Distributed May 22, 2002
News Service Contact: Tracie Sweeney
The 234th Commencement
Brown will award eight honorary degrees at Commencement May 27
Brown University will present eight honorary degrees during Commencement on Monday, May 27. The recipients are John Birkelund, Raymond G. Chambers, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Paul LeClerc, Emily Arnold McCully, Jessye Norman, Sadako Ogata and William Warner.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University will present eight honorary degrees at its 234th Commencement Monday, May 27, 2002. The degrees will be conferred during the University Convocation, which begins at approximately 11:30 a.m. on The College Green.
The recipients are businessmen and philanthropists John Birkelund and Raymond G. Chambers, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the New York Public Library’s Paul LeClerc, author-illustrator Emily Arnold McCully, singer Jessye Norman, former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, and architect William Warner.
None of the recipients is a Commencement speaker. At Brown, that honor goes to two members of the graduating class. However, four honorary degree recipients will speak during Commencement Weekend, and their addresses will be open to the public:
Editors: For detailed biographical information and photographs of the candidates, please contact the News Service at (401) 863-2476.
John Birkelund, Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), is an international investment banker and philanthropist who has served Brown steadfastly for 18 years, first as a trustee, then as a fellow of the Corporation. He currently chairs the Board of Overseers of the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown. (See text of citation.)
In 1990 Birkelund was asked by then-President George Bush to organize and lead the Polish-American Enterprise Fund, an aid program designed to stimulate the newly privatized Polish economy through loans and investments in small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Birkelund began his business career in 1956 as an associate of Booz, Allen and Hamilton Inc., followed by 10 years as vice president and investment manager of Amsterdam Overseas Corporation, a private, New York-based merchant bank. In 1967 he became a founding shareholder and chief executive officer of New Court Securities, a venture capital and investment bank. In 1981, Birkelund joined Dillon Read and Co. Inc. as president and chief operating officer, becoming co-chief executive officer in 1986. He was named chair and chief executive in 1988. Birkelund assumed his current position as a senior adviser to UBS Warburg LLC when the firm merged with Swiss Bank Warburg in 1997.
Businessman and philanthropist Raymond G. Chambers, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), chairs the New Jersey-based Amelior Foundation and is considered a leading figure in the renaissance of his native city, Newark. Through a broad philanthropic network, he has provided significant support for educational and economic-development initiatives there. (See text of citation.)
In 1981, Chambers and William Simon, the late U.S. treasury secretary, founded the investment firm Wesray Capitol. Chambers retired as its chair in 1990 to focus on philanthropy.
The Amelior Foundation, established by Chambers in 1987, provides educational, job-training, and employment opportunities for Newark residents. Amelior’s READY program provides college scholarships for 1,100 Newark youth. In addition, his MCJ Foundation has made grants to the Newark Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as hospitals, libraries, schools and other organizations. In 1988 Chambers championed the development of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, of which he is founding chair.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), is a pioneering legal crusader for women’s rights and equality. She was sworn in as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court Aug. 10, 1993. (See text of citation.)
Before her appointment to the Supreme Court, she served from 1980 to 1993 on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 1972 to 1980, she was a professor at Columbia University School of Law; from 1963 to 1972, she served on the law faculty of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She has taught in a number of other institutions as well.
Ginsburg was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1971. Throughout the 1970s she litigated a series of cases solidifying a constitutional principle against gender-based discrimination, presenting oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in several of these cases.
Since December of 1993, Paul LeClerc, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), has been president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library, overseeing its collection of 55 million items, its 85 neighborhood branches, and its four research libraries. (See text of citation.)
Before becoming president of the library, LeClerc was president of Hunter College. A scholar of Voltaire, he previously chaired Union College’s department of modern languages and its humanities division, was university dean for academic affairs and acting vice chancellor for academic affairs at the City University of New York, and was provost and vice president for academic affairs at CUNY’s Baruch College.
LeClerc, who serves on many boards, was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. LeClerc was recently elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a director of the American Academy of Rome.
A 1961 Brown graduate, Emily Arnold McCully, Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.), is the award-winning illustrator of more than 100 children’s books and the acclaimed author-illustrator of more than 30 books. Known for their humor, honesty and stalwart belief in human possibility, her books are characterized by their artistry and intuitive appeal to young audiences. (See text of citation.)
Early in her career, Arnold McCully illustrated Journey from Peppermint Street by Meindert DeJong, which won the 1969 National Book Award – the first time the honor was given to a children’s book. Her book Picnic, a picture story about a family of mice on an outing, received a Christopher Award in 1985.
The author’s most beloved character is Mirette, of Arnold McCully’s award-winning 1992 picture book, Mirette on the High Wire. Arnold McCully’s luminous watercolors of 19th-century Paris earned Mirette the Caldecott Medal, among the highest honors given for book illustration.
Jessye Norman, Doctor of Music (D.Mus.), has been described as “one of those once-in-a-generation singers who is not simply following in the footsteps of others, but is staking out her own niche in the history of singing.” The power and luster of her voice are acclaimed worldwide, as are her thoughtful music-making, innovative programming of the classics, and advocacy of contemporary music. (See text of citation.)
In the 19 years since her Metropolitan Opera debut, Norman has performed around the world. Her operatic repertoire includes the works of Berlioz, Meyerbeer, Stravinsky, Poulenc, Schoenberg, Janacek, Bartok, Rameau, Wagner and Richard Strauss.
Norman, who has won numerous awards for her artistry, is a recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal for humanitarian and civic contributions. She is a national spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation and the Partnership for the Homeless, and a board member of many other organizations.
As the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) from 1991 through 2000, Sadako Ogata, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.), carried out her core mandate to protect the basic human rights of the vulnerable. Her efforts led to a doubling of the UNHCR’s budget and staff; the agency now operates in 120 countries with a staff of more than 5,000 workers. (See text of citation.)
She was recently appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a fact-finding team dispatched to Israel to investigate the battle in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin.
Ogata previously was dean of the faculty of foreign studies at Sophia University, Tokyo, and a professor and director of Sophia’s Institute of International Relations. Currently Ogata is the Japanese prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan assistance, co-chair of the international Commission on Human Security, and a scholar-in-residence at the Ford Foundation in New York.
Architect William D. Warner, Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.), is responsible for the design that reinvented Providence’s downtown waterfront. (See text of citation.)
A Warner-directed 1984 study formed the basis for the waterfront renaissance, including the 1987 project that relocated the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket rivers to create a new downtown confluence with the Providence River. The architect’s Waterplace Park forms the geographic center of the city’s renaissance. Completed in 1996, the rivers project earned Warner Architects and Planners a 1997 National Endowment for the Arts Presidential Federal Design Achievement Award.
Since its founding in 1959, Warner’s firm has completed more than 300 commissions. In Rhode Island, these include the Fleet Skating Center, Rhode Island College’s performing arts center, the University of Rhode Island’s coastal institute, and the restoration of the Westerly railroad station. This spring Warner was commissioned to develop plans to upgrade Providence’s India Point Park in conjunction with the relocation of Route 195.