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May 8, 2002

Smith College Sets Commencement

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, in the Quadrangle, Smith College will hold its 124th commencement ceremony, honoring 752 graduating seniors, including 73 students in the Ada Comstock Scholars Program for women beyond the traditional age, and 65 students who will receive advanced degrees. (In case of rain, the event will take place in the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility.) Smith's commencement ceremony is open to the public at no charge; no tickets are required.

Civil rights activist and Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, who received an honorary degree from Smith in 1999, will be the commencement speaker.

In addition, six leaders and visionaries in their respective fields will be recognized with honorary doctoral degrees.

The honorary degree recipients are Anita F. Hill, professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University; Anne Martindell, Ada Comstock Scholar, member of the Smith Class of '02 and former United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa; Cynthia Moss '62, director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, Africa; Katha Pollitt, columnist and commentator on popular culture and politics; Sima Wali, a native of Afghanistan, champion of inclusion of women in the country's current cabinet and president and CEO of Refugee Women in Development, Inc.; and Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Lani Guinier, a renowned advocate for social justice and civil rights, is the author of "Lift Every Voice," her personal and political memoir. Guinier is the first African-American woman to receive a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. During the 1980s, Guinier was the head of the voting rights program at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, for which she litigated cases throughout the South. She later joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she co-authored a book on women and legal education. Guinier is a graduate of Radcliffe College and Yale University Law School.

Anita F. Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Heller Graduate School of Brandeis University. Hill's biographical work, "Speaking Truth to Power," published in 1997, chronicles her experience as a high-profile witness in the congressional confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a nominee to the court at the time. A graduate of Oklahoma State University and Yale Law School, Hill is the author of articles on international commercial law, bankruptcy and civil rights. She has given numerous presentations on race and gender equality, appearing on television programs such as "Face the Nation," "Meet the Press" and "Good Morning America." Hill has also served as adviser to the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was special counsel to the assistant secretary of the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Shirley Ann Jackson, a theoretical physicist, became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. Before assuming that role, she was appointed by President Clinton in 1995 to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Jackson has also served as a theoretical physicist at AT&T Bell Laboratories and professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University. Jackson is the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from M.I.T.-in any subject. She is one of the first two African-American women in the United States to receive a doctorate in physics and last year became the first African-American woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Jackson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Physical Society. In 2001, she received the Richtmyer Memorial Lecture Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Anne C. Martindell, in a long and varied career in politics, has served as a New Jersey state senator, the director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and, from 1979 to 1981, as United States ambassador to New Zealand and Western Samoa. While in the state senate, she chaired the Higher Education Committee and, in 1977, was appointed by President Carter to the Commission to Review Ambassadorial Appointments. At one time a member of Smith's class of 1936, Martindell interrupted her education to raise her four children; she re-enrolled at Smith in 1999 as an Ada Comstock Scholar. Martindell, 87, will be the first Smith graduate to simultaneously receive undergraduate and honorary degrees.

Cynthia Moss, a former journalist with Newsweek, is director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, Africa. She has spent more than three decades studying the ecology and social behavior of a population of approximately 1,000 African elephants in Amboseli National Park. Her work is the longest study of individually known elephants and one of the longest studies of individually known mammals in the world. She has increased scientific understanding of the elephant through her own research, while fostering public awareness through her writing,
speaking and documentaries. Moss has received grants for her research from the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation, the Merlin Foundation and the New York Zoological Society. In 2001 she was named a MacArthur Fellow. Moss' book "Portraits in the Wild: Behaviour Studies of East African Mammals" was nominated for the American Book Award for best science paperback in 1982.

Katha Pollitt, a columnist, is well known for her sharp and provocative analyses of popular culture and politics. She has contributed her writing to The Nation since 1980; her 1992 essay on the culture wars, "Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me" won the National Magazine Award for essays and criticism. She is also considered among the most promising American poets of recent decades, with work appearing in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Antaeus and other publications. For her poetry, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her 1982 book "Antarctic Traveler" won the National Book Critics Award. She has also won the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1984 and the Arvon Foundation Prize from Observer in 1986.



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