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Jordan, Six Others Get Honorary Degrees

By Gay Seidman

President Bok this morning conferred honorary degrees on:

Albert Hamilton Gordon '23, financier--Doctor of Laws;

Paul C. Mangelsdorf, botanist, educator and Fisher Professor of Natural History Emeritus at Harvard--Doctor of Science;

Barbara Jordan, Democratic Congress-woman from the 18th Congressional district of Texas--Doctor of Laws;

Paul A. Freund, constitutional lawyer and Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard--Doctor of Laws;

Richard W. Southern, medieval scholar, author, and president of St. John's College, Oxford, England--Doctor of Laws;

Eudora Welty, novelist and short story writer--Doctor of Letters, and

Marian Anderson, contralto--Doctor of Music.

President Bok conferred honorary degrees on four men and three women at the Commencement exercises this morning, including two professors emeritus and Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Tex.).

The two retired faculty members who received honorary degrees are Paul W. Freund, Loeb University Professor Emeritus, and Paul C. Mangelsdorf, Fisher Professor of Natural History Emeritus.

In naming Jordan, the University broke with the tradition of keeping silent about potential honorary degree recipients by announcing in May that she will speak to the annual meeting of the Associated Harvard Alumni in Tercentenary Theater this afternoon.

The other degree recipients are Albert H. Gordon '23, chairman of Kidder Peabody and Co., Inc., a New York stock brokerage firm; Richard W. Southern, medieval scholar and president of St. John's College, Oxford, England; Eudora Welty, novelist and short story writer; and Marian Anderson, contralto.

Freund's teaching abilities are legendary at the Law School, but he is also well known as a great constitutional scholar who laid down many of the principles of constitutional study and who is wellversed in American constitutional history. Born in St. Louis, Mo., he came to teach at Harvard in 1939, after serving as law clerk to the late Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and working in the Solicitor General's office during the 1930s.

He became a full professor in 1940, and in 1958 became the first person to fill the Loeb University Professor's chair, in part because it was felt his ability to inspire his students should not be restricted to the Law School.

Freund's citation says he is "A brilliant scholar whose powerful intellect illumines the history of American constitutionalism; a kindly and responsive colleague for whom no task is too great, no problem too small."

Mangelsdorf, the other retired faculty member receiving an honorary degree today, is best known for his studies on hybrid corn seeds, which have opened up new areas of basic and applied research on this major food crop.

He played a major role in helping develop hybrid seed corn that does not require the costly process of removing corn tassels by hand, and in developing winter wheat with rustresistant stems.

A native of Atchinson, Kan., Manglesdorf has taught at Harvard since the 1930s. Between 1945 and 1967, he served as director of Harvard's Botanical Museum.

His citation reads: "By his teaching and leadership, he has notably advanced botanical studies; by his painstaking research, he has found new seed to feed the world's hungry."

Jordan, who was first elected to the House of Representatives from Texas's 18th District in 1972, was the first black Congresswoman to come from the deep South. Before that, she had served in the state senate since 1966.

Jordan gained national prominence in 1974 as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which was charged with evaluating evidence bearing on the possible impeachment of then President Richard M. Nixon.

At that time, Jordan's position that "impeachable offenses" included "subversion of the system of government" received a great deal of publicity.

More recently, Jordan stepped into the spotlight when she served as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in New York last July.

Throughout her career, Jordan has taken strong positions on civil rights, but has consistently argued that blacks must stay within the legal political system in their struggle for equal opportunities.

Jordan, who was born in Houston, Tex., in 1936, has backed legislation aimed at raising the living standard of and increasing opportunities for impoverished Americans, and vigorously supported efforts to extend aid to the elderly and disabled throughout her career.

Jordan's citation: "Powerful, outspoken champion of the downtrodden, she skillfully uses the political and legislative process to make our plenty fairly serve the needs of all."

Gordon, the only businessman in the group, is widely known at Harvard as one of the University's most generous alumni, and has been particularly involved in developing the varsity athletic program here.

