Yale Bestows Eleven Honorary Degrees During Its 302nd Commencement

During its 302nd Commencement held on Old Campus on May 26, Yale University awarded honorary degrees to 11 distinguished persons selected by the Yale Corporation, presented by the Provost and conferred by the President.

Robert Louis Bernstein (Doctor of Humane Letters), publisher and human rights activist, who has devoted his life to the active defense of freedom of expression and to the protection of victims of injustice and abuse throughout the world. He received his early schooling in New York City and earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, cum laude. As one of the most influential voices in American publishing for over three decades, he is also a dominant force in the development of the international human rights movement. He has won numerous awards, including the Florina Lasker Award from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Award from the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the Spirit of Liberty Award from People for the American Way, the Barnard Medal of Distinction from Barnard College, the Curtis Benjamin Award for Distinguished Publishing from the Association of American Publishers, and, in 1998, the first Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, which was presented by President Bill Clinton. At Yale, Bernstein has been honored by friends and colleagues with the establishment of the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowships in International Human Rights at the Law School. The fellowships are awarded annually to two or three Law School graduates devoted to advancing human rights protection around the world. He has also lectured at Yale and served as a Gordon Grand Fellow.

Sydney Brenner (Doctor of Science) is Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and a pioneer in the field of genetics. His research, including the co-discovery of messenger RNA, has contributed to advancements in the knowledge of the structure and functions of genes. In recognition of this work, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002. Brenner was born and educated in South Africa, earning a bachelor’s degree in medicine and a master’s degree in medical biology from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Following graduation, he embarked on a path of independent research in areas related to molecular biology. He soon decided to pursue additional study and moved to Oxford University, where he earned his D.Phil. in 1954. After a brief tenure at his alma mater in Johannesburg, he was appointed to the staff of the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge. Brenner served as Director of the Unit of Molecular Genetics at Cambridge from 1986 to 1992. After retiring as head of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Brenner founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, where he served as Director until 2001. He continues his research through his affiliation with the Salk Institute.

William H. Cosby Jr. (Doctor of Humane Letters), the internationally known actor and entertainer famous for his starring role in “The Cosby Show,” is also one of the country’s strong advocates for education, children, and the support of African-American art and artists. Considering himself a late bloomer, he did not appreciate the value of formal education until after he left school to enlist in the U.S. Navy’s medical corps. After serving in the Navy for four years, he enrolled at Temple University. He went on to earn his doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. He has received eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four People’s Choice Awards. He received the Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1984. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1994 and was honored by the Kennedy Center in 1998 for lifetime achievement. Widely respected as a child advocate and humanitarian, he has used his talents and public renown to call attention to the needs of children. He is active in civil rights causes and is a strong advocate of the power of education, contributing generously to colleges and universities, especially those whose student bodies are predominantly African-American. His philanthropic ventures include the formation of a major national center to support the work of African-American women and gifts to support the creation and preservation of African-American art.

John Hart Ely (Doctor of Laws) is a professor and legal scholar. His seminal contributions to the field of constitutional law are counted among the most influential legal writings of the second half of the twentieth century. Ely graduated from Princeton University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree. He went on to law school at Yale, where he completed his degree in 1963. After graduating from Yale, he served as the youngest member of the staff of the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and then as Chief Justice Earl Warren’s law clerk at the Supreme Court. Following this, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Award, which enabled him to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science for a year. One of Ely’s most important contributions to legal scholarship is his book Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review, in which he defined and defended a conception of the Supreme Court as an institution charged primarily with protecting the integrity of the processes of democratic government, not as an independent source of moral and political values distinct from those endorsed by the people through the normal channels of representative lawmaking. He received an Order of the Coif award for the book in recognition of its status as one of the most influential legal books of its time. Several citation studies at various universities establish Democracy and Distrust as the most frequently cited book about law in the last quarter century. Similar studies rank Professor Ely generally as the fourth most frequently cited American legal scholar, immediately succeeding Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Several of his other works are listed among the classics of legal scholarship, among them his analysis of Roe v. Wade in “The Wages of Crying Wolf.” He has also written on the constitutional deficiencies of the Vietnam War in his book War and Responsibility; further explored themes of democracy and constitutional law in On Constitutional Ground; and authored numerous articles on reverse discrimination, voting rights, and other subjects related to constitutional law.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. (Doctor of Medical Sciences) is a physician who has been a leader in the fight against acquired immune deficiency syndrome, commonly known as AIDS. He currently serves as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institutes of Health. He attended a Jesuit high school in Manhattan and graduated from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, having studied a pre-med curriculum. He went on to Cornell University, where he earned his medical degree in 1966. Following an internship and residency at Cornell, he came to the National Institutes of Health as a clinical associate at the NIAID in 1968. With almost a million Americans, and millions more internationally, infected with HIV, Fauci’s work has been guided by a sense of urgency. He has been instrumental in obtaining funding for research on AIDS. In addition, he has involved the AIDS community in discussion about research procedures and priorities. As part of his conversations with AIDS advocates, the NIH formed the AIDS Clinical Trial Group to get experimental drugs to sick people sooner while still continuing to collect important research data about the drugs’ effectiveness. His compassionate approach, combined with his scientific skill, has earned him the respect of his scholarly peers and many activists in the AIDS community. Widely recognized in the scientific community for his work, Fauci has received numerous awards and honors. He received the Arthur S. Fleming Award in 1979, the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal in 1984, the National Medical Research Award from the National Health Council in 1989, and the Albany Prize for Medicine and Biomedical Research in 2002. Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written widely in scientific journals and is the editor of several medical textbooks.

