SUU Awards Honorary Degrees to Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Eric O. Leavitt

Published: April 22, 2022 | Author: David Bishop | Read Time: 4 minutes

Southern Utah University announced today it will award honorary doctorate degrees to two distinguished individuals - Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th United States Secretary of State, and Eric O. Leavitt, business executive and former SUU Board of Trustees chair.

Both will be presented honorary doctorates during SUU’s annual commencement ceremony on Friday, April 29. Dr. Rice is also SUU’s commencement speaker.

About Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Dr. Condoleezza RiceCondoleezza Rice is the Tad and Dianne Taube Director of the Hoover Institution and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy. In addition, she is a founding partner of Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC, an international strategic consulting firm.

From 2005 to 2009, Rice served as the 66th U.S. Secretary of State, the second woman and first black woman to hold the post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s assistant to the president for national security affairs (National Security Advisor) from 2001 to 2005, the first woman to hold the position.

Rice served as Stanford University’s provost from 1993 to 1999, during which time she was the institution's chief budget and academic officer. As provost, she was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget and an academic program involving 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students.

From 1989 to 1991, Rice served on President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council staff. In 1986, while an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice also served as special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a professor of political science, Rice has been on the Stanford faculty since 1981 and has won two of the university’s highest teaching honors – the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

She has authored and co-authored numerous books, most recently “To Build a Better World: Choices to End the Cold War and Create a Global Commonwealth” (2019), co-authored with Philip Zelikow. Among her other volumes are three bestsellers, “Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom” (2017); “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington” (2011); and “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family” (2010).

In 1991, Rice co-founded the Center for a New Generation (CNG), an innovative, after-school academic enrichment program for students in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, California. In 1996, CNG merged with the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, an affiliate club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). CNG has since expanded to local BGCA chapters in Birmingham, Atlanta, and Dallas. Rice remains an active proponent of an extended learning day through after-school programs.

Since 2009, Rice has served as a founding partner at RiceHadleyGates LLC, an international strategic consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.

About Eric O. Leavitt

Eric O. LeavittEric O. Leavitt has used a solid foundation in finance and a respected base of wisdom to serve on and lead a number of highly contributive boards, committees, and organizations in our state over the past three-and-a-half decades. He made highly consequential contributions to the life and advancement of this institution as a member and also chair of the board of trustees for two terms from 2011 to 2019. That service came with uncommon knowledge, skills and compassion at a critical time in the life of the institution.

In addition to his guidance of SUU, he has served on the board of directors of Southwest Technical College, Great Western Thrift and Georgia Mutual Insurance Company. He currently serves on the board of governors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and has served Zions First National Bank on its board of directors, executive committee and advisory board since 2006.

A Cedar City native, he began his higher education journey at Dixie College on a football scholarship, then took a turn at SUU before earning a bachelor of science degree in finance from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah in 1986. He then earned a master’s degree in finance and public policy in 1988 from the University of Rochester’s William E. Simon Graduate School of Business in Rochester, New York, where he earned the prestigious John M. Olin Fellowship.

Returning to Utah, he began his career in Salt Lake City with an energy development company where he developed cogeneration power projects in Vermont, Massachusetts, Utah and California.

In 1992 he joined his family’s business, the Leavitt Group, the largest family-controlled insurance brokerage in the nation. In 2006, he and his wife Melissa moved their family to Cedar City to better assist in the company’s rapid growth. His duties over the past 30 years have included service as executive chairman and chief executive officer for the past half-decade. Previous positions with the company have included executive vice president and president.

Today, he is in service as a member of SUU’s presidential search committee for a second time.

He is one of six sons of SUU Presidential Medallion Award winners Dixie and Anne Leavitt, and he and Melissa are parents to six and grandparents to seven.


Southern Utah University’s commencement ceremony begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 29. For more information about graduation day, visit

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