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UIC to award honorary degree to Sam Pitroda

Chicago: The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) will present honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to Native American poet and essayist N. Scott Momaday and to Chicago business executive and inventor Satyan “Sam” Pitroda­ during 2010 commencement ceremonies in May.
Chicago inventor and communications entrepreneur Sam Pitroda is widely known in his native India for bringing telephone service in the 1980s to the many areas of that country that lacked telecommunications. He chaired the first Indian Telecom Commission and served in a variety of Indian government advisory positions to implement health-related projects in sanitation, clean water, shelter, food and immunizations.
The holder of numerous patents, Pitroda is a leader in the digital switching and mobile phone industries, creating in 1975 the “Electronic Diary,” one of the first hand-held computing devices.
His expertise was tapped by the United Nations to help bridge the digital divide with the developing world and served as one of the first members of the World Telecommunication Advisory Council, part of the International Telecommuni-cation Union.
Pitroda’s work was recognized in 2006 by The Economist magazine when they named him the recipient of their Innovation Award for his work in opening up telecommunications in India. Pitroda will receive his honorary degree at the commencement of the UIC College of Medicine, the nation’s largest medical school, on May 7 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pavilion.
For four decades, Scott Momaday, member of the Kiowa tribe, has been a renowned author, educator and visual artist and a leading advocate for the celebration and preservation of Native American art, cultures and oral traditions.
Momaday’s critically acclaimed books of fiction and poetry include his first novel, “House Made of Dawn,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. The book, based on the lives of his ancestors, is credited for leading Native American literature into the mainstream.
Known for charismatic presentations, he has entertained and enlightened global audiences with poetry and prose readings.
Momaday was awarded a 2007 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government, in recognition of his career achievements and contributions to the arts.
Momaday, who is the Centennial Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, is founder and chair of the Buffalo Trust, a non-profit foundation for the preservation and restoration of Native American culture, and a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian. He has taught English literature and Native American studies at several institutions of higher education.
Momaday will receive his honorary degree at the commencement of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the largest of UIC’s 14 colleges, May 9 at 10 a.m. at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave.