USC announces six honorary degrees

Six individuals will receive honorary degrees at the 2022 commencement ceremony, USC announced in a press release Tuesday. This year’s recipients include USC Trustee David C. Bohnett, five-time Olympian Allyson Felix, filmmakers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Frank Price and journalist Bina Venkataraman.

“In an age-old commencement tradition, honorary degrees chosen by a committee of students and faculty are conferred on remarkable individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the university and industry, education, philanthropy, athletics, leadership and other fields,” the announcement read.

David C. Bohnett, a USC alumnus, co-founded the widely successful web hosting service GeoCities with John Rezner in 1994. The site hosted at least 38 million web pages before ending its United States service 10 years later. Bohnett is openly gay and has been active in gay rights activism throughout his life; the David Bohnett Foundation continues to donate to LGBTQIA causes, as well as AIDS services and research. In 2020, he established the David C. Bohnett Residential College at USC Village.

Allyson Felix is the most decorated track-and-field athlete in American history. Felix earned her first Olympic medal — a silver in the 200-meter dash at the 2004 Athens games — while attending USC. She brought home 10 more after graduating in 2008, including seven gold, for a total of 11 Olympic medals — beating the previous record held by Carl Lewis. In 2019, Felix called for better treatment of working mothers. Now retired,  she runs her own women’s lifestyle brand, Saysh. Felix will also speak at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Brian Grazer, who graduated from USC in 1974, is the multi-award-winning producer of “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), which won Best Picture at the 2002 Academy Awards. Grazer’s works have received 47 Academy Award nominations and 202 Emmy nominations. Grazer also co-founded Impact, a content accelerator that has connected over 60,000 writers, and founded Imagine Entertainment with his long-time business partner and fellow recipient Ron Howard.

Ron Howard is the award-winning director of “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “Apollo 13” (1995), “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018), “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years” (2016), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000) and “The DaVinci Code” (2006) — among others. He also produced films including “tick, tick…BOOM!” (2021) and the Emmy-winning series “Arrested Development” (2003-2019). 

Frank Price is an influential former producer and studio executive, widely credited as having helped develop the “made-for-TV” movie and miniseries television formats. Price was also credited in films including “Gandhi” (1982), “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Back to the Future” (1985). He has also served as head of Universal TV. In 1987, he founded his own studio, Price Entertainment, which later merged with Columbia Pictures in 1991. Price is the founding chair of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Board of Councilors and has served on the USC Board of Trustees for more than 25 years.

Bina Venkataraman is a journalist, author and policy expert who has written for the New York Times and the Boston Globe, where she now serves as editor-at-large. Under the Obama administration, she served as senior advisor for climate change and advised the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Ebola epidemic. NPR named her 2019 bestselling book, “The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age,” as a best book of the year. Venkataraman spoke at USC’s 2021 commencement ceremony.