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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Steve Case, four others, to receive honorary degrees at Commencement

Steve Case, businessman, philanthropist and co-founder of America Online, will deliver the 2013 Commencement address on May 12 and receive a doctor of laws degree. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Kenan Stadium.

Four others – noted for outstanding accomplishments in their fields – will also receive honorary degrees.


Bernard Flatow, who has spent his career making connections between America and Latin America, will receive a doctor of laws degree.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Carolina in 1941 and became a diplomat in the world of business and public relations.

In the 1950s, Flatow worked in Bolivia as director of public relations for one of the largest tin mining companies in the world and then for The Texas Company and Sinclair in Colombia and Venezuela. He later handled public relations in Latin America for Pepsi-Cola and 20th Century Fox.

With these contacts, he started exchange programs: one bringing 54 Mexican professionals in 21 areas of study to Chapel Hill; one between Venezuela and Kenan–Flagler Business School; and another with specialists in physical therapy and rehabilitation of the blind between Mexico and the School of Medicine.

Flatow was the first North American member of the Mexican Institute of Culture, and his collection of rare books pertaining to the early history of European contacts with the New World is housed in Carolina’s Rare Book Collection.

His awards include the General Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Board of Trustees’ William Richardson Davie Award and the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America.


Joel Fleishman, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Governor’s School and the North Carolina School of the Arts, will receive a doctor of laws degree.

Fleishman earned three degrees from Carolina and one from Yale, and he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and the Order of the Golden Fleece. He has made extraordinary contributions as a professor, university administrator, author, scholar, public servant, philanthropist and expert on fine wines.

After completing his studies at Yale, Fleishman joined the administration of Gov. Terry Sanford where he helped establish the Governor’s School and the N.C. School of the Arts. He later helped Sanford, then president of Duke University, to found what is now the Sanford School of Public Policy.

He held a series of senior leadership positions at Duke culminating in his appointment as first senior vice president. In 1993, he became president of The Atlantic Philanthropic Service Company and returned to Duke in 2003 to provide leadership in numerous initiatives. Along the way, he wrote a monthly column on wine for Vanity Fair.

His honors include Carolina’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, Duke University’s University Medal and honorary degrees from Methodist College and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.


Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), will receive a doctor of laws degree.

Under his leadership, UMBC established the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1998 to identify, recruit and prepare future African-American scientists, engineers and mathematicians. The highly selective program, while maintaining a focus on minority students, is now open to all students interested in those fields.

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Hrabowski was a child leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He participated in the Children’s March in 1963 and spent five days in the Birmingham City Jail. He was featured in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary, “Four Little Girls,” which told the story of the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

In addition to numerous articles and chapters, he is the co-author of two books and is a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education, among others.

He holds honorary degrees from Princeton, Harvard, Duke, Georgetown, Michigan and more than 15 other institutions. Time named him one of “America’s Ten Best College Presidents” in 2009 and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2012.


Mary Pope Osborne, author of the “Magic Tree House” series, will receive a doctor of letters degree.

Osborne believes that all children should have the opportunity to develop a passion for reading. She is a leading advocate for literacy, working to provide access to books for children in need throughout the world.

When Osborne was 15, her military family settled in Fayetteville, where her father retired. She enrolled in Carolina, earning her bachelor’s degrees in dramatic art and religious studies in 1971. After traveling all over the Middle East, living in a cave in Crete, enduring an earthquake in Afghanistan and surviving blood poisoning in Nepal, she settled in Washington, D.C., and married Will Osborne, another UNC alumnus.

Osborne moved to New York City, where she started the “Magic Tree House” series. The most popular series of children’s books of all time, it has been published in more than 35 languages and sold more than 100 million copies. Will Osborne created a full-scale musical adaptation, “Magic Tree House: The Musical,” that premiered in 2007, and his “Magic Tree House: Space Mission” plays daily at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Osborne’s honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Random House Sales Force and the presidency of the Authors Guild.

Doctoral hooding ceremony

Social scientist Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, will be the keynote speaker for the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on May 11 at 10 a.m. at the Smith Center.

Visit for more information about Commencement activities.