Commencement honoraries

Along with the latest crop of graduating Penn seniors, this year’s 247th Commencement will honor some of the world’s most noted scholars. Commencement speaker and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu will receive an honorary degree along with five other recipients.

Stephen Breyer has been an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court since 1994. A graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard, Breyer served as assistant Watergate special prosecutor in 1973, and was chief judge of the First Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals from 1990 to 1994. Breyer has also taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Herbert J. Gans, the first graduate of Penn’s doctoral program in City Planning, received his Ph.D. in planning and sociology from Penn in 1957. Gans’ research and commentary on urban sociology and planning has served as a national standard for more than 50 years. Gans is currently the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University.

Sadako Ogata, who is currently serving as Japan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Assistance, has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to humanitarian causes. She served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1990 to 2000, providing humanitarian relief to more than 1.75 million Kurds following the 1991 Gulf War, as well as refugees in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Ogata is a graduate of the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Georgetown, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Mamphela Ramphele, whose work as a political activist and a founder of South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa, is a noted anthropologist, physician, and university administrator. Ramphele is currently a managing director at the World Bank.

Philip Roth is a writer whose works have earned him the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award twice, the National Medal of Arts, the Gold Medal in fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union, and the Pulitzer Prize. Roth’s prolific career as a novelist, short story writer, and essayist began in the 1950s, and is still going strong, with six major works in the past 10 years. He taught in Penn’s English Department intermittently from 1965-1977.

Notable books

Benjamin Nathans, the M Mark and Esther K. Watkins Assistant Professor in the Humanities and acting associate director of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, has been given the top prize in the history category of the fifth annual Koret Jewish Book Awards for his work “Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia.” Nathans’ book is about the lives of Russian-speaking Jews who lived outside the so-called “pale of settlement” designated for Jews. Since 1979, the Koret Foundation has awarded over $200 million in grants in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Israel.

Martin E. P. Seligman, professor of psychology at Penn, has had his book “Authentic Happiness” named “Best Psychology Book” of 2002 by Books for a Better Life. The Books for a Better Life awards, presented by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, honor “self-help” and “motivational” books. Seligman, who is the founder of the positive psychology movement, argues that people can live a good life by focusing on their “signature strengths” rather than dwelling on their weaknesses.

Brian Sutton-Smith, professor emeritus in the Graduate School of Education, has received a Fulbright Senior Specialists grant to lecture and consult for two weeks at the Australian Centre of the University of Melbourne and also at the Museum Victoria. Sutton-Smith is a child-development expert whose research interests include the study of play, psychology, education, and folklore.

Jerome Strauss III, the Luigi Mastoianni Jr. Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn’s Medical School, has been named President of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI). The SGI is a nonprofit international organization whose aim is to promote excellence in the fields of obstetrics, gynecology, reproductive medicine, and gynecologic oncology.

The Institute of Contemporary Art has been awarded a two-year, $297,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. The grant will pay for five new installations for the ICA’s Ramp Project, which showcases art on the ramp that connects the first- and second-floor galleries. The ramp currently features “Kimowan McLain: Without Ground,” which addresses questions of Native North American identity.

Originally published on April 17, 2003