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President Christ Honored by Alma Mater

President Carol T. Christ was one of four alumni of Yale University Graduate School to be presented with the school’s highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, on October 9. The medal is presented each year by the school’s Alumni Association to a small number of outstanding alumni in recognition of their distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration and public service.

Christ, who earned her doctoral degree in academic administration and English literature from the graduate school in 1970, was honored in a series of events throughout the day. She gave an afternoon talk on “Mapping a Career in the Academy” and received the medal during an evening ceremony.

Christ became president of Smith in 2002 following more than 30 years on the faculty of the University of California-Berkeley, which culminated in her post as executive vice chancellor, the school’s highest academic position. She is the author of two books on 19th-century and modernist poetry, The Finer Optic: The Aesthetic of Particularity in Victorian Poetry and Victorian and Modern Poetics.

Christ was joined in receiving the Wilbur Cross Medal by Paul Friedrich, University of Chicago professor emeritus of anthropology, linguistics and Slavic languages and literatures; Anne Walters Robertson, the University of Chicago Claire Dux Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Music; and John Suppe, the Princeton University Blair Professor of Geology.

Wilbur Cross, in whose memory the honor is bestowed, was a distinguished scholar in English literature, who excelled in the areas recognized by the medal. He taught at the Sheffield Scientific School, the precursor to Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and served as dean during the graduate school’s reorganization.

First presented in 1996, the medal was annually awarded as part of the school’s commencement activities until last year. The graduate school and alumnae association presented the award this year in October to allow the recipients to interact with students and faculty as part of the presentation.

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