He does not always limit his involvement to his extremely generous gifts. This spring, Gordon was one of several alumni who requested that the University committee charged with finding a new director of athletics reconsider its favored candidate for the post.

The alumni and other members of the community who objected to the candidate apparently felt he would have placed too much emphasis on intramural--rather than intercollegiate--sports.

Although the committee had apparently voted unanimously in favor of the candidate, he eventually withdrew his application, citing outside political pressures on the selection committee.

Born in Scituate in 1901, Gordon is the director of several firms, including the Allen Group, Inc., the Carnation Co. and the Commercial Credit Co. He also holds down trusteeships of the national board of the YMCA and the Roxbury Latin School in Boston.

Gordon's citation reads, "Harvard hails a signally generous son, a business leader who sets a swift pace, exemplar of a quick mind in a sound body."

Sir Richard W. Southern is a noted historian of the Middle Ages, and his books have received world-wide recognition for the quality of their scholarship.

Born in 1912 and educated at Oxford's Balliol College, Southern later studied in Paris and Munich before returning to Oxford shortly before World War II. His books include "The Making of the Middle Ages," which has been translated into several languages, "Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages," and "Medieval Humanism and Other Studies," which received the 1970 Royal Society of Literature Award.

In 1965, Southern was made a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and in 1972 he joined the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences as a foreign member.

Southern's citation reads, "From the silences of history, this meticulous and discerning scholar has evoked a fresh perception of the Middle Ages."

Eudora Welty's work, following in the tradition of Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner, is based on her perception of a distinctive Southern character, enduring despite massive changes in the social structure of the South.

Born in 1909 in Jackson, Miss., Welty has used her vision of the South to provide a metaphor for the mystery of human lives far beyond that landscape, providing insights, often complex and elusive, into the intricate relations between all men and women.

Perhaps one of America's most distinguished novelists--her novelThe Optimist's Daughter received the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for fiction--Welty still lives in Jackson, close to the characters she has immortalized in her fiction.

Welty's citation says: "Her compassionately observant eye, concern for style and place sensitively reveal the humor, pathos and mystery on the worn path of our shared experience."

Perhaps better known to the generation that matured during the '50s than to the one coming of age now, Marian Anderson was at one time one of the world's best-loved contraltos.

In 1935, Toscanini heard her sing and told her, "A voice like yours is heard only once in a hundred years."

One of the first black artists to achieve such international recognition, Anderson, whose repertory ranges from Bach to spirituals, took a strong stand against the segregationist laws that were still in effect until the mid-1960s.

She refused to sing concerts where blacks were not allowed to sit in every part of the auditorium--front as well as back--although she would sing even if they were still kept separate from the rest of the audience.

The most famous incident dramatizing her political as well as artistic position came in 1939, when her manager was refused booking at the Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C., because of Anderson's race.

Anderson sang instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, before an audience of 75,000.

Born in 1902 in Philadelphia. Anderson received the Bok Prize in 1940 as an outstanding Philadelphian. She used the $10,000 stipend to set up the Marian Anderson Award, a fund to help young people pursue artistic careers regardless of race or creed.

Anderson's citation reads: "With a voice of overwhelming beauty, she has lifted the spirits of her countrymen: with grace and dignity, she has exemplified the true meaning of fraternity and freedom."

The seven people who received honorary degrees this morning were selected by a small committee composed of members of the governing boards and faculty last fall.

Each year, the committee begins the selection process in September, soliciting suggestions for the honorary degrees awards from members of the Harvard community and alumni, and within a few weeks starts to trim down a list of more than 300 names.

The only requirement for an honorary degree is that the chosen recipient come to the Commencement exercises to receive the degree in person.

Normally, the University awards eight honorary degrees, but this year one degree recipient was forced to cancel his appearance here at the last minute, an administration source said this week.

Harvard's honorary degrees usually go to people who the committee believes have received less recognition for their contributions than they deserve, which is why the University's honorary degree recipients are often less well known than those at other schools.

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