Since the first Yale commencement in 1702, certain distinguished persons selected by the Yale Corporation have received honorary degrees. The Provost announces the name of each recipient, the Senior Marshal and Corporation Marshal place a hood over the shoulders of the recipient, and the President reads a citation and confers the degree.
The following men and women were awarded honorary degrees this year: His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch, Orthodox Church, a Doctor of Divinity degree; Lena Horne, entertainer, Doctor of Humane Letters; Gerda Lerner, historian, Doctor of Letters; David McCullough, Yale Class of 1955, author, Doctor of Letters; Sadako Ogata, humanitarian, Doctor of Humane Letters; Frederick P. Rose, Yale Class of 1944 Engineering, volunteer leader and philanthropist, Doctor of Humane Letters; Robert L. Shaw, conductor, Doctor of Music; Edward O. Wilson, scientist and author, Doctor of Science; and Muhammad Yunus, economist, Doctor of Social Sciences.
His All Holiness Bartholomew I
Ecumenical Patriarch, Orthodox Church
Doctor of Divinity
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew and has been the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide since 1991. He is known both in Europe and the United States as the "Green Patriarch" because of his outspoken concern for the environment. He has convened an international symposium on the oceans and an environmental conference on the Black Sea. At the Santa Barbara Symposium on Religion, Science, and the Environment in 1997, he declared degradation of the natural world to be sin, which is believed to be the first time a religious leader has characterized environmental harm as sinful behavior. He has also used his office in the Orthodox Church to proclaim an annual message on the protection of creation.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is a noted scholar of the canon law of his church and has earned several advanced degrees. He is widely traveled and is fluent in seven languages. As a Turkish citizen, he has used his unique perspective to foster the dialogue between the Christian and Islamic worlds. Throughout the world, he has worked persistently to advance reconciliation among Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, and Orthodox communities, and to build unity among Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Yale's citation reads: "As the religious leader of millions upon millions of Orthodox Christians around the world, many of them emerging from decades of oppression, you have become a focus for spiritual renewal, unity, and interfaith understanding. You have crossed religious and political boundaries with your message of hope and peace, living up to your historic title of Ecumenical Patriarch. In faithfulness to the cosmic dimension of Eastern Orthodoxy, you have promoted harmony between humanity and nature, which has earned you well-deserved recognition as the 'Green Patriarch.' For your work around the world on behalf of all peoples, Yale is proud to hail you as an 'Axios' -- truly worthy -- and to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Divinity."
Doctor of Humane Letters
Lena Horne has thrilled stage and screen audiences throughout the world for more than 50 years. She began at age 16 as a dancer at Harlem's Cotton Club, later launching her solo career at Cafe Society, the first New York night spot to welcome racially mixed audiences. In the 1940s, she became the first African-American performer under a long-term contract with MGM, appearing in such films as "Cabin in the Sky" and "Stormy Weather." Nevertheless, she found herself facing limited roles that often perpetuated demeaning racial stereotypes. She steadfastly refused these roles, and the studio eventually laid her off. Horne was later barred from Hollywood during the McCarthy era and became a nightclub sensation abroad, returning to the United States in the late 1950s to work on Broadway and, later, television. In 1981, she electrified Broadway with her one-woman show, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music."
An activist in the 1960s civil rights movement, Horne continues to promote expanded opportunities for African-Americans. Her awards and honors include the Paul Robeson Award from Actor's Equity, Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contributions to the arts, a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement, a special Tony Award and the Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Society of Singers.
"You once said you wanted to be a teacher instead of a singer. You have been both, because we have all learned from you, from your music, from your films, and from your social activism. In the stormy weather of a segregated society, you were a pioneer who refused to be stereotyped. A singer of legendary status, your artistic achievement continues to amaze and delight us, winning new generations of admirers. You are elegant, gifted, and courageous, and we sing your praises by conferring this degree of Doctor of Humane Letters."
Doctor of Letters
Gerda Lerner's career has been synonymous with the founding and growth of the field of women's history. Born in Vienna, she was imprisoned when the Nazis assumed power in Austria and later fled to the United States. During the next 20 years, she married, raised two children, wrote a novel and the screenplay of "Black Like Me," and collaborated with Eve Merriam on a musical. In 1959, she returned to school, earning bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. For her 1972 book, "Black Women in White America," she traveled throughout the South, gathering the material to give voice to those who had previously been ignored. Also that year, she persuaded Sarah Lawrence College to offer a master's degree in women's studies; this would later inspire many doctoral programs in the field, including that of the University of Wisconsin, where she is now professor emerita.
