Chicago, IL,
16:15 PM

Scholar and Journalist to be Awarded Honorary Degrees

For Immediate Release

Two nationally influential leaders who epitomize the values of Governors State University will receive honorary degrees for their lifetime commitment to equity, inclusion, and excellence at the university’s 46th commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 20 at the Tinley Park Convention Center.

Dr. Shaun R. Harper and journalist Bob Abernethy embody the spirit of GSU’s mission and will be honored for their commitment to the transformative power of knowledge and understanding.

“In Shaun Harper and Bob Abernethy, GSU finds reflections of values we hold dear and manifestations of principles we uphold,” said GSU President Elaine P. Maimon. “Shaun Harper’s mission to explore and instill racial equity in academia is a cornerstone of the public square at Governors State University. Bob Abernethy’s devotion to educating the public on all religions and creeds mirrors GSU’s dedication to understanding our diverse world.”

Shaun Harper is a scholar and the foremost leader in the national conversation concerning race, gender, and equity in American education. His revolutionary work on race matters in higher education sheds light on inequities affecting minorities in America and impacts the opinions of policymakers. In 2015, he was appointed to President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper advisory council. From the founding of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at University of Pennsylvania to his next venture leading the USC Center on Race and Equity in California, Harper is blazing trails on the educational landscape.

Bob Abernethy pioneered television programming that examined religion and ethics, helping his viewers better understand the roles of each in the world around them. He created Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, an award-winning PBS program that propelled mainstream spiritual dialogue, and analyzed the intricacies of morality and the characteristics of faith at the intersection of politics and culture. The show ended its 20-year run in February 2017. Prior to his work at PBS, Abernethy was a political correspondent for NBC, covering events from the assassination of JFK to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Governors State University will hold its annual commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 20 at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Shaun R. Harper will be honored during the 10 a.m. ceremony; Bob Abernethy will be honored at the 5 p.m. ceremony. Admission to the commencement ceremonies is by ticket only. Dr. Harper and Mr. Abernethy will meet with students Friday, May 19 at Governors State.


Governors State University serves 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students with degree programs that prepare them for success in business, industry, healthcare, the arts and education. As a state university, GSU is committed to providing high-quality, accessible, and responsible higher education opportunities. GSU is located 35 miles south of Chicago in University Park, IL and offers the most affordable undergraduate tuition and fees in Chicagoland. GSU is committed to embracing diversity and academic excellence.