The University will confer honorary degrees on 12 individuals—including a Nobel laureate, two people who have served as presidents of Ivy League universities, and a managing director of the World Bank—at today’s Commencement exercises. Nine men and three women will be honored.
Sydney Brenner, Peter R. Brown, Katherine Dunham, Albert O. Hirschman, Yuan T. Lee, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Howard Raiffa, Mamphela A. Ramphele, Julius B. Richmond, Neil L. Rudenstine, Ruth J. Simmons, Bernard A.O. Williams will receive the degrees.
The honorands ate last night at Annenberg Hall, where they enjoyed a rendition of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major performed by graduate student Nokuthula Ngwenyama. They also dined on filet mignon, shallot confit with chimichurri sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and haricots verts, with chocolate concorde and raspberry sauce for dessert.
Brenner is known for his ground-breaking contributions to genetics, including identifying messenger RNA and proving that it consisted of triplet nucleotide codes.
He also was the first to use the roundworm C. elegans to analyze complex biological processes. His more recent research has focused on cloning techniques and vertebrate genomics.
Brenner served as director of the Molecular Sciences Institute—a private research center in Berkeley, Calif. which he founded—until his retirement last year. He continues to serve as a research professor at the Salk Institute for biological studies.
Born in South Africa, Brenner earned his Ph.D. from Oxford in 1952.
Has has received the Lasker Award for Medical Research, the Royal Society of London’s Royal Medal and the Kyoto Prize for his work.
He will be honored with a Doctor of Science degree today.
Peter R. Brown
Born in Dublin, noted historian Brown’s academic career has taken him from the lecture halls of England to California and now to Princeton, New Jersey.
He first studied at Oxford, staying to become a fellow, then a medieval history lecturer and finally a university reader in late Roman and early Byzantine studies. He also worked at the University of London before moving to the United States and becoming the Professor of History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley.
Brown is now the Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University.
His 30 years of scholarship, which includes Augustine of Hippo andWorld of Late Antiquity and totals more than 50 books and articles, has focused on the development of Christianity in the years following the collapse of pagan Rome.
Aside from the Doctor of Laws degree Brown will be receiving today, he has also received honorary degrees from other institutions, including Columbia University and Dublin’s Trinity College.
Regarded as an eminent scholar and performer of modern dance, Dunham is a pioneer in the use of folk and ethnic choreography.
Her unprecedented blend of cultural anthropology—the field in which she received a University of Chicago doctorate—with early ’30s dance broke new ground in Caribbean and African-American dance.
In 1946, after studying the cultures of the West Indies, she founded the Dunham School of Arts and Research, which became the premier training facility for African-American dancers. There she developed her method of dancing, called the “Dunham technique,” which continues to be studied by modern dancers worldwide.
After her academic appointment at Southern Illinois University in 1967, Dunham worked for racial equality by helping to rehabilitate former gang members through the performing arts.
Her work resulted in the formation of the Performing Arts Training Center for the community’s youth. She also founded the Katherine Dunham Museum and Children’s School which are still main attractions in East St. Louis, Illinois.
She will receive an honorary Doctorate of Arts.
Albert O. Hirschman
Hirschman is a highly respected social scientist and academic who has been decorated not just by other universities, but also by the governments of Colombia and Brazil.
A professor at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, he has gained fame through his study of such diverse disciplines as economic and political development in lower-income countries and the history of social thought.
Hirschman received his Ph.D. from the University of Trieste, and went on to assist refugees fleeing southern France in 1940. He then taught at both Yale and Columbia University and came to Harvard in 1964.
He left for the Institute of Advanced Study in 1974, where he remains as a professor of Social Science, Emeritus.
He has authored a number of groundbreaking books and articles, including, The Rhetoric of Reaction. Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy and Political Economics and Possibilism.
He will be honored today with a Doctor of Laws degree.
Yuan T. Lee
Lee is a Nobel prize-winning physical chemist from Taiwan. He has done extensive observation of complex molecules and the dynamics of their reactions. His work often focused on photochemical reactions and processes.
Lee attended National Taiwan University and after graduation, went on to earn a master’s degree in Taiwan. He later received a Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.
He worked at Harvard as a research fellow in the laboratory of Baird Professor of Science Dudley R. Herschbach, where he pioneered the use of molecular beams to study reaction dynamics.
He left Harvard in 1968 for the University of Chicago, and later returned to Berkeley in 1974, the same year he became a U.S. citizen.
For his study of reaction dynamics, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986 with Herschbach. He has also been awarded the Royal Chemical Society’s Faraday Medal and the National Medal of Science.
He will receive a Doctor of Science today.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Moynihan is a former four-term U.S. senator from New York and professor of government at Harvard.
He has also filled a variety of other public service posts, including ambassador to India, U.S. delegate to the U.N. and president of the U.N. Security Council.
The author of 18 books, Moynihan first gained national attention in 1965 as an assistant to the Secretary of Labor, when his office released a report called “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.”
