Campus News

2009 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced

Story posted February 18, 2009

Bowdoin will award five honorary degrees at its 204th Commencement exercises, Saturday, May 23, 2009.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Walker Art Building.

Honorary degrees will go to esteemed playwright Edward Albee, renowned artist and member of the Class of 1974 Stephen W. Hannock, international leader in breast cancer research Olufunmilayo Olopade, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth, and environmental activist and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

Biographical information on each honorand follows:

For the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters

Edward Albee

Edward Albee established himself as one of America's premier playwrights more than a half-century ago. Over the course of his extraordinary career he received three Pulitzer Prizes for drama — for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994). Other honors include a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005, the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1980), Kennedy Center Honors (1996), and the National Medal of Arts (1996). In 1958 he wrote his first play, The Zoo Story, which had its premiere in Berlin, Germany. Other plays include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The American Dream and The Play About the Baby. He is a former Distinguished Professor of Theatre in the School of Theatre at the University of Houston, where the Edward Albee New Playwrights Workshop was named for him. He established the Edward F. Albee Foundation in 1967, which maintains the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center on Montauk, Long Island. In fall 2008, Albee spoke at Bowdoin's Common Hour.

For the Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts

Stephen W. Hannock '74

Renowned neo-Luminist landscape artist Stephen W. Hannock attended Bowdoin and Smith College, and graduated from Hampshire College in 1975. While at Smith he studied with Leonard Baskin. From his early work, Hannock demonstrated a keen appreciation for the quality of light and for the limitations of conventional materials and techniques for capturing it. His experiments with machine-polishing the surfaces of his paintings give a trademark luminous quality to his large landscapes. His design of visual effects for the 1998 film What Dreams May Come won an Academy Award. He recently created a work for the Bowdoin College Museum of Art — Oxbow for Bowdoin College; Flooded River for Leonard Baskin and David P. Becker (Mass MoCA #84) — which was the centerpiece of the only solo exhibition at the rededication of the renovated Museum. His works are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, as well as in a number of prominent private collections.

For the Degree of Doctor of Science

Olufunmilayo Olopade

Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade, an international leader in breast cancer research, is a professor of medicine and human genetics and the director of the Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago Hospitals. Olopade grew up in Nigeria, earned her M.D. at the University of Ibadan, and served as a medical officer at the Nigerian Navy Hospital in Lagos. She completed her internship and residency at Chicago's Cook County Hospital and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago. A highly skilled hematology oncologist and expert on cancer risk assessment, she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for translating findings on the molecular genetics of breast cancer in African and African-American women into innovative clinical practices in the United States and abroad. Olopade has received numerous awards, including the 1991 American Society for Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award, the 2003 Phenomenal Woman Award for her work in the African-American community, and the Heroes in Healthcare Award from the Access Community Network in 2005.

For the Degree of Doctor of Laws

Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993. Born in Elmhurst, Illinois, he graduated from Brown University and earned a J.D. degree at Yale University. He became the deputy director of Human Rights Watch in 1987. Human Rights Watch shines a bright light on the abuses that occur in corners of the world that receive little media attention and takes on human rights issues that are in the center of the hot spotlight of international debate. Roth╒s commitment to human rights issues grew from his father's experiences fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938, and his own reactions to the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981 and top military repression in Haiti. Under Roth's leadership Human Rights Watch expanded the scope of its investigations to seventy countries, quadrupled the number of staff engaged in human rights work, and added special programs to address issues of refugees, human rights emergencies, children's rights, gay and lesbian rights, AIDS, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the responsibilities of multinational corporations to uphold human rights.

For the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Environmental activist and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier has been a powerful voice in the growing discussion of global climate change, human rights, and political and economic policies within the international arena. A Canadian Inuit, Watt-Cloutier was born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Northern Quebec, in 1953. Raised in a traditional Inuit community, she attended school in Nova Scotia and Manitoba before enrolling at McGill University. She worked at Ungava Hospital as an Inuktitut translator and was an advocate for improving the health and education systems that served Inuit communities. She served as corporate secretary of Makivik Corporation, the Canadian Inuit land-claim organization established for Nunavik, and president (Canada) and later international chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). She represented the interests of 155,000 Inuit in Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland at the Stockholm Convention that banned the manufacture and use of persistent organic pollutants that enter the Arctic food chain. In 2005 Watt-Cloutier and others filed a landmark petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions violated Inuit cultural and environmental rights.

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