Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 26, 2000Volume 28, Number 33

Pictured are (front row, from left) Helen Vendler, Desmond M. Tutu, President Richard C. Levin, William F. Buckley Jr. and Daniel P. Moynihan; (back row) Dr. Samuel O. Thier, Hugh B. Price, Gerhard Casper, Tom Stoppard, Marie de la Soudière and Frank O. Gehry.

Honorary Degrees

Ten outstanding individuals were awarded honorary degrees during Commencement exercises on Old Campus on May 22. The names of this year's honorands, a short biography and their award citation follow.

William F. Buckley Jr.
Author and Commentator

Doctor of Humane Letters

William F. Buckley Jr. has played a formative role in the development of the modern conservative movement. He graduated from Yale College in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in political science, economics and history. He taught Spanish at Yale both as an undergraduate and after graduation, before becoming affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency in Mexico. Buckley came to fame in 1951 with his first book, "God and Man at Yale," based on his years at the University. He is founder and editor-at-large of the National Review, and his twice-weekly column "On the Right" appears in over 300 newspapers nationwide. His weekly television show, "Firing Line," featuring in-depth conversations with public figures, aired for 33 years, garnering an Emmy Award in 1969. A prolific writer in a variety of genres, Buckley has received many awards, including an American Book Award for Best Mystery in 1980. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991.

"A leading conservative spokesman and founding editor of the National Review, you have for a half century passionately defended individual liberty, traditional values and the free market. As a writer, debater and familiar television personality, you have advanced your ideas with eloquence, wit, intellect and style. At Yale, your sharp, youthful observations stirred controversy but also challenged us to self-examination. Years later, your precise use of language was appreciated by those Yale students fortunate enough to gain admission to your seminars on writing. On the 50th anniversary of your first Yale degree, we are proud and pleased to award this one: Doctor of Humane Letters."

Gerhard Casper
President of Stanford University

Doctor of Laws

Gerhard Casper has been one of the most respected leaders in higher education during the last two decades. A native of Germany, Casper studied law there before graduating from Yale Law School in 1962. He taught and held administrative posts at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago before assuming the Stanford University presidency in 1992. There, Casper has created initiatives to support first- and second-year college students; promoted the teaching of the sciences; and rebuilt the campus following the 1989 earthquake. When he leaves the Stanford presidency this summer, Casper will return to teaching. A noted scholar in the field of constitutional law, Casper was editor of The Supreme Court Review for 24 years, and has authored such books as "The Workload of the Supreme Court: A Theoretical and Empirical Study" (with Richard Posner) and "Separating Powers: Essays on the Founding Period."

"Scholar, teacher, humanist, you have carried the values of the Enlightenment with you as you moved westward from Germany to Yale -- your first American home -- to Chicago -- where you distinguished yourself as a scholar of constitutional law, dean, and provost -- and to Stanford -- where the wind of freedom blows. As Stanford's President, you turned the faculty's attention to its talented undergraduates, strengthened the humanities, and eloquently defended the independence of the nation's private universities. As you leave the Presidency, we bestow upon you a second Yale degree: Doctor of Laws."

Frank O. Gehry

Doctor of Fine Arts

Frank O. Gehry is an architect of international repute whose buildings are regarded as major works of art. He was educated at the University of Southern California and Harvard's Graduate School of Design, and worked with Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman in Los Angeles before opening his own firm there in 1962. Gehry's early work was characterized by the use of common building materials such as plywood, corrugated metal and chain-link fencing. He now creates complex designs that incorporate creative applications of stone, glass, stainless steel and titanium. He is perhaps best known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain's Basque country, which opened in 1997. Gehry's numerous honors include the Pritzker Prize, the National Medal of the Arts and the American Institute of Architects' Gold Medal.

"Your work is the art of architecture exemplified. Your stunning designs create a context for life that is original, surprising and beautiful. Your buildings are filled with light and air and grace. Your use of everyday building materials, such as chain link and plastic sheeting, is uniquely inventive. But you are equally the master of concrete, wood, stone and, most spectacularly, of titanium, with which you have crafted the definitive monument of our time, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. You are a great teacher, a great urbanist, but most of all a great architect -- one of the greatest of our time -- and we are pleased to grant you the degree of: Doctor of Fine Arts."

