Former President George H.W. Bush Among Nine Dartmouth Honorary Degree Recipients

Former President George H.W. Bush (photo courtesy of President Bush)

Former President George H.W. Bush and eight others will receive honorary degrees at Dartmouth’s 2011 Commencement exercises on June 12.

Bush, who was sworn into office in 1989 and was the first sitting vice president to ascend to the presidency since 1837, will join late-night comedian Conan O’Brien, who will deliver the main Commencement address at the ceremony on the Green. O’Brien will also receive an honorary degree.

The other honorary degree recipients are (see biographical information below): Dartmouth alumnus, philanthropist, and retired executive Russell A. Boss ’61; New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast; Native American leader and activist Elouise Cobell; actress Ruby Dee; alumnus and brain scientist Michael S. Gazzaniga ’61; physician and researcher Howard Hiatt; and Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City public school system.

Dartmouth typically awards approximately 1,000 bachelor’s degrees and approximately 600 master’s and doctoral degrees in the arts and sciences and from the College’s three professional schools: Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business.

The academic procession to the Green begins at 9:30 a.m., and visitors are advised to be in their seats by that time. Commencement ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.

Further information is available on the Commencement website.

Biographical information for honorary degree recipients

For full biographies, click on recipient’s name.

Russell A. Boss

Russell A. Boss ’61, Tuck ’62 (Doctor of Humane Letters)

Dartmouth alumnus, philanthropist and retired executive

Russell A. “Ron” Boss has been an active volunteer and supporter of Dartmouth College for decades. Retired as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of A.T. Cross Co., in Lincoln, R.I., he has served on a number of boards of corporations, schools, and charitable organizations and has enthusiastically worked to advance the mission of his alma mater. A champion yachtsman, he has also been a strong supporter of College athletics, most notably tennis.

George H.W. Bush

The Honorable George H.W. Bush (Doctor of Laws)

The 41st President of the United States

The first sitting vice president to ascend to the presidency since 1837, President Bush was also only the second American president to serve a full term without party control in either chamber of Congress. During his term in office, he saw the end of the Cold War and the Soviet Union and put together an unprecedented coalition of 32 nations to liberate Kuwait after it was invaded by Iraq. Since leaving office, he has helped raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity and with President Clinton has headed disaster relief efforts in Southeast Asia and the U.S. Gulf Coast states. Earlier this year, President Obama awarded President Bush the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Roz Chast

Roz Chast (Doctor of Arts)

Staff cartoonist at The New Yorker magazine

A New Yorker cartoonist since 1978, Roz Chast has contributed more than 1,000 cartoons and several covers to the magazine. In addition, she has provided cartoons and editorial illustrations for almost 50 other magazines and journals, from Mother Jones to Town & Country. In her cartoons, she humorously addresses a range of everyday anxieties: guilt, aging, families, friends, money, and real estate among others. She has illustrated several children’s books and last year wrote and illustrated Too Busy Marco. Chast was a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth in 2008.

Elouise Cobell

Elouise Cobell (Doctor of Humane Letters)

Native American leader and activist

A great granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Indian leaders of the West, Elouise Cobell is executive director of the Native American Community Development Corp., a nonprofit affiliate of Native American Bank. She has earned admiration for her work to reform the U.S. government’s management of Individual Indian Trust Assets. A member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana, Cobell has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” and recognition for bringing to light government dishonesty regarding the Indian Trust.

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee (Doctor of Arts)

Actress

Stage, screen, and television actress Ruby Dee began her career at the American Negro Theatre in Harlem. Recent roles include American Gangster and Steam. Herfavorite roles are Lutiebelle in Purlie Victorious (written by her late husband, Ossie Davis); Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun; and Lena in Boesman and Lena, for which she received an Obie and a Drama Desk award. She won an Emmy for her performance in Decoration Day in 1991, was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and, with Davis, was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame. She received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and received John F. Kennedy Center Honors with Davis in 2004.

Michael S. Gazzaniga

Michael S. Gazzaniga ’61 (Doctor of Science)

Cognitive neuroscience scholar and Dartmouth alumnus

Michael S. Gazzaniga is a scholar and teacher in the field of cognitive neuroscience. A former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth College, he is currently professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of its Sage Center for the Study of the Mind. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences this year, one of the highest honors accorded U.S. scientists and engineers. Gazzaniga’s work includes research on how the brain enables the mind. He has written numerous books, including a 1995 landmark publication, The Cognitive Neurosciences, which is recognized as the sourcebook for the field.

Howard Hiatt

Howard Hiatt, MD (Doctor of Science)

Physician and researcher

With a career spanning more than five decades, Dr. Howard Hiatt has been widely recognized for improving health care services through care, teaching, research, and advocacy. He is a former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health and also directly delivered care to thousands of patients as an oncologist, physician, and chief of medicine at Beth Israel Hospital. He has mentored and trained thousands of medical students and physicians. He led the application of decision analysis and clinical effectiveness programs that have greatly improved patient safety and quality of care. In addition, he has been a strong advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations in the United States and worldwide, and co-founded the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Hiatt was on the team at Pasteur Institute in Paris that identified messenger RNA, and he helped bring the application of molecular and cell biology to medical problems at Harvard-affiliated hospitals. He also worked with founders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Joel I. Klein

Joel I. Klein (Doctor of Humane Letters)

Executive vice president, News Corp., and former chancellor of New York City public schools

Joel I. Klein is chief executive officer of the Educational Division and executive vice president, Office of the Chairman, at News Corp. Prior to that, he was chancellor of the New York City Department of Education where he oversaw a $22 billion system that educated more than 1.1 million students. While chancellor, he launched Children First,a reform that brought coherence and capacity to the system and resulted in significant increases in student performance. A former chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann Inc., a media company, Klein also served in the Clinton administration, as deputy White House counsel.

Conan O’Brien (Doctor of Arts)

Comedian and television talk show host

Conan O’Brien got his start in comedy while a Harvard undergraduate at the Harvard Lampoon. After his 1985 graduation, he headed for Los Angeles and a career in television, where he has worked as a writer, producer, and performer for more than 25 years. O’Brien won an Emmy Award in 1989 for his writing on Saturday Night Live. He worked for almost 16 years as host of Late Night on NBC, winning an Emmy with the Late Night writing team in 2007, after 10 years of nominations. He went on to host The Tonight Show and currently stars in his own late-night comedy show, Conan, which premiered in November on the TBS network.

Also see the video announcement of O'Brien as Commencement speaker, featuring Student Body President Eric Tanner ’11.

Dartmouth College Press Release

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