Nine men and two women will receive honorary degrees in Harvard’s 352nd Commencement Exercises this morning, including Ernesto Zedillo, who will speak at the Commencement Afternoon Exercises.
In alphabetical order, the recipients are Gary S. Becker, Doctor of Laws; Elliot Forbes, Doctor of Music; Norman C. Francis, Doctor of Laws; Ellsworth Kelly, Doctor of Arts; Mary-Claire King, Doctor of Science; Donald E. Knuth, Doctor of Science; Linda Nochlin, Doctor of Letters; Philip Roth, Doctor of Letters; Robert G. Stone Jr., Doctor of Humane Letters; P. Roy Vagelos, Doctor of Laws; and Ernesto Zedillo, Doctor of Laws.
Gary S. Becker
Doctor of Laws
Gary S. Becker won the Nobel Prize for Economic Science in 1992 for his work on economics associated with important social problems. He is a University Professor in the Departments of both Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago. He has been a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution since 1990.
Until the early 1980s, Becker says, his work on social issues was “either ignored or strongly disliked by most of the leading economists.” As professional opinion shifted, however, he received many awards and honors in recognition of his work in the areas of human capital, economics of the family, and economic analysis of crime, discrimination, and population. He received the National Medal in Science, the first social science Award of Merit from the National Institutes of Health, the Irene Tauber Award for Excellence in Demographic Research, and the Lord Foundation Award.
Becker earned undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago. After teaching at Columbia University for 12 years, he returned to the University of Chicago in 1968.
Until 1983, Becker wrote only technical books and articles for professional journals. Then he accepted an invitation to write a monthly column for Business Week, something he has been doing ever since. “It was a wise decision,” he recalls, “for I was forced to learn how to write about economic and technical issues without using technical jargon.”
Becker’s current research focuses on habits and addictions, formation of preferences, human capital, and population growth.
Doctor of Music
Elliot Forbes is the Fanny Peabody Professor of Music Emeritus at Harvard University, former chairman of the Department of Music, and former conductor of the Harvard Glee Club.
Forbes has written many articles and reviews for Musical Quarterly, Music and Letters, Choral Music, and other journals. He revised and edited “Thayer’s Life of Beethoven,” compiled “The Harvard Song Book,” and wrote “A History of Music at Harvard to 1972” and “A Report of Music at Harvard from 1972-1990.” Forbes is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received the Harvard Medal in 1991, the Signet Society Medal for Achievement in the Arts in 1985, and an Honorary Doctor of Music from the New England Conservatory in 1996.
He received a B.A. from Harvard in 1941 and an M.A. in 1947. After spending 11 years at Princeton, he returned to Harvard as professor of music and director of the Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society in 1958.
Forbes says his fondest memories are of teaching undergraduates at both Harvard and Princeton. He also found his worldwide tours with the Harvard Glee Club and the Radcliffe Choral Society particularly rewarding, especially an around-the-world tour with the Glee Club in 1961.
Forbes retired from teaching in 1984 and since then has devoted his energy to writing about the history of music at Harvard.
His father, Edward W. Forbes, director of the Fogg Art Museum from 1909 to 1944, received honorary degrees from Harvard in 1921 and 1942. An uncle, William Cameron Forbes, received an honorary degree in 1912.
Norman C. Francis
Doctor of Laws
Norman C. Francis was the first African-American president of Xavier University in New Orleans, the only black and Catholic university in the Western Hemisphere. A 1952 graduate of Xavier, Francis attended Loyola University Law School and, in 1955, became the first African American to receive a law degree from that institution. He returned to his alma mater that year to begin a career that started as dean of men and culminated, in 1968, in his current position as university president. During that time, Xavier has more than tripled its enrollment, broadened its curriculum, and received national attention for its award-winning academic initiatives and programs.
Francis served as an adviser to five U.S. presidents. He was a member of the National Commission on Excellence in Education whose findings, published in 1983 as “A Nation at Risk,” created a sense of urgency for bringing about reform in the nation’s school system. Francis has served as chairman of the Member President’s Council for the United Negro College Fund, president of the American Association of Higher Education, and board member of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and of the Foundation for Improvement in Education. He is also a former chairman of the board of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and former chairman of the board of the Educational Testing Service.
