Cisco CEO, six others get Duke honorary degrees

Posted February 9, 2011 4:03 p.m. EST

— Duke University in Durham will award honorary degrees to seven people during its commencement ceremony in May, Duke President Richard H. Brodhead announced Wednesday.

John Chambers, the chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, is one of the honorary degree recipients. He was also selected as this year's commencement speaker.

Chambers attended Duke's engineering school in 1967 before transferring to West Virginia University, where he finished his undergraduate degree in business. He went on to get a law degree at WVU and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University.

He took over as chairman and CEO at Cisco in 1995. During his tenure at the communications and technology company based in San Jose, Calif., annual revenues have exploded – from $1.2 billion in 1995 to $40 billion today, according to Duke's Office of News and Communications. Cisco has an office in Research Triangle Park in Morrisville.

Chambers and Cisco have given large donations to local education initiatives, and Chambers has been involved in global efforts to improve access to education, according to the university.

The other honorary degree recipients are: Rita Dove, an English professor, author and former U.S. poet laureate; James B. Hunt, former North Carolina governor and public education advocate; Alan Page, an NFL Hall of Fame member, judge and education activist; Lisa Randall, a professor of theoretical physics; Eric Shinseki, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans and former Army chief of staff; and Tan Chorh Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore and an international leader in biomedical science, public health and higher education.

"I'm delighted that these distinguished individuals will be joining our graduates for commencement," Brodhead said. "They give an inspiring example of the great lives that men and women can give to the world."