"The Creation of Patriarchy" -- the first volume in her two-volume work "Women and History" -- won the American Historical Association's Joan Kelly Award for the best book in women's history. She was the first woman president of the Organization of American Historians, which each year presents the Gerda Lerner-Anne Firor Scott Prize, for the best dissertation in women's history.
"Rightly recognized as a preeminent founder of the contemporary field of women's history, you have given voice to those long ignored in historical chronicles. Your own voice has been powerful, persistent, and persuasive, inspiring a generation to follow your intellectual lead. You have shown that integrating the history of women into the human record can illuminate the present and transform the future. Your courageous and forthright expressions as social activist, organizer, creative writer, teacher, and historian have provided women with an inspiring model. We celebrate your talents and accomplishments with the degree of Doctor of Letters."
David McCullough '55
Doctor of Letters
David McCullough graduated from Yale in 1955 with honors in English literature and began his career as writer and editor for Time Inc. in New York City. He has written six widely acclaimed books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Truman",1992, which was 10 years in the making and has sold over a million copies. He also wrote "The Johnstown Flood"; "The Great Bridge," about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge; "The Path Between the Seas," chronicling the creation of the Panama Canal; "Mornings on Horseback," about the young Theodore Roosevelt; and "Brave Companions," essays on heroic figures past and present.
Highly acclaimed as a lecturer, he has hosted "The American Experience" and narrated numerous documentaries, including "The Civil War." McCullough is one of the few private citizens to have spoken before a joint session of Congress. He is a past president of the Society of American Historians, and, as a founding member of Protect Historic America, he led the fight to stop the Disney Corporation from building a theme park beside the Manassas Battlefield in Virginia. His honors include awards from the National Book Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two National Book Awards and an Emmy for his work in public television.
"As a student at Yale, you once studied portraiture. As an historian, you paint with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe, and, above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character. You have conveyed the results of deep scholarship to a wide audience in clear and compelling prose. You have also worked to protect historic sites. We are honored to offer you your place in Yale's history by awarding you the degree of Doctor of Letters."
Doctor of Humane Letters
Sadako Ogata became the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1991 and is acclaimed in humanitarian and diplomatic circles for her work with refugees throughout the world. In that post, she has underscored the need to link political action with humanitarian response. Shortly after assuming her U.N. post, for instance, she was confronted with the crisis in the former Yugoslavia that displaced more than 2 million Muslims, Croats and Serbs. She called upon the U.N. Security Council to intervene to stop the fighting in order to ensure the delivery of aid and to safeguard humanitarian workers. Her strong stand and unconventional approach during that crisis won her praise from relief organization leaders worldwide.
A former international relations professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, Ogata grew up in a family of Japanese diplomats. She was one of the first women to serve as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Permanent Mission of Japan to the U.N. as well as Japan's representative on the Commission on Human Rights. She has written a number of books including, most recently, "The United Nations: In The Next Fifty Years."
"As the daughter of diplomats, you have made a career of putting people before politics. In the midst of the world's most difficult and tragic situations, you exhibit strength, calmness, and conviction in your work as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. You have served as a conscience for the world, calling us to responsible protection of the vulnerable and displaced. A professor of international relations, you practice what you teach. Author, scholar, humanitarian: we celebrate your pioneering work by awarding you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters."
Frederick P. Rose '44E
Volunteer Leader and Philanthropist
Doctor of Humane Letters
Frederick P. Rose is the chair of Rose Associates Inc., one of New York City's oldest and largest construction, real estate management and development firms. He has also worked to develop cultural and educational institutions and to encourage volunteer service. Rose graduated from Yale in 1944 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He helped guide the creation of the Association for Yale Alumni and chaired its first Board of Governors; he was a member of the University Council; and he served as a successor trustee on the Yale Corporation, where he was a leading supporter of the University's building renovation program. He has supported teaching and learning at Yale through the creation of endowed professorships, scholarships at the Schools of Architecture and Music, the AYA's Community Service Fellowships, the Humanities in Medicine program and other projects. He also serves on the boards of several of the country's leading cultural and educational institutions, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and Rockefeller University. His many awards and honors include the Yale Medal, 1976, and the Medal of Honor from the Yale Science and Engineering Society, 1991.