Throughout his career, Francis has provided leadership for civil rights, educational, civic, and religious organizations. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary degrees from 22 (now 23) institutions of higher education.
Doctor of Arts
Ellsworth Kelly made his mark on modern art by becoming the anti-Picasso. “Picasso was one person you had to get out of your blood,” he said in a 1999 interview. While Picasso and others of his generation sought to impose their vision on the world through personal style and imagery, Kelly sought to efface himself, appropriating abstract designs from the natural world or discovering them through accident or chance.
Born in Newburgh, N.Y., in 1923, Kelly was introduced to bird watching by his mother and grandmother, which awakened his passion for color and form. He studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., until he was drafted into the army in 1943. During World War II he served in the 603rd Engineers Camouflage Battalion, and after being discharged continued his studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston under the G.I. Bill. Later, working and studying in Paris, he developed and refined his approach to abstract design.
In a career spanning five decades, Kelly has pursued an independent route, initially working almost in isolation with only his own theories and intuitions to guide him. His emphasis on pure form and color and his suppression of gesture in favor of spatial unity have played a pivotal role in the development of abstract art in America.
Kelly’s first solo exhibition in the United States was in 1956 at the Betty Parson’s Gallery in New York City. During the 1950s and ’60s, Kelly’s paintings and sculpture received wider recognition, appearing in the permanent collections of major museums and winning important prizes.
He has had major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Today his work can be seen all over the world, including the UNESCO building in Paris, Empire State Plaza in Albany, N.Y., the Joe Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, and in the courtyard of Harvard’s Peabody Terrace.
Doctor of Science
Mary-Claire King’s discovery in 1990 that inherited breast cancer was caused by a mutation on a single gene revolutionized the study of cancer and opened up new lines of research. King’s breakthrough came about as the result of 15 years of studying the genetics of more than 1,000 women of Eastern European Jewish background, a group with a higher than normal incidence of the disease.
Born in a suburb of Chicago in 1946, King first thought of going into medical research when a close friend died of cancer at the age of 15. King earned a B.A. in mathematics from Carleton College, graduating at the age of 19. She began a Ph.D. program in genetics at the University of California, Berkeley, but dropped out to work for consumer advocate Ralph Nader, conducting studies on the effect of pesticides on farm workers. Returning to Berkeley, she undertook a doctoral research project in which she investigated the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees. Her startling discovery that the two species were 99 percent genetically identical suggested that humans and chimps had diverged more recently than had been thought.
In addition to her scientific work, King has become a powerful advocate for women’s health issues. She also uses her expertise in genetics to help reunite families in Argentina that were torn apart during the civil war of the mid-1970s. During that time, children of mothers who “disappeared” at the hands of the military dictatorship were put into orphanages. King’s lab has reunited many of these children with their families on the basis of genetic evidence.
King is now the American Cancer Society Research Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. She has served on the National Commission on Breast Cancer of the President’s Cancer Panel, the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Recently she has been investigating the genetics of HIV/AIDS and of inherited human deafness.
Donald E. Knuth
Doctor of Science
Donald E. Knuth is a computer-programming superstar. His three-volume magnum opus “The Art of Computer Programming” (he is now working on volume four) has sold more than a million copies and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Hungarian. Begun in 1962 when Knuth was still a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, the work is a foundational textbook written with extraordinary thoroughness, but also with humor and elegance, substantiating its author’s assertion that “Computer programming is an art form, like the creation of poetry or music.”
Knuth first encountered a computer in 1956 and almost immediately began making improvements on existing programs. One of his first experiments was a program that analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the Case Institute of Technology basketball team. The team’s coach later claimed that it helped the team win a league championship, which led to Knuth being featured in a 1958 article in Newsweek.
Considered by some to be the greatest computer programmer of all time, Knuth is responsible for solving many of the problems that make today’s computers possible, areas that include algorithmic analysis, parsing, and the design of compilers. The author of many books and more than 150 articles, he has also created two computer languages for digital typesetting – TeX and METAFONT, which are available worldwide as free software.
