Millsaps to honor Edgar, Kaplan, Mabus

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A ground-breaking journalist, a nationally-known litigator, and a former Mississippi Governor and Secretary of the Navy have been named honorary degree recipients for the 2017 commencement exercises on May 6 at Millsaps College.

Joanne Edgar, Roberta Kaplan, and Ray Mabus will receive the degrees during the 9:30 a.m. commencement on the Millsaps campus, the college said in a press release.

“We are proud to welcome these outstanding individuals back to the Millsaps campus, and to recognize their contributions to our state and our nation,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps College. “Each of them has made a lasting impact across the country and beyond.”

Joanne Edgar, a 1965 Millsaps graduate, is a founding editor of Ms. magazine, where she worked from 1971-1989. Today she is a strategic communications consultant and writer, working with foundations and nonprofit organizations to support social change, the release said.

Roberta Kaplan is a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York, and an adjunct professor of law at Columbia University Law School. She has been described as a “litigation superstar” and is perhaps best known for her successful argument before the United State Supreme Court in the landmark case of United States v. Windsor that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violated the U.S. Constitution, the release said.

Kaplan also led the fight in Mississippi to allow adoption of children by same-sex couples, and played the lead role in the successful challenge last year of HB 1523, Mississippi’s “religious freedom” bill that was struck down by District Judge Carlton Reeves.

The press release points out that as Secretary of the Navy from 2009-2017, Ray Mabus was the longest-serving secretary since World War I. Under his leadership, the Navy reversed a decline in the size of its fleet and focused on the use of biofuels in naval vessels. Mabus, who visited over 150 countries and territories and all 50 states during his service as secretary, remains a vocal advocate for diversity among service members in the military.

Mabus served as state auditor in Mississippi, and in 1988 became the youngest governor in the United States when he was elected at the age of 39, the release notes. After his service as governor, Mabus served in the Clinton administration as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.