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Distributed May 17, 2006
Contact Deborah Goldstein

The 238th Commencement

Annual Commencement Forum Will Honor Sen. Claiborne Pell

Brown University has established an annual Commencement Forum to honor Sen. Claiborne Pell’s 36 years of distinguished service to the United States Senate. The inaugural Pell Forum, on Saturday, May 27, 2006, will be a panel discussion covering areas of particular interest to the Senator during his political career – higher education, the arts, and foreign relations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University has established an annual Commencement Forum honoring Sen. Claiborne Pell, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Rhode Island history. The inaugural Pell Forum will be held Saturday, May 27, 2006, at 10:30 a.m. in List Art Center, Room 120. It is open to the public.

For the inaugural event, a three-member panel will reflect on Pell’s major achievements in higher education, the arts, and foreign relations. Michael Bartini, director of financial aid, will discuss federal support for higher education; Michael Steinberg, director of the Cogut Humanities Center, will speak about public support for the arts and humanities; and Wendy Schiller, professor of political science, will discuss the Senator’s interest in foreign relations. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who succeeded Pell, will introduce the forum with personal remarks.

Pell will also be honored during Brown University’s Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 28, 2006, when he is presented with the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal. The award is the highest honor the Brown faculty can bestow.


Senator Claiborne Pell

A Democrat from Newport, R.I., Pell served in the U.S. Senate from 1961-1997. He was chairman of the Committee for Foreign Relations; chairman of the Subcommittee on Education, Arts and Humanities; member of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources; chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administrations; member of the Democratic Policy Committee; and served on the Executive Committee of the Environmental and Energy Study conference.

During his political career, Pell took a leading role in eliminating financial barriers to higher education. He authored legislation that created the Basic Educational Opportunity Grants, which Congress named Pell Grants in 1980. He was also the principal sponsor of a 1965 law establishing the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Pell as a delegate to the initial meeting of the International Maritime Consultative Organization in 1959 and as a delegate to the 25th United Nations General Assembly in 1970. Pell served often as a Senate advisor to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. He also was the first Senate advisor appointed to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and served as a member of the Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations. Pell was appointed by President William J. Clinton as a representative of the United States to the 51st session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1996.

The Senator has received 20 decorations, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest non-military award of the United States, and was awarded medals by both the Kingdom and the Republic of Italy, four by Portugal, two by the Netherlands, and by France, Sweden, Greece, Liechtenstein, Austria, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Knights of Malta and by Cardinal Koenig of Austria. Fifty-one colleges and universities have also awarded him honorary doctorates.

The Senator is an honorary trustee of St. George’s School and trustee emeritus of Brown University. He has been a member of the Board of Visitors of both the United States Naval Academy and the United States Coast Guard. He is director of the Society of Friends of Touro Synagogue of Newport and attends Trinity Episcopal Church in Newport. Pell is also a trustee of Save the Bay. He has written two books, Power and Policy: America's Role in World Affairs (1972) and Megalopolis Unbound (1966), and co-authored a third, Challenge of the Seven Seas (1966).

Pell earned his A.B degree, summa cum laude, in history from Princeton University and his M.A. degree from Columbia University. He was awarded an honorary degree by Brown (Doctor of Laws – LL.D.) in 1972. The University also awarded Nuala Pell, the senator’s wife, the President’s Medal, the highest honor a Brown President may bestow, in 1977.


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