Born in Milwaukee in 1938, Knuth earned a B.A. from Case Institute of Technology (later Case Western Reserve) in 1960 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Caltech in 1963. He is now professor emeritus at Stanford University. He received the Turing Award in 1974, the National Medal of Science in 1979, The Adelsköld Medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1994, and the Kyoto Prize in 1996, to mention only a few.
In addition to his work with computers, Knuth has written a novel, “Surreal Numbers” (1974) and an analysis of the Bible. A musician since childhood, he now relaxes by playing a pipe organ that he designed himself.
Doctor of Letters
Art historian Linda Nochlin is the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at New York University’s (NYU) Institute of Fine Arts. She specializes in the art of the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in the work of Gustave Courbet and the Impressionists, and the representation of women and the work of women artists. Her book “Woman as Sex Object: Studies in Erotic Art, 1730-1970,” published in 1972, introduced a feminist perspective to the field of art history and criticism.
A graduate of Vassar College (B.A., 1951), Columbia University (M.A., 1952), and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts (Ph.D., 1963), Nochlin has served as a professor of art history and the humanities at Yale University, as Distinguished Professor of Art History at City University in New York, and as Mary Conover Mellon Professor of Art History at Vassar College. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and of New York University’s Institute for the Humanities. She has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and the annual recognition award from the Committee on Women and the Arts of the College Art Association.
In addition to “Woman as Sex Object,” Nochlin’s publications include “Realism and Tradition in Art, 1848-1900: Sources and Documents,” “Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, 1874-1904: Sources and Documents,” “The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society,” “The Body in Pieces,” and “Representing Women,” as well as many articles. She is currently working on a study of French 19th century bathing and bathers, called “Bathtime,” and an analytic history of the modern portrait from the time of the Impressionists to the present.
Doctor of Letters
The prolific, sometimes controversial author Philip Roth is best known for fiction that depicts the middle-class American Jewish experience with humor and sarcasm as well as sympathy and depth. He is the author of 25 books, including his debut “Goodbye, Columbus” (1959), which won the National Book Award; the revolutionary “Portnoy’s Complaint” (1969); PEN/Faulkner Award-winner “Operation Shylock” (1993); the National Book Award-winning “Sabbath’s Theater” (1995); and “American Pastoral” (1997), which won the Pulitzer Prize.
“Goodbye, Columbus,” a novella and a collection of stories Roth originally wrote for the Paris Review, Esquire, and The New Yorker, catapulted him to fame at age 26. But it was “Portnoy’s Complaint,” with its frank and hilarious depiction of the emotionally arrested erotomaniac Alexander Portnoy, that brought Roth worldwide notoriety. Roth introduced his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, in “The Ghost Writer” (1979), blurring the lines between fiction and reality. He wrote eight novels in Zuckerman’s voice, including the postwar trilogy “American Pastoral” (1997), “I Married a Communist” (1998), and “The Human Stain” (2000).
Born in Newark, N.J., in 1933, Roth attended Rutgers University and received his B.A. at Bucknell University. He received the M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1955. Roth has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Hunter College of the City University of New York. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which recently honored him with its highest award, the 2001 Gold Medal for Fiction. Roth also received the 2002 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation.
Robert G. Stone Jr.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert Stone, an energy and shipping executive and private venture capital investor, was a member of the Harvard Corporation for 27 years, serving as Senior Fellow of the University’s executive governing board from 1995 until June 2002. Stone served as national chair of the $2.6 billion University Campaign in the 1990s and as co-chair of its predecessor, the $358 million Harvard Campaign. He chaired the search committee that selected President Lawrence H. Summers.
From 1947 until the 1970s, Stone was associated with States Marine Lines, an international cargo shipping concern. As of 1980, he chaired West India Shipping Co. and General Energy Co., which had interests in coal mining and oil and gas exploration. In 1985, he became chairman of Kirby Corp., which engages in inland and offshore marine transportation and diesel repairs, and property and casualty insurance. He retired as chairman in 1994 but continues to serve as chairman emeritus and a director.
