Photographer Ansel Adams, opera singer Leontyne Price and Oscar Zariski, Robinson Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, will receive honorary degrees at Thursday's Commencement exercises. In addition, several sources indicated yesterday that former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance may be on this year's list of ten honorary degree recipients.
Vance could not be reached for comment yesterday, but his secretary in New York City confirmed that he would be in Boston late this week.
An official in the Kennedy School of Government said recently that Vance will receive an honorary degree, and a source close to the Board of Overseer's Standing Committee on Honorary Degrees would not deny yesterday that the committee had tapped the former Secretary of State.
The 1980 Commencement speaker. Vance did not receive an honorary degree last year. His secretary said he did not accept the invitation to appear at Harvard last June until after the selection of honorary degree recipients was made.
Other University officials have suggested that the Board of Overseers did not wish to grant an honorary degree to a figure as political as Vance, who resigned last spring to express disagreement with the Carter administration's decision to send a rescue mission to Iran.
Adams, who has alse received honorary doctorates of fine arts from four other universities including Yale, said yesterday the Harvard degree will be "the most important I can think of--probably the apex."
The 79-year-old photographer, famous for his portraits of America and his pioneering photographic techniques, said his first reaction upon hearing that he would receive an honorary was bewilderment: "I thought, 'Wait a minute--Do they have the right man?'"
Calling himself "extremely honored," Adams said Harvard may have made one mistake in giving him a degree. "They've got me down as a naturalist, but I'm an environmentalist," he said.
Adams, who will autograph copies of his new collection of photographs at 11 a.m. today at the Fogg Arat Museum, acknowledged his respect for the non-honorary doctorates, saying "How many (honorary degrees) do you have to get to equal the real one?--I don't think any number would do it."
Price, one of the first Black opera singers to achieve international success, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Price's manager, Hubert Dilworth, said yesterday. "I think it's wonderful--it's certainly deserved." Noting that Price has already received honorary degrees from Yale and Columbia, among other universities, but added that he did not know what kind of degree she would receive at Harvard.
Elizabeth Winston, Price's press agent, said yesterday. "Whenever she gets these degrees, its been our policy not to get publicity until it takes place." She added, "it would be kind of cheap to get a few lines in before it actually happens on the fourth."
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