Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

Robert Rosner
Robert Rosner

Abraham Verghese
Abraham Verghese

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

December 4, 2007

NIU will award honorary degrees
to Argonne Director Robert Rosner,
author and physician Abraham Verghese

DeKalb, Ill. — Northern Illinois University will present honorary doctoral degrees to Robert Rosner, director of Argonne National Laboratory, and to Dr. Abraham Verghese, a best-selling author and professor of medicine at Stanford University.

Both Rosner and Verghese are expected to be on hand to accept their honorary degrees during the 9 a.m. commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the NIU Convocation Center.

“We’re honored to be welcoming two very distinguished and influential scholars to campus for the presentation of their honorary doctoral degrees,” NIU President John Peters said. “Both Dr. Rosner and Dr. Verghese are known worldwide for their outstanding contributions in the fields of science and medicine.”

“NIU awards honorary degrees on a very limited basis, recognizing people who have made great accomplishments in fields of interest to the university,” added NIU Provost Raymond Alden. “Drs. Rosner and Verghese clearly meet the criteria.”

An internationally recognized astrophysicist, Rosner has been director of Argonne National Laboratory since April 2005 and previously served as chief scientist at the laboratory. His leadership and farsightedness in addressing national needs in science and engineering are widely recognized. Rosner is among the country’s leading thinkers in energy research and development, accelerator science, computational science and nanotechnology, and he serves on numerous scientific advisory committees in the United States and abroad.

“Dr. Rosner has been the leading proponent of collaborations between Argonne and national laboratories and universities, including NIU,” said Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School.

“The university’s collaborations with Argonne have provided graduate and undergraduate students with access to unique and revolutionary experimental tools for basic research in science and engineering,” Bose added. “As laboratory director, Dr. Rosner also has supported joint appointments with NIU of scientists and joint fellowships for NIU graduate students.”

Rosner holds a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. He served as chairman of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago from 1991 to1997, and since 1998 has been the university's William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001 and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Dr. Abraham Verghese is the Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford and the author of two well-known books.

Verghese’s first book, “My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story,” a memoir about treating AIDS patients in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1994 and named by Time magazine as one of the five best books of the year. The book also was made into a Showtime original movie.

His second book, “The Tennis Partner,” a compelling story of drug addiction and friendship, was a New York Times notable book and a national bestseller. Verghese continues to write for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on a regular basis.

“Dr. Verghese is not only a distinguished scholar but also an extraordinary writer and visible communicator on topics of vital interest to society, ranging from infectious disease to medical ethics,” Bose said. “His accomplishments extend well beyond the field of medicine.”

Prior to his recent appointment at Stanford, Verghese served as director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. He is an accomplished physician, certified in three fields: infectious diseases, pulmonary diseases and internal medicine.

A graduate of Madras University in India, Verghese trained as a resident and chief resident in internal medicine at East Tennessee State University and as a fellow in infectious diseases at Boston University. From 1991 to 2002, he was a professor of medicine at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, El Paso. He has published extensively on a variety of diseases including pneumonia, bacterial bronchitis, cellulitis syndrome, respiratory infections and AIDS.

In receiving honorary degrees from NIU, both Rosner and Verghese join distinguished company. Past recipients of honorary doctoral degrees from NIU have included former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, distinguished historian Arthur Schlesinger, former Argonne Director Hermann Grunder, U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and astronomer Carl Sagan.