Commencement Speakers Named

Planning for Commencement 2005 is underway. This week the University named the Commencement Speaker, Baccalaureate Speaker and the recipients of honorary degrees for this spring’s Commencement ceremonies. Founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Marian Wright Edelman will address the class of 2005 near Taylor Lake this May. Edelman established the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. The CDF is an organization that works to provide healthcare, immunizations and food as well as further education opportunities for disadvantaged children. Edelman graduated from Spelman College and attended law school at Yale University, where she went on to become the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She has been active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and has served as counsel to the Poor People’s Campaign, an organization begun by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, Edelman founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest advocacy group. She served for two years as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University. Edelman has served on numerous boards in her lifetime including the Board of Trustees of Spelman College, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Association to Benefit Children, City Lights School and Outward Bound. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institution of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Edelman was the first woman to be elected by alumni to the Yale University Corporation, on which she served for six years. She has received the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award and was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. Edelman has written seven books and received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for these writings. In 2000 she was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Choosing Edelman as Colgate’s Commencement speaker was a process that began almost one year ago. “The decision is made by the Joint Committee on Honorary Degrees and Civic Awards,” Secretary of the College Kim Waldron said. “It is composed of faculty members, members of the Board of Trustees and, this year, the senior class president, Carrie Guay. The President sent an email to the class of 2005 in June, asking for nominations. Students were asked for suggestions for speakers from all walks of life including philanthropists, business leaders or academics. The committee reviewed these and other nominations to make their final decisions,” Waldron said. This year’s commencement speaker particularly excites the University because a student, as well as a faculty member, nominated her. The Secretary of the College further explained that the nomination process is the same for the Baccalaureate speaker and recipients of Honorary Degrees. Father J. Bryan Hehir will deliver the Baccalaureate sermon for Commencement 2005. Hehir is the former CEO and president of Catholic Charities USA and currently serves as the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Kennedy School of Government. As a theologian he is known for his works in ethics and international relations. Colgate will be giving out three honorary degrees in addition to the two awarded to speakers this spring. One recipient will be former United States Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher. Dr. Satcher served as the Director for the Center of Disease Control and Prevention as well as on the faculties of the UCLA School of Medicine and King-Drew Medical Center. Satcher is currently the interim president of Atlanta’s Morehouse school of Medicine. American artist Alex Katz will receive an honorary degree from the University. Katz is known for his paintings and portraits of modern realism. The third and final honorary degree will be given to alumnus, Emlyn Griffith of ’42. An attorney, Griffith has been active on the New York State Board of Regents and has served on the New York State and county bar associations, as a resident of Rome, NY. Griffith has been active in public service and has passionately encouraged students to attend Colgate. The University can now take a sigh of relief as plans fall into place for commencement ceremonies. Students and faculty will wait in anticipation for the words of wisdom that will come from this group of diverse and distinguished individuals as we honor and say farewell to the class of 2005.