Honorary Degree Citations Commencement 2009

The following were recipients of Honorary Degree Citations:

Yale University Commencement 2009
Honorary Degree Citations

Richard Serra
You bend the frame of art, creating works that both invite and demand participation.  Your focus on process does not end in your studio, but extends to the viewer’s mind and movement.  In sculpture that is massive in scale, intimate in involvement, and delicate in balance, you use materials, time, and space to make art that challenges, disorients, and surprises.  From the steel and other industrial materials of the shipyards of your youth, you have fashioned a body of work that flows, hovers, curves, and moves.  Beginning with “to roll” and ending with “to continue,” your work is art in motion. We are proud to honor you with another Yale degree, Doctor of Fine Arts.

William Drayton
You have defined and perfected the role of social entrepreneur, helping people around the world help themselves. As the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, you have sought creative solutions to the most pressing social problems. By guiding and supporting the work of more than 2,600 Ashoka Fellows, you are advancing economic development, environmental sustainability, public health, and human rights, and helping to build institutions that ensure continued progress. In your quest to abolish sorrow, we rejoice, and gratefully award you your second Yale degree:  Doctor of Humane Letters.

John McPhee
Versatile, adventurous, and incorrigibly curious, you write by entering the worlds of your subjects – paddling a birchbark canoe in Maine, riding shotgun in an eighteen-wheeler from Atlanta to Tacoma, watching the aurora borealis at 22 degrees below zero in Alaska, and eating a roast weasel in Georgia. You are a one-man liberal education. You have taught us about tennis, basketball, oranges, dams, geology, shad, the Merchant Marine, the Swiss Army, stolen art, nuclear terrorism, and cattle rustling. Your luminous prose has shaped the genre of literary journalism and set a standard unsurpassed. By connecting so deeply with the people and places in your stories, you connect us with them. We are pleased to name you Doctor of Letters.

Gustavo Gutiérrez
You are the father of liberation theology.  Through your witness and your words, you have called attention to God’s just and gracious love for all.  Rather than simply speaking on behalf of the poor, you have listened and created a climate for them to be heard.  From your work in the slums of Lima, to advanced study in medicine and theology, as well as in your writing and preaching, you have lived a faith that values all.  A Dominican priest, your conviction and concern have challenged the conscience of all faithful men and women, as you call for an end to the injustice of poverty.  With gratitude for your example, we honor you as Doctor of Divinity.

Alison Richard
As Yale’s longest serving provost, you gave vigorous support to the work of your faculty colleagues, and you inspired them to be committed university citizens. As the first woman to head the University of Cambridge, your alma mater, you have reshaped the role of Vice-Chancellor to provide true leadership. By expanding financial aid, augmenting the university’s resources, strengthening the management of its investments, and launching new collaborations with other universities, you are artfully melding innovation with tradition as Cambridge celebrates its 800th birthday, looking forward. Your legions of friends at Yale take pride in your leadership of higher education and delight in welcoming you home as we name you Doctor of Humane Letters.

Sofia Gubaidulina
You persevered through decades of state-imposed censorship, writing music that received no public hearing.  When your art was finally allowed its full expression, the world embraced your talent. You have explored dramatic combinations of classical and folk instruments, ordinary water glasses and thimbles, massive choruses and sudden silence. Your repertoire – at once both mystical and worldly – encompasses large orchestral pieces as well as intimate chamber music, film scores as well as sacred choral works.  To your well-earned international recognition as a leading contemporary composer, we are pleased to add our own tribute with this degree of Doctor of Music.

Leroy Hood
You are a scientist, an innovator, and an inspiration.  First a major contributor to immunology, you became a strong and early advocate of the Human Genome Project, understanding its scientific and technological potential well before many others. By devising new tools and techniques to sequence genes and proteins, you have accelerated the pace, increased the accuracy, and reduced the cost of biomedical research. Consistently cross-disciplinary, consistently a pioneer, you have received 14 patents, founded 11 companies, written over 500 articles, and still found time to make science accessible to children.  We honor your impressive accomplishments by awarding you the degree of Doctor of Medical Sciences.

Thomas Schelling
You have taught us that much of life is a game, and you have taught us how it should be played.  Your mastery of game theory has illuminated some of the most vexing problems of our times:  nuclear proliferation, arms control, racial discrimination, terrorism, and climate change.  By explaining the “rationality of irrationality” and “brinkmanship,” you have helped us appreciate how to respond even when the actions of others seem to defy logic. And you have shown us that the world’s response to climate change need not be framed as a zero-sum game. We are proud that you began the work that led to your Nobel Prize here at Yale and pleased that you honor us by becoming a Doctor of Social Science.

Bill T. Jones
As one of the leading choreographers and most inspired dancers of our time, you celebrate the human form in motion, and tap its power to reveal truths both personal and communal. By juxtaposing size, shape, color, sound, and rhythm, you imagine and embody movement that illuminates our experience, challenges our preconceptions, and expands our sense of empathy. You employ dance, drama, music, literature, video, and history to explore themes of inequality, oppression, struggle, and triumph.  On subjects ranging from AIDS to Abraham Lincoln to your own autobiography, you have expressed the complexity of life as a dancer, choreographer, author, and director with consummate grace. We are pleased to honor you today with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Throughout your career, you have called the nation’s attention to things that matter: health care, education, and the rights of women and children.  Through hard work, forceful advocacy, and an impressive grasp of the issues, you earned the respect of your colleagues in the Senate and the admiration of your constituents. You bring to your new role as Secretary of State tenacity and toughness, principle and pragmatism. We have known of your brilliance from your days as a student in the Yale Law School; now we admire your bravery in confronting ancient enmities, and your boldness in seeking peace. With pride and joy we welcome you back for your second Yale degree:  Doctor of Laws.