Bloomfield College announces honorary degree recipients for its 148th commencement

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Three prominent national and distinguished citizens — Wanda Durant, Marion Lee Johnson and Richard A. Levao — will receive honorary degrees from Bloomfield College as part of the private, four-year college’s 148th commencement, President Marcheta P. Evans recently announced.

Durant, affectionately known as “Mama Durant,” is the president and CEO of Hope, Dream, Believe and Achieve, a motivational platform through which Durant has shared her personal blueprint for parenting, which she used to raise her two sons to become successful adults. Her philanthropic outreach was realized during her time supporting her son’s foundation, The Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, and other nonprofit organizations, including Single Parents Support Network, Baller Moms, Positive Tomorrows, the Boys & Girls Club of America and Mothers of Professional Basketball Players. In the story about her life, produced by musical artist, television producer and actress Queen Latifah, “The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story” depicts how Durant inspires underserved children, single mothers and communities to move beyond their immediate circumstances and to aim higher in life.

Johnson, a black woman, was a “hidden figure” who contributed to America’s successful first manned lunar landing mission on July 20, 1969. Having attended college in Alabama where she majored in mathematics, Johnson began her career as an associate engineer for the Boeing Company in Alabama in 1967 and worked at NASA’S Marshall Space Flight Center. Boeing recognized Johnson with significant commendations in March 1969 for an incredible perfect score of 20 successful missions in 20 attempts. Her name is enshrined in the Apollo/Saturn V Roll of Honor, a copy of which is in both the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution. Johnson is the recipient of many accolades for her contributions to science and to the Apollo 11 mission. 

Levao, a practicing attorney, served as president of Bloomfield College for 16 years and retired with emeritus status in 2019. Before coming to Bloomfield, he practiced law for 29 years and was a partner at the national law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. For more than 30 years, Levao was a member of the Rutgers University board of trustees and board of governors, with a number of years serving as chairperson at each organization. He has also served as chairperson of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, and as a member of the Scholarship Selection Committee of the New Jersey Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Levao has served as an adjunct member of the faculties of the Cornell Law School, Rutgers University and Bloomfield College. 

Bloomfield College is holding six in-person commencement ceremonies in celebration of the Class of 2021 on May 20 and 21, and an in-person commencement on May 22 for the Class of 2020, which was unable to celebrate in person last year.

Attendance at the conferring of degrees is by ticket only at the college’s outdoor quad on campus. For more information, visit https://bloomfield.edu/academics/commencement-celebrations.

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