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February 5, 2008

Smith College to Honor Sudan Analyst, Faculty Member C. Eric Reeves

“Not a single person in the world has done as much for Darfur.”
                                        – Samantha Power, Harvard University

Video: Highlights of honorary degree ceremony

Video: Reeves on Sudan

SmitHistory: Other faculty honorary degree recipients

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College students may associate Professor C. Eric Reeves with his teachings about Shakespeare. But countless human rights workers, policy makers and journalists worldwide know him as the voice for the people of an African nation decimated by genocide.

In recognition of his tireless efforts during the past decade to end the human suffering in Sudan, Smith will award an honorary degree to Reeves, professor of English Language and Literature, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall.

“Not a single person in the world has done as much for Darfur as Eric Reeves,” Samantha Power, Harvard University genocide expert, once told USA Today.

International Criminal Court representative Rebecca Hamilton will offer a tribute to Reeves prior to the honorary degree ceremony. Smith President Carol T. Christ will then award him the degree, after which Reeves will moderate a panel discussion called “Perspectives on the Darfur Genocide.” (See panelists below.) The event is free and open to the public.

Since his passion for Sudan was ignited 10 years ago by a representative of Doctors Without Borders, Reeves has integrated advocacy with his academic work, taking unpaid leave for several semesters to do so.

“It’s been difficult to work so intensely in two very, very different worlds,” said Reeves, a 28-year member of the faculty. “The honorary degree has a special meaning for me. It is a kind of ratification of my work -- it’s Smith saying to me ‘we know where you’ve been.’”

A consultant to numerous human rights organizations operating in Sudan, Reeves has testified on several occasions before Congress and become a spokesperson on all aspects of Sudan’s recent history. His book, A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide, was published in May 2007.

In recent years, Reeves has simultaneously battled leukemia while using his leave from Smith to continue his humanitarian work from his home office; his compromised immune system prohibits his physical return to the country.

Said Reeves “Five years ago, I tried to resign from Darfur advocacy work but I simply can’t walk away...there is always more to be done. I’ll never leave Sudan.”

Panel: Perspectives on the Darfur Genocide

Omer Ismail, co-founder, Darfur Peace and Development Organziation. Ismail was born in the Darfur region of Sudan and fled the country in 1989 as a result of his political views. Read about Ismail.


Theodros Dagne, specialist in international relations, foreign affairs, defense and trade, Congressional Research Service. Dagne has also served as a professional staff member to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and to the assistant secretary of state. Read about Dagne.

Jennifer "Jeb" Sharp, journalist, Public Radio International program "The World." Sharp covers U.S. foreign policy and human rights issues and has reported for the program from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Read about Sharp.

Susannah Sirkin, deputy director, Physicians for Human Rights. Sirkin has organized health and human rights investigations to dozens of countries, including Sudan, Rwanda and Afghanistan. She served on the coordination committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace. Read about Sirkin.

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. By linking the power of the liberal arts to excellence in research and scholarship, Smith is developing leaders for society’s challenges. Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country, enrolling 2,800 students from nearly every state and 61 other countries.

For information about disability access or to request accommodations, please call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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