Dean Brid Grant, Dr. Leslie Uggams, and Professor Vincent Cardinal, artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre at May 9's commencement ceremony.
Dean Brid Grant, Dr. Leslie Uggams, and Professor Vincent Cardinal, artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre at UConn's commencement ceremony.
(courtesy of the University of Connecticut)

Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer, and recording artist Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!) received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut, Storrs on May 9 during the school's 2015 commencement ceremonies. Uggams also delivered the commencement address to the graduating class, sharing insights gleaned from throughout her career.

"Leslie Uggams is one of the leading actresses and most inspired singers of our time...In the midst of the turbulent civil rights movement she used her art form as an eloquent declaration of equality and as protest. She has broken her share of racial barriers as the first African American to be featured regularly on a weekly, primetime television series in all 50 states, as the first African-American woman to host a primetime television variety show, and only the second African-American woman to win a Tony Award…Ms. Uggams (also) made history with UConn's Connecticut Repertory Theatre as the first African-American woman to play Momma Rose in the critically lauded musical Gypsy," said Sally M. Reis, vice provost for academic affairs.

Assistant Dean Colleen Bridgeman; Professor Vincent Cardinal, artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Student Speaker Juanita Jessica-Tonja Austin; Dean Brid Grant; Dr. Leslie Uggams; Associate Dean Dr. Thomas Meacham; Alumni Speaker Michael Astrachan, Class of 1987 BFA; and Professor of Dramatic Arts Dr. David Alan Stern.
Assistant Dean Colleen Bridgeman; professor Vincent Cardinal, artistic director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre; student speaker Juanita Jessica-Tonja Austin; Dean Brid Grant; Dr. Leslie Uggams; Associate Dean Dr. Thomas Meacham; Alumni Speaker Michael Astrachan, Class of 1987 BFA; and Professor of Dramatic Arts Dr. David Alan Stern.
(courtesy of the University of Connecticut)