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University bestows three honorary degrees during Meliora Weekend

October 14, 2017

The University recognized the outstanding contributions of three distinguished individuals during Meliora Weekend by bestowing honorary degrees upon Chick Corea, in recognition of his remarkable musical contributions and international impact on jazz, contemporary music and culture; Steve Gadd ’68E, for his tremendous accomplishments in American popular music and being one the most revered and imitated percussionists in the world; and Hugo F. Sonnenschein ’61, a distinguished economist and academic leader in higher education with a dedication to the idea that seeking the truth is fundamental to making the world ever better.

Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea
Honorary Doctor of Music Degree

Since beginning his professional career, Corea has had an unparalleled career as a jazz pianist, keyboardist and composer. Starting in the 1960s as a pianist for trumpeter Blue Mitchell, he was soon performing as a solo artist with jazz legends of all styles: Stan Getz, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Bobby McFerrin, Herbie Hancock, Béla Fleck, Pat Metheny, and The Manhattan Transfer, to name a few. He is also a prolific performer and recording artist with his bands Return to Forever, the 5 Peace Band, Elektric Band and The Vigil.

Corea is one of the pioneers of jazz fusion, and his musical career has traveled among many different musical styles: Latin jazz, avant-garde, rock, and funk. He has also composed several classical works, including a piano concerto and a string quartet.

Chick Corea (left) and Steve Gadd ’68E

He has been nominated for an astounding 63 Grammy Awards and has won 22 of them. His other honors include a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters Award. Corea’s creative career was commemorated in a 2011 retrospective with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and he celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 by playing with more than 20 different groups at the Blue Note.

Stephen Kendall Gadd ’68E
Honorary Doctor of Music Degree

Since the 1960s, Gadd has been among the most popular and most recorded American drummers. As a percussionist and session musician, he is equally brilliant in jazz and rock drumming. He is a Rochester native and received a bachelor’s degree in music from the Eastman School Music in 1968.

Gadd has been a member of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame since 1984, and has long had a reputation as a “drummer’s drummer,” no matter what music he is playing.

In 1975, he recorded drums for Paul Simon’s album Still Crazy After All These Years, which won a Grammy for best album of the year in 1976. In 1977, Gadd played the drums on Steely Dan’s classic album Aja. The list of great musicians he has worked with is long and includes James Taylor, Eric Clapton and Chick Corea, his Meliora Weekend performance partner in “Eastman Presents: An Evening with the Corea/Gadd Band.” Gadd and Corea have recorded several very successful albums together over the years, including The Leprechaun, which won two Grammy Awards in 1977.

At the 2015 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Gadd recorded Way Back Home: Live From Rochester, NY, which was nominated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.

Hugo F. Sonnenschein ’61
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree

photo of Hugo Sonnenschein

Hugo Sonnenschein ’61

Sonnenschein is the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished University Professor, president emeritus, and honorary trustee at the University of Chicago. He is one of the nation’s most distinguished academic leaders.

As president of the University of Chicago, provost at Princeton University, and dean at the University of Pennsylvania, he has guided some of the country’s preeminent institutions to new levels of academic and scholarly achievement. Intrigued by the important and eternal questions that can best be asked by colleges and universities, he has engaged colleagues, civic representatives and fellow citizens to take part in a conversation about the fundamental role that higher education plays in the success of American society.

As president of Chicago from 1993 to 2000, Sonnenschein set a visionary course to raise the celebrated university’s profile even higher. He oversaw increases in student applications, increases in enrolled students’ test scores, the launch of a campus-planning initiative, and the near tripling of Chicago’s endowment.

A specialist in microeconomic theory, Sonnenschein’s pioneering work continues to shape economic theory and includes understanding how families and other small groups make decisions. As a member of one of the world’s storied economics departments, he is known as a gifted and generous mentor who has supervised some of the most prominent economic theorists of a generation. He is also widely recognized for his contributions in such areas as social choice, competition, and game theory.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1961 from the University, and since 1992 has been a Board of Trustees member, as well as a dedicated volunteer leader, trusted advisor and loyal supporter of the University.

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