Daniel Patrick Moynihan
United States Senator

Doctor of Laws

Daniel Patrick Moynihan will retire from his post as U.S. senator from New York this year after four terms. Moynihan began his political career working for Governor Averell Harriman. He served in cabinet-level, ambassadorial and senior advisory positions for four presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Gerald R. Ford, and was elected to the Senate in 1976. A renowned academic, he is currently professor of government at Harvard University. Moynihan's 18 books include "Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City" (with Nathan Glazer), nominated for a National Book Award, and "Secrecy: The American Experience," about the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, which Moynihan chaired. His awards include the International League of Human Rights Award, the John LaFarge Award for Interracial Justice and the Heinz Award in Public Policy.

"You are a rare combination of statesman and scholar -- a leading voice in the national debate on such central issues as education, welfare reform, social security and taxation. In the halls of Congress and the halls of academe, your career is distinguished by political wisdom informed by scholarship and intellect applied in the service of the public good. Thoughtful, independent and courageous -- you have transcended ideological labels to take the long view, and America has benefited. We are honored to include you among our number, as we bestow this degree of: Doctor of Laws."

Hugh B. Price
President of the National Urban League

Doctor of Laws

Hugh B. Price has a long and distinguished career devoted to urban and minority issues. A 1966 graduate of Yale Law School, he was a neighborhood attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association; the first executive director of the Black Coalition of New Haven; and senior associate and partner at Cogen, Holt & Associates, an urban affairs consulting firm in New Haven. Price also worked in city government as the human resources administrator, supervising the Head Start program and other vital services. He brought public attention to a range of issues as a member of The New York Times editorial board and as senior vice president of WNET/Channel 13, New York City's public television station. He later became vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation, managing its urban education initiatives. Price is currently president and CEO of the National Urban League, a leading social service and civil rights organization. The Yale Law School has awarded him its Medal of Honor.

"Your life's work, shaped by service to community, has embraced both neighborhood and nation. From your first job in New Haven after Law School, through work in government, journalism and law -- your career has always focused on public service. You have championed a vision of social justice resting on a combination of public support and personal responsibility. As leader of the National Urban League, you bring clarity and commitment to the work of promoting social services and civil rights. We are honored to honor one of our own, with the degree of: Doctor of Laws."

Marie de la Soudière
International Refugee Worker and Child Advocate

Doctor of Social Science

Marie de la Soudière has been devoted to helping the youngest victims of war, unrest and oppression -- children. She is currently director of the Children Affected by Armed Conflict Program for the International Rescue Committee in New York. A native of France, she was working for the International Rescue Committee in Bangkok, Thailand, when she began to develop programs to trace the families of children separated from their parents by war and to train others in this work. She has continued these efforts throughout the world, reuniting thousands of children and families. She is founder and president of the Thread of Hope for Economic Advancement Foundation, Inc., in the Philippines, which employs impoverished families in the home manufacture of high-quality cotton nightwear. The profits from the sale of these garments provide the families with sewing machines, bonuses, scholarships, medical insurance, child care and an emergency fund.

"From Cambodia to Rwanda, you have helped reunite children and their families who have been separated in the chaos of conflict. You have inspired hope, provided help and empowered others through economic development initiatives for women in Thailand and your work with the International Rescue Committee. You have been fearless in fighting for children, a savior of lost little ones. We celebrate your life's work with this degree of: Doctor of Social Science."

Tom Stoppard

Doctor of Letters

Tom Stoppard is one of the British theater's leading dramatists. Born in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard lived in Singapore and India before his family moved to England. Over the past 30 years, his works have included radio and television plays, television and film screenplays, adaptations and translations of foreign works, and original works for the stage. His first major success was "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," which received the John Whiting Award and an Evening Standard Award. In his plays he has addressed such topics as politics and freedom, chaos theory and the life of poet A.E. Housman. His honors include two Tony awards, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a Shakespeare Prize, a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar in 1999 for "Shakespeare in Love." Stoppard was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1997 in recognition of his contributions to the theater.

"With wit and grace, you have captured the drama of our time and all time in comedy, parody, and farce. From 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' to 'Shakespeare in Love,' you have entertained us and prompted us to think seriously about the moral issues of our day. He who dares to put words in the mouth of Shakespeare, translate them from a love poem of Catullus, and use them to explain Fermat's last theorem is 'The Real Thing,' a true scholar. We salute your dramatic genius as we bestow this degree of: Doctor of Letters."

Dr. Samuel Osiah Thier
President and CEO, Partners HealthCare System, Inc.

