Listed below are recipients from 2020 to 2029.

Claudius “C.B.” Claiborne, Doctor of Humane Letters
Duke alumnus and the university’s first Black student-athlete who played on the men’s basketball team between 1965 and 1969; professor of business and marketing at Texas Southern University; has received numerous awards for his scholarship on teaching and leadership
Rhiannon Giddens, Doctor of Arts
Greensboro native, MacArthur Fellow, and Grammy-award-winning artist dedicated to creating a more accurate understanding of the origins of American music; co-writer of the opera “Omar,” which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in music
Desmond Meade, Doctor of Laws
Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which successfully campaigned to pass a Florida constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to returning citizens with a felony conviction; recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World
Jerry Seinfeld, Doctor of Arts
Comedian and actor best known for playing a fictionalized version of himself in Seinfeld, one of the most influential television comedy series ever made; career has included numerous stand-up specials, movies, and an interview series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; Emmy- and Golden-Globe-award winner
Branford Marsalis, Doctor of Arts
Award-winning saxophonist, band leader, and featured classical soloist, and a composer for film, television, and Broadway; has won three Grammys and was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts 
Deborah Rutter, Doctor of Arts
President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; serves as the co-chair of the Commission on the Arts
Susan Solomon, Doctor of Science
Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); her research resulted in some of the first measurements that pointed towards chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the cause of the ozone hole
Darren Walker, Doctor of Humane Letters
President of the Ford Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. with an endowment of $16 billion; named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people
Sylvia Acevedo, Doctor of Science
Former CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA who began her career as a rocket scientist at NASA and worked on Solar Probe and Voyager 2; appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics in Early Childhood
Akinwumi A. Adesina, Doctor of Humane Letters
Globally renowned development economist and agricultural development expert who is the 8th elected president of the African Development Bank Group; also serves as one of the commissioners for the Global Climate Commission
Patrick O. Brown, Doctor of Science
Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Impossible Foods; previously a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he and his colleagues developed DNA microarrays; recipient of the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor
Thomas G. Catena, Doctor of Science
Alumnus of the Duke University School of Medicine who is the medical director and sole surgeon at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan; named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015


Barbara Arnwine, Doctor of Laws
Alumna of Duke Law School; civil and human rights activist; president and founder of the nonprofit Transformative Justice Coalition
Jacquelyn Campbell, Doctor of Science
Alumna of the Duke University School of Nursing; the Anna D. Wolf Chair and a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing; a national expert of research regarding domestic and intimate partner violence
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Doctor of Humane Letters
Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University; national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History; recipient of the 2014 National Humanities Medal
John Legend, Doctor of Humane Letters
Singer, songwriter, philanthropist, and advocate for criminal justice reform; has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards, becoming the first African American man to reach "EGOT" status


Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., Doctor of Humane Letters
Art historian who served as president of Spelman College from 2015 to 2022; previously executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem; dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for more than 20 years
Katalin Karikó, Ph.D., Doctor of Science
Drew Weissman, M.D., Doctor of Science
Katalin Karikó is senior vice president at BioNTech and an adjunct professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Drew Weissman is the Roberts Family Professor of Vaccine Research at the Perelman School of Medicine. Their collaborative work on mRNA-based vaccines led to the first two approved COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. 
Ken Jeong, Doctor of Humane Letters
Duke alumnus who trained as a physician before launching his career in comedy and acting, creating memorable characters in close to 50 films and TV shows; advocate for support of cancer research and treatment