Economist John Kenneth Galbraith was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, at a ceremony, August 9, at the White House.

Galbraith, the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus, has been a member of the Harvard faculty for 52 years. Known for his many books on economics and social dynamics, as well as novels, memoirs, and other works, Galbraith has also been active in public life, serving as an advisor to President Kennedy and as ambassador to India (1961-63). “I very much appreciate this honor,” Galbraith said. “I’m trying hard to respond to it with appropriate modesty.”

President Neil L. Rudenstine commented: “This is an honor in which all of us rejoice. For a good deal more than half a century, Ken Galbraith has brought intellectual incisiveness, generosity of spirit, stylistic elegance, sheer sanity, and great good sense to the world of our public discourse.” Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1908, Galbraith emigrated to the United States in 1931. He has received some 45 honorary degrees from universities worldwide, including Harvard, Oxford, the University of Paris, Moscow State University, and the University of Toronto.

He is the author of more than 30 books, including The Affluent Society (1958), The New Industrial State (1967) and Economics and the Public Purpose (1973). His most recent works are Letters to Kennedy (1998) and Name-Dropping: From F.D.R. On (1999).