Ga. Tech Announces Two Honorary Degree Recipients

Bréchignac and Silas to be recognized

The Georgia Institute of Technology announced today that Dr. Catherine Bréchignac and Mr. Cecil J. "Pete" Silas will receive honorary doctoral degrees at the university's fall Commencement ceremony in December.

"Both Dr. Bréchignac, a renowned scientist and scholar in the area of nanophysics, and Mr. Silas, a dedicated alumnus and former CEO of Phillips Petroleum, meet the highest standards that can be set for receipt of an honorary degree," said Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough. "We are pleased to recognize both of them for their service to Georgia Tech."

Bréchignac is the current president of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the largest and most influential scientific organization in Europe. Bréchignac is known within the international scientific community as a specialist in atomic physics working at the interface of nuclear and molecular physics. Since the early 1990s, she has been a research collaborator with Georgia Tech faculty and recently has been instrumental in the establishment of a formal partnership between CNRS and Georgia Tech to engage in research of mutual interest.

In 2001 Bréchignac's extensive work with Tech faculty led to her appointment as adjunct professor of physics and distinguished visiting scholar chair at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has been collaborating with the CNRS since 1998 when a Georgia Tech Lorraine-CNRS Telecom lab opened on the Georgia Tech Lorraine campus in Metz, France. Recently this relationship has been strengthened with the formation of an international partnership known as 'Unite Mixte Internationale (UMI)' between Georgia Tech and CNRS. This partnership is the first of its kind in France, where CNRS has partnered with a non-French entity (Georgia Tech) to engage in research of mutual interest.

Silas received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech and had a distinguished business career at Phillips Petroleum, culminating with a decade of service as its chairman and chief executive officer. Silas has been a civic leader at the local, state and national levels, including service as chairman of Junior Achievement, the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute. He has also been very supportive of the Institute for many years, including service on the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees and the Georgia Tech Advisory Board. This honorary degree recognizes his outstanding career in the energy field, his lifelong commitment to community service and his dedication and service to his alma mater.

Over the years Silas has provided significant leadership to his alma mater. He chaired the National Campaign Steering Committee for the five-year Campaign for Georgia Tech, which began with a $300 million goal and raised more than $700 million. He served as a trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation for 18 years, and continues his relationship with the Foundation board as a trustee emeritus. He also served on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board for six years, including a one-year term as its chairman. He is a member of The Hill Society, which recognizes the Institute's principal philanthropists. In recognition of his efforts, Georgia Tech has presented him with the Joseph Mayo Pettit Alumni Distinguished Service Award, the Georgia Tech Alumni Exceptional Achievement Award, and the Scholar-Athlete Total Person Award.

As a student at Georgia Tech, Silas was a recognized leader on the basketball court, and he subsequently played on the U.S. basketball team that won the 1955 Pan American games in Mexico City. He has been inducted into both the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Past recipients of honorary degrees from Georgia Tech include: Jimmy Carter, Ivan Allen Jr., Jacques Nasser, Jack Kilby, Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Dole, Glen Robinson, John Young, John Slaughter, Alan Kay and Wallace H. Coulter.