"Builder and philanthropist, you have left your mark indelibly on your university and your city. A founder of the Association of Yale Alumni and a Fellow of the Yale Corporation, you sounded the clarion for a comprehensive renovation of the campus you love. Drawing on a lifetime of experience, you have become New York City's preeminent builder of cultural institutions, devoting yourself to the improvement and expansion of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Public Library. We take great pride in your service to scholarship and the arts as we confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters."
Robert L. Shaw
Doctor of Music
Robert Shaw became Music Director Emeritus and Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1988, having served as its Music Director for 21 years. During his tenure there, he built the Atlanta Symphony into a major American orchestra. He continues to be a regular guest conductor of major orchestras in this country and abroad. Shaw began his career in New York, where he formed and directed the Collegiate Chorale, and prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. Soon he was conducting major symphony orchestras. In 1948, he formed the Robert Shaw Chorale, which became a premier touring choral group.
He worked for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra before going to Atlanta. A frequent visitor to Yale, he recently conducted Paul Hindemith's Requiem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," as part of Yale's Hindemith centennial celebration; this was a work he had commissioned as a young conductor in 1945. He serves on the School of Music's University Council Committee. His honors include 14 Grammy Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of the Arts, France's Medal of Officier des Arts et des Lettres and an appointment by President Jimmy Carter to the National Council on the Arts.
"Son and grandson of preachers, you have made music your pulpit. Your work, at once artistic and scholarly, is also theological, as it engages our spirits through music. With voices and instruments, you have captured the mystery and wonder in our world, indeed its ideal harmony. A creative visionary, you have explored new forms and sounds to give us the best of contemporary music. For your inspired service as conductor, composer, and teacher, Yale takes pride in conferring upon you this degree of Doctor of Music."
Edward O. Wilson
Scientist and Author
Doctor of Science
Edward O. Wilson has earned a reputation as a scientist who is also concerned with the moral dimensions of his research because of his tireless efforts to educate the public about the ecological consequences of human behavior. His 1992 book, "The Diversity of Life," focused international attention on global biodiversity. His "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis", 1975, helped introduce evolutionary biology in the field of human social development; it also created much controversy. To clarify his position, Wilson wrote "On Human Nature," a 1979 Pulitzer Prize winner, demonstrating how both culture and biology determine human behavior. Wilson is the world's leading authority on ants, and his "The Ants," coauthored with Bert Holldobler, also won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990. His most recent work, "Consilience: Unity of Knowledge," has been released to wide acclaim.
A Harvard faculty member since 1956, Wilson is now the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science and the curator of entomology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. He has been a member of the boards of numerous international ecological and wildlife organizations. He has won many awards, including the National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the International Prize for Biology of Japan.
"You have learned great lessons from small creatures and shared that learning through your scholarship, teaching, and elegant writing. As a world-renowned biologist and environmentalist, you have documented the diversity of life on earth and persuasively argued our human kinship with all other creatures. Yours has been a career of knowledge and expertise put to public service, even to warning us of the potential for environmental crisis. You have called yourself an Alabama ant-man. We are delighted now to call you a Yale man, as we name you Doctor of Science."
Doctor of Social Sciences
Muhammad Yunus is founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which has become a model for development economists worldwide. An economics teacher who believed that giving impoverished individuals small loans to finance their enterprises could help them begin to achieve economic prosperity, Yunus organized borrowers into groups of five and stipulated that if any of them failed to repay a loan, the future loans of the others could be jeopardized. This eventually led to the creation of the Grameen Bank, which has now loaned more than $2 billion, with a repayment rate of 98 percent. The bank operates over 1,000 branches in 36,000 Bangladesh villages, providing credit to over 2 million people. Yunus especially focused on women's enterprises, since he discovered they are apt to use their profits to improve their family's quality of life and to reinvest in their business. Women now comprise 94 percent of Grameen's borrowers. In 1989, Yunus founded the Grameen Trust, which has supported 68 Grameen replication projects in 27 countries. In 1991, he put his methods to work in agriculture by starting the Grameen Krishi Foundation. His numerous awards include the CARE Humanitarian Award for Development and the Independence Day Award, his own nation's highest honor.
"You have challenged the view that bigger is better in banking by launching an enormously successful program of small, yet significant, lending that has coupled capitalism with social responsibility. Your pioneering efforts in Bangladesh created a global model for micro-lending by demonstrating that the poorest of the poor, mostly women, are much better credit risks than many who are not poor. By lending to them, you have transformed the lives of thousands by creating the possibility for adequate housing, food, and economic stability. You have provided the means for dignity, security, and freedom from poverty. We honor your innovation with this degree of Doctor of Social Sciences."