Doctor of Medical Sciences

Dr. Samuel Osiah Thier has achieved distinction in the fields of medicine, health care policy and higher education. Thier has taught at several leading medical schools, including the Yale School of Medicine, where he was a faculty member from 1975 to 1985 and chaired the Department of Internal Medicine. A specialist in kidney disorders, Thier was also chief of medicine at Yale­New Haven Hospital. As president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, he raised awareness of public policy issues related to AIDS and cancer research. He has also served as president of Brandeis University and of Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1996, Thier became chief executive officer of Partners HealthCare System, Inc., which oversees Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the North Shore Medical Center. There, he has continued pressing for change and improvement in national health care policy.

"You have brought diagnostic acuity and caring from the practice of medicine to university, health care and public administration. Your career has been marked by a commitment to effectiveness and efficiency that places the patient above all, while also strengthening health systems in New Haven and Boston and health policy for the nation. With gratitude for your decade of service as chair of our own Department of Internal Medicine, and admiration for your achievements elsewhere, we are honored to award you the degree of: Doctor of Medical Sciences."

Desmond M. Tutu
Anglican Archbishop Emeritus

Doctor of Divinity

Desmond M. Tutu has played a pivotal role in bringing racial justice to his homeland of South Africa. Tutu was a high school teacher before turning to theology. He went to England to study and work until his concern about growing unrest in South Africa brought him back home. There, he became dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, and later bishop of Lesotho, an independent southern African country. As general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Tutu became an internationally known advocate for the peaceful overthrow of apartheid, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He subsequently became bishop of Johannesburg and archbishop of Cape Town. After apartheid ended, Tutu was tapped by President Nelson Mandela to chair South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the body charged with promoting national healing. Although he retired from ecclesiastical office in 1996, Tutu continues to teach, preach and write. He is currently the William R. Cannon Visiting Professor of Theology at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta.

"Trained first as a teacher, you have spent your whole life teaching the ways of justice. Conciliatory when possible, defiant when necessary, you used sanctions, marches, politics and prayer to call the world's attention to the evils of apartheid. As chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you led your nation in an unprecedented search for healing, through a process of remembering and judging and forgiving. Working for the good of all, you have refused to grow weary in doing what is right. Your witness for peace inspires us, and we are honored to bestow this degree of: Doctor of Divinity."

Helen Vendler
Professor and Literary Critic

Doctor of Letters

Helen Vendler is one of the country's foremost literary critics, particularly in the field of poetry. Her close reading of poetry has yielded works of literary criticism that are considered almost as memorable as the poetry itself. Currently the Porter University Professor at Harvard, Vendler was poetry critic for The New Yorker for 18 years. She has written numerous works of literary criticism and history for prominent literary publications. Her many books include "Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets," "The Music of What Happens: Poems, Poets, Critics" and "The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets," as well as studies of poets W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens and John Keats, among others. She won the National Book Critics Circle and the Truman Capote awards for literary criticism and the Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society.

"Poetry is your passion; interpretation is your art. Through four decades, you have been one of poetry's 'necessary angels,' demonstrating in your close reading of poems from Herbert to Heaney the joy and illumination that poetry offers. You are a gifted and influential critic, a mentor and friend to poets famous and unknown, and an inexhaustible teacher of all things poetic, and Yale takes delight in honoring you with the degree of: Doctor of Letters."

C O M M E N C E M E N T2 0 0 0


Baccalaureate Address

Honorary Degrees

Senior Class Day

Teaching Prizes

Scholastic Prizes

Roosevelt L. Thompson Prize

Athletic Awards

David Everett Chantler Prize

Other Student Awards and Honors

Wilbur Cross Medals


Yale celebrates 299th Commencement

Fellowship winners to pursue summer study across the globe

Yale helps the new 'Amistad' set sail on its educational mission

Festival Time: Celebrations of art, music and culture at Yale, city sites

Environmental leaders to join school's faculty

Conservation leaders named McCluskey Fellows

Alumni return to campus to celebrate reunions

Researcher links unexplained car accidents and heart irregularities

Center's family celebration will mark Cancer Survivors Day

Family Festival to celebrate Yale Art Gallery exhibitions

Students will teach in China, Hong Kong

Movie theaters 'pitch in' to raise funds for Yale pediatric programs

Edmund Gordon is honored for his achievements

'Feminist humor maven' will speak at campaign school

Symposium will pay tribute to Dr. Marvin Sears

Fair will highlight continuing education

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