May 8, 2002
Smith College Sets Commencement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
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
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.