May 6, 2003
Smith College Sets Commencement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Editor's note: Reporters and
photographers interested in covering Smith's commencement should
request press passes by calling (413)585-2190 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
by Friday, May 16. Seats
for media representatives will be available in the press box
adjacent to the stage. Photos of Albright and the other honorary
degree recipients are available upon request.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- At 1:30 p.m.
on Sunday, May 18, in the Quadrangle, Smith College will hold
its 125th commencement ceremony, honoring 725 graduating seniors,
including 62 students in the Ada Comstock Scholars Program for
women beyond the traditional age, as well as 55 advanced degree
Smith's commencement ceremony is open to the public at no charge;
no tickets are required. (In case of rain, the event will take
place in the Indoor Track and Tennis Facility.)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be the
commencement speaker and will be given an honorary doctor of
In addition, three other leaders and visionaries in their respective
fields will be recognized with honorary doctoral degrees; they
are landscape architect and Smith College alumna Cornelia Hahn
Oberlander; playwright, actress and professor Anna Deavere Smith;
and author, storyteller, songwriter and Smith College alumna
One of the most visible and
influential women to serve in government, Albright was the first
woman to serve as Secretary of State and has attained the highest
political rank yet achieved by a woman in the United States.
She served as the United States Permanent Representative to the
United Nations from 1993 to 1997 and as a member of President
Clinton's Cabinet and National Security Council. In 1995, she
led the U.S. delegation to the UN's fourth world conference on
women in Beijing.
Born in Prague, Albright
immigrated to America with her family in 1948. She earned degrees
from Wellesley College and Columbia University. Currently she
consults on global issues; chairs several international affairs
organizations, including the Truman Scholarship Foundation; and
holds faculty appointments at Georgetown University School of
Foreign Service and the University of Michigan Business School.
Recently, she was nominated to the board of the New York Stock
Widely considered one of
North America's most accomplished and well-known female landscape
architects, Oberlander is a pioneer of socially conscious and
sustainable landscape designs. During the past 50 years she has
collaborated with internationally acclaimed architects on a wide
range of public projects in the United States and Canada, including
the Canadian Chancery in Washington, D.C., (Arthur Erickson,
architect) and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, (Moshe
After graduating from Smith
College in 1944, Oberlander continued her studies at Harvard
Graduate School of Design, in the first of its classes to accept
women. In 1953 she moved with her husband, Peter Oberlander,
to Canada. During the 1960s, Oberlander concentrated on low-rent
housing and playgrounds, such as the Children's Creative Centre
at Expo '67 in Montréal. Her projects honor the ideal
of sustainable development by respecting concern for surrounding
land, water and air resources and creating spaces for the enjoyment
of nature in the city. Her most important project is in downtown
Vancouver, comprising Robson Square and the Provincial Government
Courthouse Complex, creating an urban oasis on an accessible
roof of the building, completed in 1980 (Arthur Erickson, architect).
Oberlander, who was honored
with a Smith College Medal in 1982, had a major role in the creation
of the 1996 Smith College Master Plan for the campus's long-term
beautification and development.
Smith College will award
Oberlander an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
Acclaimed by critics and
audiences nationwide, Smith's work probes controversial social
events through her uncannily faithful renderings of excerpts
from interviews she has conducted with participants in the events.Over
the past two decades Smith has written and performed a body of
theatrical works collectively titled "On the Road: A Search
for American Character." Among those, "Fires in the
Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Other Identities,"
exploring the 1991 clash between Jews and blacks in that community,
was the runner-up for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, earned Smith an
Obie and other awards, and was broadcast on PBS. Her most recent
play, "House Arrest," explores the role of the presidency
throughout American history.
On film, Smith has appeared
in Ivan Reitman's "Dave," Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia"
and Rob Reiner's "The American President." On television
she plays the National Security Adviser on "The West Wing"
and has a recurring role in "The Practice."
Smith founded and has directed
the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard University,
is a tenured professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New
York University, and teaches the art of listening at the NYU
School of Law. Her books include "Talk to Me: Listening
Between the Lines" (2000).
Smith College will award
Smith an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.
Called "the Hans Christian
Andersen of America" by Newsweek and "the modern equivalent
of Aesop" by The New York Times, Yolen has written more
than 250 books for children (in collaboration with a long list
of notable illustrators), young adults and adults. Both gifted
and versatile, she is perhaps best known as a fantasist but has
an easy command of many genres. Her works range from board books
for the very young to poetry for adults, as well as novels, nonfiction,
musings on writing and even a cookbook. She is also a teacher
of writing and literature, a reviewer of children's literature,
a songwriter and a professional storyteller.
Yolen was born in New York
City and earned a bachelor of arts from Smith College in 1960
and a master of education from the University of Massachusetts
Amherst in 1976. Her books and stories have won numerous awards
including the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy
Award, a Golden Kite Award, a Jewish Book Award and many state
children's book awards and five bodies-of-work awards. She is
a former president of the Science Fiction Writers of America
and for more than 25 years served on the board of directors of
the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She
lectures frequently at colleges and conferences in the United
States and Britain.
Smith College will award
Yolen an honorary doctor of letters degree.