Professor Mahmoud El-Kati (left), Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (center), Dr. Kate Bowler ’02

As part of Macalester’s Commencement celebrations, the college will award honorary degrees to the following individuals:

  • Professor Mahmoud El-Kati, whose 33 years as a Macalester professor have had a deep and enduring impact on our community; 
  • Bioethicist and international expert in health and science policy Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who will serve as the keynote speaker for the Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony; and 
  • Bestselling author and Duke professor Dr. Kate Bowler ’02, who will serve as the keynote speaker for the Class of 2020 and 2021 Graduation Celebration.

“We are honored to celebrate these three professionals, each of whom has had a deep impact on their communities, and each of whom lives the values of Macalester College,” said President Suzanne M. Rivera. “We look forward to welcoming them to campus this spring and sharing this distinction with them.”

Professor Mahmoud El-Kati taught history at Macalester from 1970–2003 inspiring generations of students with lessons and discussions that many recall, in detail, decades later. For many students, particularly for Black students, he served as a mentor who empowered and challenged them and guided their self-discovery. Throughout his career, his teaching and scholarship have been woven together with his experiences as a community leader, activist, and commentator on the African American experience. His legacy is celebrated today in the Mahmoud El-Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies, established in 2008 by Stanley M. Berry ’75, Bertram M. Days ’74, and Ava B. Days. He will receive an honorary degree at the Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony. 

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel is an oncologist and world leader in health policy and bioethics. He serves as the University of Pennsylvania’s vice provost for global initiatives and is co-director of Penn’s Health Transformation Institute. Emanuel is a special advisor to the director general of the World Health Organization, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the founding chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and held that position until August of 2011. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a special advisor on health policy to the director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council. In this role, he was instrumental in drafting the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He will receive an honorary degree at the Class of 2022 Commencement ceremony, and will serve as that ceremony’s keynote speaker. 

Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m. in the Macalester Stadium, and will include a bagpipe procession, remarks from a senior class speaker, and presentation of diplomas to members of the Class of 2022. Tickets are reserved for guests of graduates, as well as faculty and staff. Commencement details and a live broadcast of the event on the day of the ceremony can be found at

Dr. Kate Bowler, Macalester Class of 2002, is a New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and associate professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke University. 

She studies the cultural stories we tell ourselves about success, suffering, and whether (or not) we’re capable of change. After being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35, she penned three New York Times bestsellers including Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved). She will receive an honorary degree during the Graduation Celebration for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, and will serve as their keynote speaker. 

Members of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 were unable to experience a traditional Macalester Commencement ceremony due to event restrictions because of COVID-19. The ceremony honoring the members of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 will be held on Sunday, May 15, at 10 a.m. in the Macalester Stadium. Details can be found at

April 11 2022

Back to top