The report, which analyzed the link between black urban poverty and the breakdown of black family structure, attracted the criticism of civil rights leaders.
Moynihan is the first person ever to serve in the sub-cabinets of four presidential administrations, and the second New York senator to win reelection three times.
He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom two years ago. Moynihan was also a loud advocate of the expansion of Social Security and opponent to NAFTA.
Moynihan, who will deliver this year’s Commencement address, will receive a Doctor of Laws today.
Raiffa is the Ramsey Professor of Managerial Economics Emeritus at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government, as well as a member of both the statistics and the economics departments.
Born in New York, Raiffa received a bachelors in actuarial math, a masters in statistics and a Ph.D. in mathematics, all from the University of Michigan.
From Michigan, Raiffa moved on to Columbia University, where he served as an assistant professor in the mathematics department until 1957.
He then came to Harvard and began his work as an associate professor in the Graduate School of Business Administration and the Department of Statistics. He earned full professorship in 1959.
In 1964, Raiffa left Harvard to serve as the Ford Visiting Research Professor at Stanford University. In 1972, he went to Austria where he served three years as the Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
Raiffa is a pioneer in the field of decision analysis, and is known for his contributions operations research, game theory, statistical decision theory and conflict resolution.
He will receive a Doctor of Laws.
Mamphela A. Ramphele
A South African physician and social anthropologist, Ramphele currently serves as managing director of the World Bank. In this capacity, she oversees the bank’s activities in health, education, social protection and information technology.
Ramphele, the first female to lead a major South African University and the first black vice-chancellor at the University of Cape Town, holds degrees in her many areas of expertise, a medical doctorate from University of Natal in 1972, a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, a B.Com. in Administration from the University of South Africa and diplomas in Tropical Health and Hygiene and Public Health from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. She is also a former fellow at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute
As a student leader in a major civil rights organization, Ramphele was banished by the South African government to a remote city from 1977 to 1984, where she continued her work related to the rural poor.
Ramphele co-edited Uprooting Poverty: The South African Challenge, an in-depth study of the socioeconomic problems facing South Africa that was released in 1979. More recently, in 1995, Ramphele published her autobiography.
She will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.
Julius B. Richmond
Assistant secretary of health and surgeon general of the U.S. from 1977 to 1981, Richmond is known for his work in pediatrics, science, education and public health.
His reports as surgeon general set the nation’s quantitative health goals and have publicized the risks of tobacco.
Richmond earned his master’s in physiology and his M.D. from the University of Illinois.
He began his career as a professor of pediatrics, but was motivated by the Brown v. Board of Education ruling to focus on interdisciplinary research psychiatry and pediatrics.
In 1965, he became the first national director of Project Head Start, a major federal program to ensure impoverished children a preschool education.
Richmond,who is now a professor emeritus in the department of social medicine at Harvard Medical School, came to the University in 1970, where he served as a professor of health policy and as MacArthur Professor of Management and Director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education.
Harvard will bestow upon him a Doctor of Science degree today.
Neil L. Rudenstine
Rudenstine, a scholar of Renaissance literature, served as the president of Harvard University from 1991 to 2001.
During his term, the soft-spoken and well-liked President raised a record $2.6 billion for the University. He also is credited with building Harvard’s Afro-American studies department and advocating diversity.
Rudenstine earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton, before heading to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and coming to Cambridge to earn his Ph. D. at Harvard.
Rudenstine later returned to Princeton, where he spent 20 years as an English professor and administrator. His administrative positions at Princeton included Dean of Students, Dean of the College and Provost.
He served as executive vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
from 1988 to 1991.
He has authored several books, including In Pursuit of the Ph.D. and Pointing Our Thoughts.
Rudenstine will receive a Doctor of Laws today.
Ruth J. Simmons
In July of last year, Simmons was named president of Brown University.
Before coming to Brown, Simmons served as president of Smith College in 1995, where she became one of the first African-American women to head a college or university in the United States.
While at Smith, Simmons launched the nation’s first engineering program at a women’s college.
The native Texan received a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature from Harvard in 1973.
During her young stint at the helm of Brown, Simmons has begun plans to implement need-blind admissions and to expand the faculty.
Her past awards include the Centennial Medal of Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the United Negro College Fund’s President’s Award.
She will receive a Doctor of Laws degree today.
Bernard A.O. Williams
Williams is a fellow at the University of Oxford and a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Aside from his primary academic specialization in ethics, his writings have also covered personal identity, the theory of knowledge and the history of philosophy.
He has served as provost of King’s College at the University of Cambridge, and was a professor of philosophy at Oxford.
Williams has also been a public presence in Britain. He chaired the Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship, which released a major report in 1979. He was also knighted in 1999 for his philosophical studies.
His works include Morality, Descartes: the Project of Pure Enquiry, Shame and Necessity and Making Sense of Humanity.
Harvard will honor Williams today with a Doctor of Laws degree.