Honorary Degree Recipients

Honorary Degree Recipients 2022

Since 1984, it has been a tradition at The American University of Paris to award honorary degrees as a way of recognizing a distinguished person’s contributions to a specific field or to society in general. An honorary degree is very often awarded to distinguished individuals whose accomplishments are consistent with the mission and core values of AUP.

Obioma Nnaemeka is the Chancellor’s Professor of French, Gender/Women’s Studies, and Africana Studies, and a former Director of the Women’s Studies Program at Indiana University, Indianapolis, USA. She is an internationally recognized literary scholar/theorist and gender expert. She has published extensively on the African Diaspora, African women, development, globalization, multiculturalism, and human rights. Her scholarship and civic engagement span five continents and thirty-eight African countries. She is the author of over sixty scholarly articles and author/editor of twelve books. 

Dr. Nnaemeka studied French, German, and African Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria), the former Université de Dakar (Senegal), Université de Grenoble (France), and the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) where she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. with distinction. She is a former Rockefeller Humanist-in-Residence (University of Minnesota), Edith Kreeger-Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor (Northwestern University), and Verne Wagner Distinguished Visiting Professor (University of Kansas). As the Founder/President of the Association of African Women Scholars, she collaborates with global networks committed to social change. 

She has received numerous national and international awards as well as grants and fellowships from several foundations and agencies, including The Rockefeller Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, UNIFEM, SIDA (Sweden), OSIWA, SAREC (Sweden), and IRDC (Canada). A widely sought consultant for the United Nations, the World Bank, many foreign governments, and international agencies, she serves on the Board of Directors of numerous non-governmental and international organizations and on the Advisory Boards of many scholarly journals. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Africana Gender Studies

Corinne Mentzelopoulos is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Château Margaux, one of the world’s most prestigious wine estates. 

Her father, André Mentzelopoulos, was born in Patras, Greece and her mother was French. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in classical literature and a Master’s degree from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris (Sciences-Po Paris) in 1979, Ms. Mentzelopoulos began her career at Havas, a major international advertising company, and then at Primistères, the company that oversaw the 1,600 Felix Potin supermarkets owned by her father. He had also purchased Château Margaux in 1977.

Ms. Mentzelopoulos took over as head of Château Margaux following her father’s untimely demise and has now managed the vineyard for over 40 years with an unwavering devotion to the estate’s five centuries of history and excellence. She is recognized worldwide as one of the most prominent women in the wine business and one of France’s most acclaimed women entrepreneurs.

She is also an active philanthropist and co-founder of the Hellenic Initiative, a New-York based foundation committed to philanthropy in Greece. Her interests also include French cultural and historical monuments, such as the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Musée du Louvre. She is a longtime trustee of the Salk Institute in San Diego and currently serves as a trustee of AUP.

A mother of three, she was delighted to welcome to the Château Margaux team both her daughter Alexandra in 2012 and her son Alexis in 2020. Alexis graduated from AUP in 2017.

Corinne Mentzelopoulos was awarded the distinction of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government in 2012She was also awarded the Grand Cross pro Merito Melitensi by the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Leila Conners ’89 founded Tree Media Group in 1996. With a background in international politics, she set out to build a production company that creates media to support and sustain civil society by covering global stories and frameworks that allow people to envision a positive pathway forward. Since the inception of Tree Media, she has helmed over 100 media projects and has collaborated with global institutions, organizations, Hollywood studios, and media companies, among them NASA, the United Nations, the Scripps Institute for Oceanography, the Pentagon, the Smithsonian, Harvard University, Green Cross International, and HBO.

Ms. Conners’ most recent film, Ice on Fire for HBO with Leonardo DiCaprio, premiered in Cannes in 2019. Prior to Ice on Fire, she directed a documentary with President Mikhail Gorbachev entitled The Arrow of Time that premiered at the Zurich International Film Festival in 2017. She also directed We the People 2.0, a feature documentary about community and nature rights that premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival. Ms. Conners has directed a series of 18 short films, one of which, Biomimicry, premiered at SXSWeco.

Prior to founding Tree Media, Ms. Conners was an editor for various publications and has interviewed famed thinkers and policy makers including Kofi Annan, Nafis Sadik, Betty Friedan, Hans Bethe, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali among others. She has been published in newspapers and magazines around the world including the International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Yomiuri Shimbun and Wired. In 1991, Ms. Conners translated from the French Jacques Attali's book, Millennium, for Random House. Ms. Conners is often invited to speak on issues of sustainability and the environment and has served on panels nationally and internationally. She and her sons live in the Hudson Valley, New York.

Previous Honorary Degree Recipients

Honorary degrees have been awarded at AUP's commencement ceremony since 1984. Honorary degree recipients often give lectures or presentations in the days preceding commencement. These events are open to the public and provide graduates and their families with the opportunity to meet awardees in informal settings. One or more of the recipients is often invited to give a commencement address before the assembled faculty, graduates and parents – an event that is often the highlight of the ceremony. The following renowned scholars, artists, writers, political figures and researchers have received honorary degrees from AUP. 

Honorable Arthur Hartman

Pierre Salinger

Gene Kelly
Sir Stephen Spender

Vicomte Etienne Davignon
Elizabeth McCormack

Daniel Socolow
Simone Veil

Helen Ahrweiler
Georges Duby
Luc Montagnier
Jessye Norman

I. M. Pei
William Styron


Maurice Allais
Francois Perigot

Bernard Kouchner
Simon Weisenthal

Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Olivia de Havilland

Glenn W. Ferguson
Jeannine Manuel
Frederico Mayor
H. E. Sa’eed Salman

Christiane Amanpour
Pamela Harriman
Richard C. Holbrooke
Harry Wu

Van Gordon Sauter
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Russell Porter
The Honorable Felix G. Rohatyn

Chloe Wellingham Aaron

Martin Gray

Peter W. Goldmark
Willem Peppler

Eunice Kennedy Shriver
The Honorable R. Sargent Shriver, Jr.

Sir Crispin Tickell

Yehuda Elkana

Dr. Taslima Nasreen
Dame Muriel Spark
Dr. Tzvetan Todorov

Barry Eichengreen
Mavis Gallant
Michel Rocard

Edmond Alphandery
James Ivory

Daniel Cohen
Paul Muldoon

Naif Abdullah Al-Rukaibi
Leslie Caron
Reza Deghati
Christine Lagarde

J.M. Coetzee
Eugene Lang
Robert Wilson

Jane Goodall
Rory Stewart

Richard Ned Lebow
David McCullough
Archie Shepp

Louise Arbour
Martha Nussbaum

Edward A. Frieman
Lillian Greene-Chamberlain
Judith Hermanson Ogilvie
Nicholas Vreeland

Lisa Anderson
Margee Ensign
Benjamin Millepied

Justice Stephen Breyer
Bertie Lubner
Kenneth Roth

Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi ’98
Her Excellency Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis '83
Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns

Rachael Denhollander
Claudia Rankine
Kaija Saariaho

Margaret MacMillan
Marian Goodman
Ali Rahnema


Daniel Rose '00