Norman Foster (Doctor of Fine Arts) is an architect of international renown whose buildings marry technology and strong design elements, while respecting environmental concerns. Following his Yale education, Foster founded the Team 4 architectural practice in 1963, and then, in 1967, opened Foster Associates in London, now known as Foster and Partners. The earliest work by the firm incorporated technology in ways that went beyond conventional practice. His buildings combine advanced techniques that demonstrate environmental respect. Foster strives to incorporate design innovations that reduce energy consumption and the resulting greenhouse effect. The Commerzbank building, for example, uses natural ventilation more than half the year, greatly reducing reliance on air conditioning. In 1999, Foster was awarded the Pritzker Prize, perhaps the most prestigious honor within the field of architecture. The Prize was given in recognition of his commitment to the future of the planet, his embrace of technological progress, and his belief that the purpose of architecture is to serve people and enhance the quality of life. In addition to the Pritzker, Foster has received the Gold Medal of the AcadŽmie d’Architecture, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, and the Prince Philip Designers Prize. He is an active member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he was appointed to the Order of Merit by the Queen in 1997. He is a Royal Designer for Industry, a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Doctor of Laws), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, has been instrumental in promoting the law’s recognition of women’s full citizenship stature. She graduated from Cornell University with high honors in government and distinction in all subjects. Two years later, after marriage and the birth of her first child, she enrolled in law school at Harvard. She transferred to Columbia for her final year and graduated from that law faculty in 1959. She was widely acknowledged for her scholarly contributions to the law, but it was her work as a litigator that gained her national attention. She served as counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union and co-directed the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. In 1980, she was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993, and she was swiftly confirmed. Her judicial opinions are carefully crafted, well reasoned, and mindful of the impact of the law on people’s lives. She has authored or co-authored a number of books and scores of law journal articles on topics relating to civil procedure, conflict of laws, constitutional law, and comparative law. She is a former Council member of the American Law Institute. Among other affiliations, she is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Recipient of numerous prizes and awards, she was honored by the American Bar Association in 1999 with the Thurgood Marshall Award for her efforts to advance gender equality and human rights.

David Hartman (Doctor of Divinity) is one of the leading Jewish theologians of our time. A rabbi, philosopher, and internationally known author, he is the founder and Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He attended Hebrew schools in New York and completed his ordination studies at Yeshiva University in 1953. He went on to pursue graduate studies at Fordham. His studies gave him a firm foundation in Jewish thought as well as an appreciation for a diversity of spiritual experience. He served as a congregational rabbi in the Bronx for five years before moving to Montreal in 1960 to become the rabbi of Congregation Tiferet beit David Jerusalem. During his time in Montreal, he studied at McGill University and completed his doctoral degree in philosophy. Widely respected as one of the most influential religious thinkers in the Jewish world today, Hartman has been a leading advocate for pluralism among Jews and coexistence between Arabs and Jews. For more than twenty years, Hartman was Professor of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also held visiting professorships at the Universities of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles. He has written widely in scholarly publications and is the author of numerous books, including A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism; A Heart of Many Rooms; Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest; Epistles of Maimonides: Crisis and Leadership; and most recently, Love and Terror in the God Encounter. His 1998 Terry Lectures at Yale have been published as Israelis and the Jewish Tradition: An Ancient People Debating Its Future. The honors he has received for his scholarly and theological work include the National Jewish Book Award in 1977 and again in 1986, and the Leah Goldberg Prize in 1993. In 2000, he received the AVI CHAI Prize in Israel, given to recognize and reward individuals who contribute toward increasing mutual understanding and sensitivity among Israeli Jews of different backgrounds and commitments to Jewish heritage. He has also been named a “Guardian of Jerusalem,” on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Nell Irvin Painter (Doctor of Letters), Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University, has worked throughout her career to include the experiences of African Americans, women, and the working class as vital parts of U.S. history. She completed her bachelor’s degree with honors in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. During her undergraduate years, she spent a summer in Nigeria and her junior year at the University of Bordeaux. She returned to Africa, where she enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies. Study in France and Ghana sparked her interest in history, and she returned to the United States to earn a master’s degree in history at the University of California at Los Angeles. She went on to complete her doctorate in U.S. history at Harvard. She is known for rewriting the master narrative of turn-of-the-century America by connecting domestic and international affairs through race and gender. Widely esteemed as a teacher and mentor, she has also trained a generation of historians of the South who follow her example of unifying, rather than compartmentalizing, history. From 1974 until 1980, Painter taught at the University of Pennsylvania, before moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a professor of history. She came to Princeton in 1988, where she has also served as Director of the Program in African-American Studies. She has served on numerous editorial boards and as an officer in numerous professional associations, among them the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of American Historians, the Association of Black Women Historians, and the American Antiquarian Society. Widely honored for her work, she is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Association of University Women, the Candace Award from the National Coalition of One Hundred Black Women, and the Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award for graduate teaching from the American Historical Association. She has been a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Humanities Center.

Krzysztof Penderecki (Doctor of Music) is a composer and conductor whose work has stretched the boundaries of music, bringing new expression to contemporary and ancient themes. His compositions have been inspired by the horror of the Holocaust as well as by classical sacred texts and liturgies. He was educated in Cracow at Jangiellonian University and the Cracow Conservatory, where he served as a professor following his graduation in 1958. In 1959, he made his international debut at the Warsaw Autumn Festival, performing Strophes, one of three works for which he received the top three prizes at the second National Young Composers Competition. That same year, he composed Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, which has become one of his best-known and most often performed pieces. He has composed other major choral pieces, including Dies Irae (1967), also known as the Auschwitz Oratorio and dedicated to the victims of Auschwitz, Stabat Mater (1962), Cosmogony (1970), Ecloga VIII (1972), Magnificat (1973-74), Te Deum (1978-80), Lacrimosa (1980), Agnus Dei (1981), and Polish Requiem (1980-84), one of his best-known works. His operas include The Devils of Loudun (1968-69), Paradise Lost (1976-78), The Black Mask (1984-86), and Ubu Rex (1990-91). His work also includes pieces for solo instruments, jazz ensemble, and chamber music. In addition to his work as a composer, he is also a conductor and has worked with orchestras in Germany, Poland, Puerto Rico, and China. From 1972 to 1978, Penderecki was a visiting professor in the Yale School of Music. He has also served on the faculties of the Academy of Music in Cracow and the Folkwang Hochschule fŸr Musik in Essen. His many honors include four Grammy Awards. He was awarded the Herder Prize in 1977, the Grand Medal of Paris in 1982, the Sibelius Prize of Finland in 1983, and the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 2000, and he was recognized as the Best Living Composer at Midem Cannes 2000. Among others, he is a member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and the Akademie der Kunste in Germany.

Amartya Kumar Sen (Doctor of Social Science), an economist and philosopher, received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory, and related to that, the causation and remedy of poverty and famine. Born in India in 1933, he studied in at India’s Presidency College, Calcutta, and subsequently earned a doctorate at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has been Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University and Delhi University in India, and at the London School of Economics; the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford; and the Lamont University Professor at Harvard. Presently he is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. His research on fundamental problems in welfare economics was the basis for the Nobel Prize in Economics. The Nobel Committee also commended the range of his contributions, from axiomatic theory of social choice, and construction of welfare indicators and poverty indexes, to empirical studies of famine. With a portion of the Nobel prize money, he created the Pratichi Trust, which addresses literacy, basic health care, and gender equity in India and Bangladesh. He has written widely, with one of his earliest books, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, continuing to be one of his best-known works. Among others, he has written On Economic Inequality; Poverty and Famines; Choice, Welfare and Measurement; Resources, Values and Development; On Ethics and Economics; Inequality Reexamined; Development as Freedom; Reason before Identity; and most recently, Rationality and Freedom. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has been honored as a Fellow of the British Academy, an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society. He has served as President of the American Economic Association, the Indian Economic Association, the International Economic Association, and the Econometric Society.

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