2018 Honorary Degree Recipients
We are pleased to announce the 2018 Honorary Degree recipients!
Eric Gonzalez, JD, District Attorney for Kings County, is this year’s speaker and honorary degree recipient for Pace’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law. This is the school’s 40th commencement ceremony. Gonzalez made history as the first Latino elected to serve as District Attorney in New York State. His efforts have helped propel the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to the forefront of criminal justice reform efforts taking place across the nation. His many professional accomplishments, dedication to the legal profession and administration of justice, and inspiring example to others both within and outside the legal profession.
He is a graduate of the New York City public schools, Cornell University, and the University of Michigan Law School. Gonzalez has made his career as a prosecutor in the Brooklyn DA’s office, Assistant District Attorney to Executive District Attorney, and Counsel. Gonzalez has pursued justice for victims of domestic violence, gang violence, assault, and homicide. The bureaus he led became some of the most successful and productive trial zones in Brooklyn. He brought together precinct commanders, police officers, and citizens, which strengthened relationships between law enforcement and communities. He guided the launch of the Conviction Review Unit, which has become the model for similar efforts around the country.
Judge Robert G.M. Keating is an honorary degree recipient for Pace’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law commencement ceremony. Keating has served in a long and accomplished career as a member of the bar and made lasting contributions to Pace University and its Law School. Keating was New York City’s Coordinator of Criminal Justice, a cabinet-level advisor to Mayor Edward Koch. He developed and supervised the Midtown Community Court, the National Association for Court Management. He instituted the Court Health Referral Project, in which defendants received courthouse-based counseling on AIDS, drug abuse, and tuberculosis, recognizing the positive role social services can play in the justice system. Judge Keating had a notable career in the private sector as a partner in a law firm, senior executive vice president of a physician practice management company, and as chairman and CEO of a firm that provided consulting and alternative dispute resolution services. Judge Keating was chosen to lead the New York State Judicial Institute—the first judicial training and research facility in the nation built by and for a state court system, housed on Pace Law’s campus in White Plains. As Dean of the Judicial Institute, he oversaw programs that trained 14,000 judges and 50,000 non-judicial personnel across New York State. As both the Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Pace University and an Adjunct Professor at the Law School, Judge Keating has made an important and lasting impact on thousands of Pace students.
He has served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the South Street Seaport Museum, as board member and treasurer of the Fund for the City of New York, and as a member of the board of Citizens Union. Judge Keating earned his JD from Duke University and then began his career as a trial attorney for the Legal Aid Society. He joined the Kings County District Attorney's Office, where he rose through the ranks to become Chief Assistant District Attorney. His initiatives in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office led to one of the nation’s first programs to offer an alternative to prison for drug offenders.
David Swope is an honorary degree recipient (posthumously) for Pace’s Westchester undergraduate commencement ceremony. David Avery Swope, JD, was the third generation of his family to take a leading role in Westchester County. Swope was born in Ossining and went to school in Scarborough before graduating from Harvard and Columbia Law School. He joined the Peace Corps and served in India. He formed a legal aid society in Bombay, now Mumbai. He became a corporate lawyer in Manhattan, first at White & Case and then Davis Polk. He then came home to Westchester to manage the family businesses, which included a tennis club and Tappan Hill Mansion. He built the tennis club into one of the first full-service gyms in the area. As a successful businessman, he also became a major Westchester philanthropist. Swope was deeply involved in Teatown, founded with his family’s donation, and supported the Westchester Land Trust. He was chairman of the Jacob Burns Film Center and served on the boards of the Ossining Children’s Center and the Phelps Memorial Hospital. For many years, he was an active board member at Westchester Community College. He funded David Swope Scholarship to help graduates of Westchester Community College transfer to Pace. His passion for the environment led to his support of the Pace University Environmental Center.
New York Undergraduate
Marilyn Simons, Ph.D., is this year’s honorary degree recipient for Pace’s New York City undergraduate commencement ceremony. Simons is one of the greatest supporters of basic scientific research in the United States. She is the president of the Simons Foundation, co-founded with James Simons, her husband, which is one of the nation’s leading funders of basic scientific research, focused primarily on mathematical and physical sciences, life sciences, and autism research. Founded in 1994, today the Simons Foundation awards about $230 million dollars in grants to scientists each year, and spends another $50 million on conducting research in-house. Simons earned a bachelor’s and doctoral degree in economics from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. She and her husband created the Simons Foundation, they focused first on autism research. The foundation started a major data collection project, based on work with 12 collaborating universities. The data set they created then became a major resource to a broad community of autism researchers, jumpstarting the field. Their successes led them to expand into many other areas, including brain research, a telescope project, and much more. The Simons Foundation is able to fund basic research whether it crosses disciplines, crosses institutions, crosses geographies, or seems impractical that public sources might not.
Simons is also active in supporting other nonprofit work across New York City and Long Island. She has been involved in supporting K–12 education for underserved communities. She is vice president of the board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the noted 125-year-old biomedical research laboratory on Long Island. She is a board member at the Learning Spring School, a school in New York City for children on the autism spectrum, and she is a board member at the East Harlem Scholars Academy, a charter school program. Simons is listed among America’s most generous philanthropists.