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Howard University Announces 2023 Charter Day Award Recipients

2023 Howard University Charter Day Honorees

WASHINGTON - Howard University has selected the 2023 recipients for the Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement: Globally recognized artist Bisa Butler, surgeon Edward E. Cornwell, M.D., founder of Centennial One Lillian Lincoln Lambert, MBA, co-host of CBS Saturday Morning Michelle Miller, former program director of the James Webb Telescope Gregory L. Robinson, MBA, and former Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University, Lewis Thigpen, PhD. The awards will be presented during Charter Day 2023. Since 1943, Howard University has honored those among its ranks who embody its values as exemplars of excellence in truth and service. The Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement is one of our community’s highest honors and is reserved for those individuals whose contributions have made a profound difference in their communities. 

“The constant pursuit of social justice demands a diverse group of dedicated individuals who excel and become leaders in their respective fields,” said Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, president of Howard University. “Once again, this year’s honorees have proven that Howard alumni can leverage their passions and talents to pursue common goals for the betterment of our communities, our society, and our nation. I am immensely proud of this impressive group. Their personal achievements are a testament to the tremendous impact one can have on the world when they are empowered with a Howard University education.” 

Nominees for the awards are selected by a university committee that includes alumni representatives, and the Board of Trustees approves the final selections. All awardees hold either undergraduate or graduate degrees from Howard University and are nominated by alumni. 


2023 Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement 

Bisa Butler: in the field of fine arts 

Mailissa Yamba-Butler, also known as Bisa Butler graduated cum laude from Howard University with a bachelor's in fine art degree. She went on to earn a master's in art from Montclair State University. It was during her education at Howard that Butler was able to refine her natural talents under the tutelage of lecturers such as Lois Mailou Jones, Elizabeth Catlett, Jeff Donaldson and Al Smith Jr. Butler’s work focuses on the lives of African Americans from the 20th century until today. Most recently in 2022, Butler was awarded a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship and will be exhibiting in Switzerland during Art Basel this coming June with the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery. Butler’s work was the focus of a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, the second stop of a traveling exhibit which began at the Katonah Museum of Art. Many institutions and museums have acquired Butler’s work including: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Perez Museum of Miami, The Art Institute of Chicago, and many more. 

Edward E. Cornwell III: in the field of medicine 

As one of the top trauma surgeons in the United States, Edward E. Cornwell saves the lives of hundreds of patients each year who come into the emergency room with gunshot wounds and other devastating injuries. Cornwell received his surgical training at the Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center and his trauma/critical care fellowship at the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems in Baltimore, Maryland. He is former Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery at Howard University Hospital and former Interim Dean, Howard University College of Medicine. Dr. Cornwell's career interest is in the prevention, treatment, and outcome disparities of traumatic injuries, and their critical care sequelae. Cornwell has received numerous awards and citations for his efforts in education, outreach, and violence prevention. He has received major teaching awards in every faculty position he has held, and was selected as the Commencement speaker at the USC School of Medicine in 1996, and at the Howard University College of Medicine in 2002. 

Lillian Lincoln Lambert: in the field of business 

The first African American woman to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School, Lambert discovered that being an entrepreneur was empowering. "While discrimination and sexism are still realities, if you own your company, you can have an impact," she says. After graduating from HBS, Lambert held a variety of positions, working as a job-training consultant, stockbroker, and business professor at Bowie State, a historically black college in Maryland. In 2001, when she sold the company she had started in her Maryland garage 25 years earlier, Centennial One, she had 1,200 employees and annual revenues of $20 million.  

Michelle Miller: in the field of broadcast journalism 

Miller is a duPont-Columbia and Edward R. Murrow awarded broadcast journalist in New Orleans, New York City and a national correspondent for both B.E.T. and CBS television networks. Miller has held several roles corresponding for CBS News and serving as Cohost of CBS Saturday Morning. Additionally, Michelle Miller received the Woman of the Year Award from the National Sports Foundation. In 2019, Michelle received an honorary degree from St. Francis College at their May Commencement ceremony.  

Gregory L. Robinson: in the field of space science  

Robinson has over 30 years of engineering, program and project management, and senior executive leadership at NASA. He was the Program Director of the $10B James Webb Space Telescope (Webb), which launched Christmas Day 2021. Webb is currently providing never seen before images and data of our amazing universe.  He was formerly the Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs, NASA Science Mission Directorate, overseeing the development and operations of 114 flight projects. He led 3,200 employees as the Deputy Director of NASA’s John Glenn Research Center and currently serves as faculty at Columbia University, School of Professional Studies. In 2022, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, received the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award and was the federal Employee of the Year Medal Recipient for 2022. Robinson will also serve as this year’s charter day Convocation speaker. 

Lewis Thigpen: in the field of engineering 

Thigpen graduated from the mechanical engineering program at Howard University in 1964. He continued his education at the Illinois Institute of Technology, earning his master’s degree in engineering mechanics in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1970. Beginning in 1988, he served as a professor and Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University, leading the department for over sixteen years. As department chair, he instituted transformative change in the curriculum for both the undergraduate and graduate programs and implemented various award programs to recognize student and faculty accomplishments. Thigpen was also a major proponent of diversity and inclusion, hiring the first female mechanical engineering faculty member Dr. Sonya T. Smith in 1995. Thigpen was the first African American to serve as chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) National Department Heads Committee. He also served as chair for the ASME Committee on Engineering Accreditation, Mid-Atlantic Region III Department Heads Committee and as a board member for the ASME Center for Education Board of Directors. In 2019, he published his autobiography “Born and Raised in Sawdust.” 



About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced two Schwarzman Scholars, four Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American PhD. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.