In awarding honorary degree, UA thanks Briggs for community support


Robert Briggs encouraged UA graduates at Friday's commencement ceremony to be positive and supportive in all situations, and he underscored the point by recalling the words of Winston Churchill, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Robert Briggs

Robert Briggs

Briggs was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the ceremony, an acknowledgement of Briggs' vibrant work for the advancement of Northeast Ohio. This includes contributions to the University, and service to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the GAR Foundation.

'Enormous honor'

"It is an enormous honor and privilege to accept this degree and to be here for this auspicious event," Briggs told the graduates. "This honor is an honor which I accept on behalf of my family and friends, who are like family, many of whom are here today, including my colleagues at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs and the extraordinary number of individuals throughout the region and beyond with whom I have the privilege of working and who have been the ones who have achieved any success for which I am given credit."

A lifelong Ohioan, Briggs has served as a Knight Foundation trustee since 2002. He served as its vice chairman from 2005-09, chairman elect in 2009 and chairman in 2010. He continues to serve as chairman today.

He also served as president of the GAR Foundation until his retirement earlier this year.

He is also chairman emeritus the law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, where he started in 1971 and later served as president and chairman.

Foundation support

During Briggs' time with the Knight Foundation, it awarded a number of significant grants to the University and its partners, including:

  • $20 million to launch the Austin BioInnovation Institute in Akron;
  • $425,000 to strengthen the "Rise to the Occasion" program, which strives to increase the number of African American males enrolling in and graduating from UA; and
  • Nearly $13 million for the University Park Alliance, which is improving the 50-block area that surrounds the University.

Likewise, the GAR Foundation awarded sizable grants to UA in support of scholarships while Briggs was its president.

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Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or