Linda Thomas-Greenfield has been heralded as one of the most dynamic and effective diplomats of her time and one of the most respected leaders at the State Department. A former ambassador to Liberia lauded for her international humanitarian work, Thomas-Greenfield will be awarded honorary doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May.

Two other recipients: David Fahey, whose research has helped protect the Earth’s ozone layer and climate and Jerome Chazen, a co-founder and former chairman of Liz Claiborne Inc., will be honored at the spring commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11, at the Kohl Center.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s career in the U.S. foreign service spanned 35 years, most recently as assistant secretary for African affairs in the Obama administration. She was nominated jointly by the Department of Political Science and the African Studies Program.

“She began her career as a scholar of Africa at the UW Department of Political Science and carried that passion and expertise into her long, distinguished diplomatic career, where she broke racial and gender barriers, excelled in diverse key areas and oversaw several major foreign policy initiatives, while ascending to several senior leadership positions at the Department of State,” writes J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., in a letter supporting her nomination.

Jerome Chazen

Chazen rose to the top tier of business retailers as one of four founders in 1975 of Liz Claiborne Inc. By 1989, Fortune magazine recognized it as the largest women’s apparel company in the country. Fahey conducts leading-edge research on atmospheric trace gases and aerosols. He’s considered one of the world’s top climate scientists, credited with helping prevent great harm to humanity through his contributions to an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol.

Honorary doctorates from UW-Madison recognize individuals with careers of extraordinary accomplishment. The Committee on Honorary Degrees considers sustained and uncommonly meritorious activity exhibiting values that are esteemed by a great university. Preference is given to people connected in some significant way to the state or university, though that is not a prerequisite. All three of this year’s honorees are UW-Madison graduates.