Six people with university ties are among 13 recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced on Thursday. The award, the nation’s highest honor granted to civilians, recognizes people who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
The academic winners are: Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, who has taught at Georgetown University; William Foege, the public-health pioneer who is an emeritus professor at Emory University; the late Gordon Hirabayashi, who fought the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and later was a sociology professor at the University of Alberta; the late Jan Karski, an officer in the Polish Underground and eyewitness to Nazi atrocities who later taught at Georgetown; Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who teaches at Princeton University; and Pat Summitt, who this month stepped down as head coach of women’s basketball at the University of Tennessee, and the NCAA basketball coach with the most wins ever.
The other medal winners are John Doar, the civil-rights figure; Bob Dylan, the musician; John Glenn, the astronaut and U.S. senator; Dolores Huerta, the labor leader; the late Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts founder; Shimon Peres, the Israeli political leader; and John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court justice.
Correction (4/27/2012, 12:53 p.m.): This post originally did not note the academic ties of William Foege, a public-health pioneer who is an emeritus professor at Emory University. The post has been updated to include that information.