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JJ Watt to receive honorary degree from Baylor College of Medicine

Watt, Dr. David Persse getting degrees for their work after Harvey

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HOUSTON – Baylor College of Medicine will give honorary degrees to two high-profile Houstonians for serving the community after Hurricane Harvey. Those degrees will go to Houston Texans star JJ Watt and Houston Emergency Medical Services director Dr. David Persse.

Watt and Persse will each receive a Doctor of Humanities in Medicine degree. In a news release on Thursday, Baylor College of Medicine officials said this degree is awarded to individuals who have provided exceptional support or service directly or indirectly to Baylor or to academic medicine as a whole and to the community. 

"In the year following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the community's incredible response, it was most fitting to honor two community leaders who contributed in major ways, Dr. Persse and J.J. Watt. Our graduates and their families can take important lessons from all four of these honorary degree recipients," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor.

Watt raised more than $37 million to support recovery efforts after Harvey. Persse worked closely with Baylor physicians to meet the medical needs of the community after the storm.

The pair will receive their honorary degrees during the commencement ceremonies on May 29 at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts.

Two more honorary degrees will be handed out that day. They will go to the commencement speaker, Nobel laureate Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, and Dr. Alice McPherson, professor of ophthalmology at Baylor and one of the foremost retina specialists in the world. They will each receive a Doctor of Letters in Medicine degree.