Wei Yang PhD ‘85 among eight honorary degree recipients at Brown Commencement

During its 244th Commencement, Brown University will confer eight honorary doctorates: Carolyn Bertozzi, biochemist; Viola Davis, actress; John Lewis, civil rights leader; Marilynne Robinson, writer; Sebastian Ruth, musician; Diane Sawyer, journalist; Gene Sharp, political theorist; and Wei Yang, engineer.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Eight people who have distinguished themselves through their efforts in the arts, sciences, letters, scholarship and public service will receive honorary degrees from Brown University at Commencement on Sunday, May 27, 2012:

·         Carolyn Bertozzi, chemist and immunologist;
·         Viola Davis, actress;
·         John Lewis, civil rights leader and U.S. representative;
·         Marilynne Robinson, writer and educator;
·         Sebastian Ruth, musician and educator;
·         Diane Sawyer, broadcast journalist;
·         Gene Sharp, political theorist, scholar of nonviolent change; and
·         Wei Yang, engineer.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the University’s Board of Fellows and are conferred by the University president — in English and in Latin — during Commencement exercises on the College Green.

None of the recipients will speak at the Commencement ceremony; that honor has been reserved since the University’s earliest days for two members of the graduating class. Several of the honorands will, however, participate in Commencement forums and other public presentations during Commencement Weekend. Information about times and places for these and other Commencement presentations will be available from the
 Office of Media Relations and on the University’s 2012 Commencement webpage.
Wei Yang  
Engineer and President of Zhejiang University
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)

Wei Yang, president of China’s Zhejiang University, is an internationally celebrated engineer and materials science researcher, educator, and administrator. He is a Ph.D. graduate of Brown University.

Born in Beijing, Yang was educated in the United States and China (B.S., Northwestern Polytechnic University, 1976; M.S., Tsinghua University, 1981; Ph.D., Brown University, 1985). Four years after earning his Ph.D., Yang was promoted to a full professor of engineering at Tsinghua University, the youngest person ever to achieve that rank.

In addition to continuing an active and very productive career as a research engineer in fracture mechanics, mechatronic reliability, and micro/nanomechanics (11 books and 211 technical papers in internationally refereed journals), Yang has served in a number of national and international positions as an educator and administrator. He became director of the Failure Mechanics Laboratory of the Chinese Ministry of Education in 1993. For seven years (1997–2004), he headed the Department of Engineering Mechanics at Tsinghua, also serving for a time as executive dean of the Aerospace School. From 2004 to 2006, he served as director-general of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council of China and also headed the Directorate of Graduate Education. He began as president of Zhejiang University, one of China’s largest and oldest universities, in 2006.

As head of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Technological Science Division, Yang has had extensive international scientific experience. He has served as regional editor for several journals in the field of composite materials and has been on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Fracture, Fatigue & Fracture of Engineering Materials & Structures, and the Archive of Applied Mechanics, among several others. Early in 2009, Yang became widely known for a stern and dedicated fight against scientific misconduct, dealing strictly with researchers found to have engaged in misconduct and proactively developing training programs to support scientific integrity. Organizations and journals,Nature among them, praised his zero tolerance policies.

Yang has supported and worked for collaborations with universities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore and elsewhere. His own postgraduate students — more than 40 of them — have extended his international reach. More than 10 of them hold engineering faculty positions in the United States and Europe. He has been honored extensively for his efforts, including the 2009 Brown University Engineering Alumni Medal.


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