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University System of Maryland Chancellor to Address Bowie State University Graduates
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on December 11, 2019

Oldest Living African-American Olympic Medalist to Receive an Honorary Doctorate

University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Robert L. Caret will address more than 500 Bowie State University graduates at the Winter Commencement on Friday, December 13, 2019, at 10 a.m. in the Leonidas S. James Physical Education Complex. The oldest living African-American Olympic medalist, 97-year-old Herbert Douglas, will also be recognized for his service in sports, civil rights and corporate America with an honorary Doctor in Humane Letters degree. View the ceremony live at

Dr. Caret, the fourth chancellor for the state’s 12-member public higher education system, has served universities across the nation for more than 25 years. USM schools annually award more than 42,000 degrees, including 75 percent or more of all of Maryland’s bachelor’s degrees.

Dr. Caret has been USM chancellor since 2015, and in that time, enrollment in USM institutions has increased by more than 176,000 students. Additionally, USM raised a record high of $408 million in private funds in fiscal year 2018. Under his leadership, USM has become more diverse and inclusive than ever before, with nearly 50 percent of its undergraduates comprised of underrepresented or minority students. In fiscal year 2018, the system awarded more than 8,000 bachelor’s degrees to underrepresented and minority students. Among this population, the number of bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) increased by 27 percent since fiscal year 2016.

Before joining USM as chancellor, Dr. Caret served as president of the University of Massachusetts System, Towson University and San Jose University. The Daily Record named him among its 2017 Icon Honors winners and on its list of Influential Marylanders a year earlier.

The honorary degree recipient, Herbert Douglas, was 26 years old in 1948 when he competed at the Summer Olympic Games in London on a team of 300 American athletes – only eight were black. He won the bronze medal in the long jump. Douglas earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and entering the corporate world, he became one of the first African-American vice presidents of a national company.

Douglas established the Jesse Owens Foundation, which annually presents the Jesse Owens International Athlete Trophy to world-class athletes. The foundation has also presented the Jesse Owens Global Peace Award and the Jesse Owens International Trophy to such dignitaries as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, South African human rights icon Nelson Mandela, former president George H.W. Bush and media mogul Ted Turner. Douglas has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and selected by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 Most Successful Black Men.


About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit
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