Stone has held over 20 corporate directorships, including those at Chubb Corp., Corning, Hamilton Oil Corp., the Pittston Corp., Russell Reynolds Associates, Santa Fe International Corp., and Tandem Computers. He is on the board of several mutual funds managed by Scudder and Stevens & Clark. He has served in leadership positions on the boards of several nonprofits, including Mystic Seaport Museum and the National Rowing Foundation.
A member of the class of 1945, Stone graduated from Harvard College in 1947 following service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He studied economics and was an active rower, captaining a world record-setting heavyweight crew team in his senior year. In 2001, he endowed the Harvard men’s heavyweight crew coach’s position.
P. Roy Vagelos
Doctor of Laws
P. Roy Vagelos served as chief executive officer of Merck & Co. Inc. for nine years and as chairman of the health products giant’s board of directors for eight, ending with his retirement in 1994.
Vagelos distinguished himself in scientific research, becoming an authority on lipids and enzymes, before turning his skills to business. He received an A.B. in 1950 from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.D. from Columbia University in 1954.
After an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Vagelos joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he served in the National Heart Institute’s Laboratory of Biochemistry as senior surgeon and as head of the Section of Comparative Biochemistry.
He left the NIH in 1966 for Washington University to become chairman of biological chemistry in the university’s medical school. In 1973, he founded the university’s Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, becoming the division’s director from 1973 to 1975.
Vagelos joined Merck in 1975 as senior vice president of research. He became president of Merck’s research division in 1976. In January 1982, he also became senior vice president of Merck with responsibility for strategic planning, holding both positions until 1984, when he was elected executive vice president.
Vagelos has written more than 100 scientific papers and received the Enzyme Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society in 1967. That award is just one of many he has received in his career. He was elected in 1972 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the National Academy of Sciences.
Vagelos is currently chairman of the board of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a director of both the Prudential Insurance Company of America and the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center. He is a trustee of The Danforth Foundation. He served as chairman of the board of trustees of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1999 and has also served as co-chairman of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and as president and chief executive officer of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon
Doctor of Laws
Ernesto Zedillo served as president of Mexico for six years and then oversaw the transfer of power after 71 years of rule by Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Zedillo, currently a professor in the field of international economics and policy at Yale University and director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, instituted many economic, political, and judicial reforms in Mexico, and has been credited with moving the country toward democratization.
In recent years, Zedillo has dedicated himself to persuading developing nations to pursue free trade agreements and has said that the developed world has an obligation to consider the welfare of other nations when formulating policies.
Zedillo was born in Mexico City in 1951 and attended Mexican public schools. He graduated from the School of Economics at the National Polytechnic Institute and then earned a doctorate in economics at Yale in 1981.
After leaving Yale, Zedillo began a career as economist, deputy manager of economic research, and deputy director of Mexico’s Central Bank. In 1987, he was appointed undersecretary of the budget for the Mexican Federal Government, helping design economic reforms. A year later, he was appointed secretary of economic programming and the budget, a post he held until 1992.
Zedillo was appointed secretary of education in early 1992 and in nine months launched a reform of Mexico’s basic education system. The reforms updated the national curriculum, established special programs for poor students, and decentralized the system, giving power to the Mexican states.
In 1993, Zedillo left the government to head Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) presidential candidate Louis Donaldo Colosio’s campaign. He became the PRI presidential candidate himself after Colosio was assassinated in March 1994. Zedillo was elected in August 1994 and inaugurated the following December.
After taking office, Zedillo was faced with a major financial and economic crisis, which he met with an austerity plan that, along with pledges of aid from the United States, staved off collapse of the Mexican currency. He bequeathed to successor Vicente Fox a stable democracy that had seen its highest five-year gross domestic product growth ever, from 1996 to 2000.
After leaving office, Zedillo chaired the United Nations High Level Panel on Financing for Development. He was awarded the Wilbur Cross Medal and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Yale in 2001. He became director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization in September 2002.