Three Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at USU's 132nd Commencement

Utah State University welcomes three distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees during its 132nd graduation ceremony.

Those receiving honorary degrees are Mehdi Heravi, a USU graduate, scholar, author and philanthropist; Eric E. Hipple, former NFL quarterback, USU alum and speaker on the importance of being mentally fit; and Ronald W. Jibson, a USU graduate and retired chairman, president and CEO of Questar Corporation (now Dominion Energy).

The prominent individuals will receive honorary doctorates during the commencement ceremony May 2 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan. Hipple is the commencement speaker. 
USU President Noelle Cockett said honorary degrees are one of the most important ways the university has to recognize people for the commitment and sacrifices they have made to make positive changes in the world.
“All of these individuals have made their marks in a number of ways and in a number of fields, but all of them deserve honor for their passion and determination to serve others,” she said.

MEHDI HERAVI  (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

From a young age, Iranian born Heravi was not one to back away from a challenge or a dream. The scholar, author, philanthropist and Utah State University graduate believes that humanity is a priority and one should always strive to make the world a better place. 

Heravi is a visionary, who despite his fears, left his home in Tehran as a teenager to pursue his dream of receiving an education in America. He came to Logan and finished his senior year of high school and then enrolled at USU where he studied political science, eventually graduating with both a bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1964). While at USU, Heravi became the first international student in the university’s history to become a campus-wide independent senator. 

In 1973, Heravi returned to Iran to serve as vice president at the National University of Iran. Years later, following the Iranian Revolution, Heravi devoted himself to philanthropy and humanitarian work. He has helped support an orphanage in northern Iran along the Caspian Sea and helps support several organizations related to cerebral palsy, a disease that afflicts his son. 

When it comes to remembering his alma mater, Heravi is no less generous. He has established several scholarships at USU, including an agricultural scholarship in his father’s name and another for education students intending to help those with special needs. 

ERIC E. HIPPLE (Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctorate Recipient) 

Hipple is a former NFL quarterback who has dedicated his life to educating people around the world about the dangers of depression and the potential for empowerment and mental wellness through knowledge on the topic.  

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Born in Texas and raised in Southern California, Hipple came to Utah State University to earn a degree in business administration and play for the USU football team. He starred at quarterback for the Aggies from 1976-79, and he is still among the most prolific passers of all-time. 

Drafted by Detroit in the 1980 NFL Draft, Hipple had a successful 10-year run with the Lions that included two playoff bids, a divisional championship and the Detroit Lions Most Valuable Player Award for the ’81 season. 

Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide in 2000, Hipple has devoted his life to building awareness and breaking down the stigma surrounding depressive illnesses. His straightforward approach to discussing mental health has garnered him much recognition. His book Real Men Do Cry, which chronicles his life of football, tragedy and return to triumph, received a Publisher Presidential Award.

Hipple currently serves in professional relations for Transformations, a mental health/addiction treatment facility in Delray Beach, Florida, and also works with Living Life on the Offense, a Michigan school-based education program sponsored by the Mental Illness Research Association.

RONALD W. JIBSON (Honorary Doctorate Recipient)

Jibson is a visionary who is able to look to the needs of the current generation without compromising the outlook of future generations. During his 36-year career at Questar Corporation, Jibson worked his way up from an entry-level engineer to become the corporation’s president and CEO before retiring in 2016. His mutual respect for colleagues allowed him to serve with excellence and distinction. 

An instrumental player in building Questar Corporation into one of the nation’s premier energy firms and a driving force for economic development in Utah, Jibson held various positions during his years of employ. His ability to treat others with respect and kindness allowed him to serve in a unique and successful capacity, no matter the position. 

Jibson’s self-discipline, education and strong ethical commitment provided him the foundation to succeed not only in business, but also in life. He continuously steps up to become a deeply engaged community leader in the Intermountain West with service on many boards over the years including USU’s Board of Trustees, where he served as chair.

After graduating from Utah State University with a degree in civil engineering, Jibson went on to earn a master’s of business administration from Westminster College. He gives generously of his time and gives back through endowed scholarships at USU, where he also has served on the College of Engineering Advisory Board. 

For more information on USU’s 132nd Commencement, visit the commencement website at

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