthropist and supporter of education, Camilla Smith is a trustee of many national and community boards, including the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, the PBS Foundation, the NPR Foundation, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the University of California—Berkeley Library and the Science Friday Initiative. Smith received her bachelor’s degree in English and French from Brigham Young University in 1968 and her master’s degree in English Education from Columbia University in 1972. She worked in publishing, including for G.P. Putnam’s Sons Publishers and Columbia University Teacher’s College Press and at the New York City Board of Education. She is the current editor of UC Berkeley’s Bancroftiana, a newsletter about the institution’s special collections. Her husband George Smith, Jr., is the co-founder and president of Signature Books. Most recently, she is the past president and trustee of the Leakey Foundation, whose mission is to increase scientific knowledge, education and public understanding of human origins. The Leakey Foundation’s communication and outreach award is named after her.

Last Updated: 5/11/23