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COMMENCEMENT 2003: Sketches of the Honorary Degree Recipients

Stephen Breyer | Herbert J. Gans | Sadako Ogata |
Mamphela Ramphele | Philip Roth | Desmond Tutu

Stephen Breyer

Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. is admired for his dedication to Constitutional law, brilliance about governmental regulation in a free market society, and passion for teaching America‰s future lawyers.

Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994, Justice Breyer began his academic and legal career when he graduated from Stanford University in 1959 followed by his graduation in 1961 as a Marshall Scholar from Oxford University. In 1964 he graduated magna cum laude and received his L.L.B. from Harvard Law School, where he was articles editor for the Harvard Law Review.

Following law school, he served as law clerk to Associate Justice Arthur J. Goldberg during the U.S. Supreme Court‰s 1964 term. From 1965 to 1967, he was Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General in the US Department of Justice‰s Antitrust Division in Washington, DC.

He left the Justice Department and returned to Harvard, where he taught law, and also at Harvard‰s Kennedy School of Government from 1967 to 1980. During this time, he served the federal government as Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor in 1973, Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Administrative Practices, 1974-1975, and the Judiciary Committee‰s Chief Counsel, 1979-1980.

In 1980 President Carter nominated Justice Breyer to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Congress confirmed his nomination as Judge of the US Court of Appeals and he became the Circuit‰s Chief Judge in 1990. He was also appointed to serve on the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1985. During his tenure on the Court of Appeals, Justice Breyer taught at Harvard Law School and delivered the Oliver Wendell Holmes lectures in 1992 that became the foundation for his book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Towards Effective Risk and Regulation.

President Clinton nominated Justice Breyer as an associate justice to the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment in 1994.

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Herbert J. Gans

Herbert J. Gans‰ decisive commentary on urban sociology and planning has served as a national standard for more than 50 years while American society tried to address the consequences of poverty, social stratification, and race in its cities and towns.

Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1938 for England and arriving in the US in 1940, he earned his undergraduate and master‰s degree from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in planning and sociology from Penn in 1957. He was the first graduate of Penn‰s Ph.D. program in City Planning.

Between 1950 and 1953, he worked at several public and private agencies, including the federal agency that preceded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. His social research for an architectural firm supported plans for developing two new towns.

From 1953 until 1971 he was affiliated with Penn‰s Institute of Urban Studies, the Center for Urban Education, and the MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies. He also taught sociology and urban planning at Penn, Teachers College of Columbia University and MIT. In 1971, he joined Columbia‰s faculty, and in 1985 he was appointed the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology.

He has consulted for the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and HUD, and the National Commission on Civil Disorders.

He is the author of a dozen books, including The Urban Villagers in 1962, and The Levittowners in 1967. He has also published over 170 articles and book chapters.

Dr. Gans‰ honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Lifetime Contributions to Research in Community and Urban Sociology, and the Freedom Forum Media Study Center‰s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Media Studies. He has served as president of the Eastern Sociological Society and of the American Sociological Association.

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Sadako Ogata

Sadako Ogata has demonstrated a lifetime of humanitarian compassion, visionary leadership, and distinguished diplomacy.

Currently Scholar-in-Residence with the Ford Foundation, and Co-chair of the Commission on Human Security, Dr. Ogata has since November 2001 served as Japan‰s Special Representative for Afghanistan Assistance. Her leadership of Japan‰s role in a ten-year reconstruction period of Afghanistan has raised more than $4.5 billion in pledges from major countries, including $500 million from her native Japan.

In December 1990, the UN General Assembly elected Dr. Ogata as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She served in this post until the end of 2000. Within days of assuming office, Dr. Ogata and her agency provided humanitarian relief to more than 1.75 million Kurds immediately following the 1991 Gulf War. In the mid 1990s she directed humanitarian activities for refugees in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Great Lakes region in Africa and many other parts of the world.

From 1982 to 1985 Dr. Ogata served as Representative of Japan on the UN Commission on Human Rights. Dr. Ogata was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN, 1976-1979. From 1978 to 1979 she was Chairman of the Executive Board of UNICEF.

Dr. Ogata was Dean of the Faculty for Foreign Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo from 1989, its Director of the Institute of International Relations 1987 to 1988, and a professor since 1980.

She received her BA from the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo,1951, an MA from Georgetown University, 1953 and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley,1963.

Dr. Ogata is the author of numerous books and articles on diplomatic history and international relations. Her awards and honors include the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Seoul Peace Prize, the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, and the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

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Mamphela Ramphele

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, played a key role in the historic struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, and has advanced the cause of human rights and equal opportunity with tireless determination.

A noted anthropologist, physician and university administrator, she is a Managing Director at the World Bank, and the first African and the second woman to hold this position. Her appointment to the World Bank‰s senior leadership team in May 2000, where she manages the organization‰s global activities in areas including education, health, nutrition, population, social protection and information technology, continued her longtime record of dedicated work for human development.

As a political activist in the struggle against apartheid, she was banished by the Nationalist government for seven years to an impoverished resettlement area for blacks, where she helped rural poor by opening a day-care center and starting an adult literacy program. In her role as a founder of South Africa‰s anti-apartheid Black Consciousness Movement, Dr. Ramphele was a strong advocate of community empowerment and community health. She went on to earn a medical degree from the University of Natal in 1972. Her devotion to education ultimately led to her appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town in 1996, making her the first black woman to hold this position at a South African university.

Dr. Ramphele holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, a B.Com. in Administration from the University of South Africa, and diplomas in Tropical Health and Hygiene and Public Health from the University of Witwatersrand. She has received numerous prestigious national and international awards, including 19 honorary doctorates and the Medal of Distinction from Barnard College.

She is the author, co-author and editor of several books including an autobiography, A Bed Called Home, Restoring the Land, Uprooting Poverty: The South African Challenge, which received the 1990 Noma Award and most recently Steering by The Stars.

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Philip Roth

Philip Roth is a writer of stunning originality. In the last ten years alone he published six major works: Operation Shylock (1993); Sabbath‰s Theater (1995); American Pastoral (1997); I Married a Communist (1998); The Human Stain (2000) and The Dying Animal (2001). His books have earned him the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award twice; the National Book Award twice; the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union, and the Pulitzer Prize. He received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and the Gold Medal in fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Born in 1933 in Newark, NJ, Philip Roth has lived and worked in Litchfield County, CT since 1971. He holds a BA degree from Bucknell University and an MA in English from the University of Chicago. Mr. Roth has taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, Princeton, Penn, and Hunter College where he was named a Distinguished Professor of Literature.

In addition to his career as a novelist, Mr. Roth has written satire, short stories, memoirs, autobiographics, critical essays, interviews and served as a general editor for the series, "Writers from the Other Europe." Mr. Roth‰s unusually prolific career began with a decade‰s worth of work that included Goodbye Columbus (1959) and Portnoy‰s Complaint (1969). In the years that followed, he created Nathan Zuckerman, Mickey Sabbath, Swede Levov, and Coleman Silk, characters who already live beyond the books that gave them life.

Philip Roth‰s literary reputation is secure, yet he continues to write vividly about the inescapable predicaments of existence while capturing all the human strangeness of life as it is lived. No other contemporary author has so brilliantly depicted, in such compelling detail, the tragic entanglements of history and place in the lives of ordinary Americans. Mr. Roth is an American writer of international importance.

See a sketch of Desmond Tutu at


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 26, March 25, 2003