Newswise — NEW YORK, July 24 – Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels presented Sid Lerner with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at a special Johns Hopkins luncheon on Monday, July 22, in New York City.  Lerner, an ad executive turned public health advocate, founded the Meatless Monday movement, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Before conferring the honor, Daniels described Lerner’s legendary career in advertising, how he developed campaigns that changed the way the nation thinks about everything from common household items —“Don’t Squeeze the Charmin!”— to public health and the environment.  In 2003, Lerner launched the Meatless Monday campaign, convincing carnivores to forgo meat one day each week to improve their health while conserving the valuable environmental resources it takes to bring meat into the global food supply. Since its launch, the campaign has grown into a global movement with programs in more than 40 countries and participation from thousands of restaurants, schools, worksites, communities, and celebrities.

As part of the presentation, Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean Ellen MacKenzie and Dean Emeritus Al Sommer led the hooding ceremony, which conferred the honorary doctoral degree. In expressing his gratitude for the honor, Lerner acknowledged the contribution of his many Meatless Monday collaborators from the Center for a Livable Future, Lerner Centers for Public Health Promotion and The Monday Campaigns.

Asked for his advice to 2019 Johns Hopkins University graduates, Lerner said, “If you believe it and it’s true, stand up for it. Stand up for your ideas and stand up for your health.”

Lerner joined six other 2019 distinguished honorary degree recipients. They include Rosalie Silberman Abella, Canadian Supreme Court justice; Jeffrey H. Aronson, a Johns Hopkins University board of trustees; Jagdish N. Bhagwati, an acclaimed economist; Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic; Cecil D. Haney, retired U.S. Navy Admiral, and Helen H. Hobbs, a renowned geneticist.

"This year's honorees are leaders, thinkers, and advocates across disciplines whose bold ideas and bracing questions are matched by a desire to impact our society for the better," remarked Daniels.

Link to video of the Distinguished Honorary Degree recipients: