Citations for Recipients of Honorary Degrees at Yale University 2010

The following is President Levin’s introductory remarks for each honorary degree recipient.

Click here to view recipient bios.

ROBERT ALTER
As a scholar of comparative literature, your thoughtful and brilliant work ranges from studies of the English and European novel to questions of tradition and modernity to trends in American and Jewish culture. But the greatest gifts you have given us are your unparalleled translation and your interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. By combining a poetic ear with intellectual rigor, you have illuminated the meaning of these ancient sacred texts in a fresh voice that is faithful to their origins. Celebrating the beauty and inspiration of your work, we are pleased to name you DOCTOR OF HUMANITIES.

STEVEN CHU
As an experimental physicist, you accomplished the seemingly impossible by trapping and cooling atoms with beams of light. Now you are confronting another formidable challenge: transforming national energy policy. You are promoting new technologies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and, even more significantly, overcome the dangers of global warming. As a community of scholars we take pride that a Nobel laureate in physics is serving the nation at such a critical time, and we are delighted to honor you with the degree of DOCTOR OF SCIENCE.

DAVID LEVIN
You are an educational entrepreneur and visionary. After college, you set out on a road trip to Houston to Teach for America and ended up cofounding a series of charter schools. You have helped poor children achieve impressive levels of academic success and understand that knowledge is, indeed, power. You have created a movement with now more than eighty schools serving over 16,000 students. You are showing how classrooms can be transformed, and promise of public education fulfilled for our country. Most importantly, you are improving the lives of thousands of children, transmitting your own love of learning and affirming the ability of your students. We know that you practice what you teach: Work hard. Be nice. And we are pleased to award you a second Yale degree DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS.

MICHAEL FEINBERG
You are an educational entrepreneur and visionary. After college, you set out on a road trip to Houston to Teach for America and ended up cofounding a series of charter schools. You have helped poor children achieve impressive levels of academic success and understand that knowledge is, indeed, power. You have created a movement with now more than eighty schools serving over 16,000 students. You are showing how classrooms can be transformed, and promise of public education fulfilled for our country. Most importantly, you are improving the lives of thousands of children, transmitting your own love of learning and affirming the ability of your students. We know that you practice what you teach: Work hard. Be nice. And we are pleased to confer on you the degree of DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS.

ARETHA FRANKLIN
We know royalty when we see it, and you are, without question, the Queen of Soul. A natural woman, you have been singing your whole life, learning the grace of gospel from family and faith community, tuning it with your own sometimes painful, often joyful, experiences, and creating a signature style that transcends any one musical genre. You have sung the nation’s hopes at presidential inaugurations, and shared your gifts with generations of music lovers. From gospel to pop, from blues to hip-hop, your voice expresses our feelings. With the greatest R-E-S-P-E-C-T, we name you DOCTOR OF MUSIC.

ORHAN PAMUK
You have helped to give new life to the novel, one that weaves together past and present, modernity and history, national and cosmopolitan, secular and religious. Your stories are rich and multi-layered, complex and at times mystical. Your writing bridges themes of east and west, tackling issues and moral questions faced by thoughtful people in Turkey and around the globe. The world has honored you with countless devoted readers and a Nobel Prize. We add our acclaim with the degree of DOCTOR OF LETTERS.

MICHAEL RUTTER
Widely acclaimed as the father of child psychiatry, your pioneering work has powerfully advanced our understanding of the mental health, social development, and resilience of children and adolescents. Your seminal studies of the effects of disrupted maternal interaction and the emotional mechanisms for coping with stress have transformed the way we view child development. You have taken children seriously, examining behavior through the complex interaction of environment, interpersonal relationships, genes, neurobiology, and schooling. For your intellectual curiosity, your groundbreaking research, and your contributions to the well-being of children, we are proud to name you DOCTOR OF MEDICAL SCIENCES.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
As an advocate for reform and as the first woman elected as head of state in an African country, you are an inspiration. Arrested for challenging the ruling powers, you persevered to run for office, fight corruption, and bring integrity to government. Popular with your people and principled in your politics, you have promoted economic development, improved health, restored civility, and kept peace. Your vision of a renewed Liberia is becoming a reality because of your sacrifice, dedication, determination, and wisdom. We are honored to bestow upon you the degree of DOCTOR OF LAWS.

MARILYN STRATHERN
Your research has had a seminal influence on the field of social anthropology. From your studies of gender in Melanesia to your work on kinship in England, you have made fundamental substantive and methodological advances. You are an intellectual’s intellectual, admired by your students and respected by your colleagues. You are a teacher of uncompromising standards, and, as the head of Girton College, an exemplary citizen of Cambridge University. For your contributions to our understanding of the human family, we name you DOCTOR OF SOCIAL SCIENCE.

ZHANG YIMOU
A genius with camera and choreography, your work has portrayed China in all its glory, complexity, contradiction, and charm. In films that explore triumph and oppression, history and hope, you have captured the struggles of the human spirit, and engaged and enlightened audiences around the globe. From film to opera to live performance, your artistry amazes and entertains. The dazzling opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, your epic salute to Chinese history and culture, endures vividly in our memory. We are delighted to bestow on you this degree of DOCTOR OF FINE ARTS.