Campus & Community

Three honored with GSAS Centennial Medals

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A medical educator, a philosopher, and an historian received Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Centennial Medals at a ceremony on Wednesday, June 7, at the Faculty Club.

The 2000 Centennial Medalists are Harold Amos, Ph.D. ’52, Stanley Cavell, Ph.D. ’61, and Jill Ker Conway Ph.D. ’69.

The Centennial Medal was first awarded in 1989 at the 100th anniversary of the School. The medal honors alumni for contributions to society that have emerged from their graduate education at Harvard.

Amos has made significant research contributions to the fields of animal cell culture, bacterial metabolism, and animal and bacterial virology. He earned his Ph.D. from the Division of Medical Sciences(DMS)in 1952 and then joined the faculty of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at Harvard Medical School (HMS).

From 1968 until 1971, and again from 1975 until 1978, Amos served as chair of the department. He was named the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (and now emeritus) in 1971. He also served as chairman of the Division of Medical Sciences from 1971 until 1975 and from 1978 until 1989. He is one of the first two recipients of the Dr. Charles R. Drew World Medical Prize, awarded by Howard University Hospital. He also held a Fulbright Scholarship for research at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

Amos has devoted much time and effort to rewarding graduate student achievement and to supporting minorities in the field. In 1999, he was awarded the first annual Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award for his continuous contributions to diversity efforts in Harvard Medical School and the Division of Medical Sciences. He also supported the establishment of the Hinton-Wright Society in 1983, a graduate student body at HMS and DMS that supports and encourages minority scientists in the Boston medical community.

He has served on the Minority Faculty Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the steering committee of the Massachusetts General Hospital Physician Scientist Award Program, and as director-at-large of the American Cancer Society. In 1996, he received an honorary degree from Harvard University.

Cavell is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value, Emeritus, in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard. He received his A.B. in music from the University of California at Berkeley and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard. After teaching at Berkeley for six years, he returned to Harvard in 1963. He became emeritus in 1997.

Known for the diversity of his interests, Cavell has explored the intersection of the analytical tradition (especially the work of Austin and Wittgenstein) with theories of the Continental tradition (for example, Heidegger and Nietzsche); with American philosophy (especially Emerson and Thoreau); with the arts (such as Shakespeare, film, and opera); and with psychoanalysis. Among his notable publications are Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage; The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film; The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality and Tragedy; A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises; and Philosophical Passages: Wittgenstein, Emerson, Austin, and Derrida.

Cavell won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in Criticism from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992. He is also a past president of the American Philosophical Association.

Conway graduated from the University of Sydney in 1958 and received her Ph.D. from the History Department at Harvard in 1969. From 1964 to 1975, she taught at the University of Toronto and served as its vice president. In 1975, she became the first woman president of Smith College, a position that she held for the next 10 years.

At Smith, she instituted the Ada Comstock Scholars program, which allows older women with work and family obligations to take classes at a reduced pace. Since 1985, she has been a visiting scholar and professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As a historian, Conway specializes in the experience of women in America. She is the author of The Female Experience in 18th and 19th Century America and Women Reformers and American Culture. She is the editor (with Susan C. Bourque and Joan W. Scott) of Learning About Women: Gender, Politics, and Power.

Writing her autobiography, The Road from Coorain, led her to more study about autobiography and the construction of identity through the writing of life stories, specifically in the anthologies Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women and Written by Herself: Women’s Memoirs from Britain, Africa, Asia, and the United States, and in When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography.

In a recent article co-authored with Natalie Zemon Davis in the New York Times Magazine, Conway looked at “Women: The Shadow Story of the Millennium” and argued that “understanding the millennium requires looking past the male milestones of traditional history to see the shape of women’s lives.”