Campus & Community

Radcliffe honors Alumnae Award winners

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The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has announced this year’s Radcliffe alumnae award winners, who will be honored at the annual Radcliffe Awards Symposium on June 6 at the American Repertory Theatre’s Loeb Drama Center. The event will also feature a panel discussion by alumnae award winners titled “What Are the Challenges, Risks, and Obligations for Women in 2008 and Beyond?” This symposium occurs annually as part of Harvard-Radcliffe Commencement Week.

“By extending the boundaries of knowledge in a wide range of fields and by helping to ensure the presence of women at the forefront of scholarship and research, these distinguished alumnae have also helped advance the mission of the Radcliffe Institute,” said Barbara J. Grosz, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “We express our admiration for their accomplishments and steadfast commitment to Radcliffe as we honor them with this year’s alumnae awards.”

Following are the 2008 Radcliffe Institute alumnae award winners in their respective categories. More extensive biographical information on the winners is available at


Alumnae Recognition Awards are presented to Radcliffe and Harvard alumnae “whose lives and spirits exemplify the value of a liberal arts education.” There are three 2008 Alumnae Recognition Award recipients:

Margaret (Peggy) Kemeny is the director of the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital, which was the New York public health system’s first comprehensive cancer center. She is also a professor of surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and co-founder of the Association of Women Surgeons. One of the first women cancer surgeons in the United States, Kemeny has worked tirelessly to improve the early detection of cancer and to improve the status of women in surgery. In 2006, she helped organize and participated in the panel discussion at Radcliffe titled “Women Surgeons: Cutting New Paths.” She has received numerous honors and is featured on the Best Doctors in America list. Kemeny earned a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and Harvard colleges in 1968 and a medical degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Anne Manson is a musical conductor whose work with the New York City Opera and the Juilliard Opera Center has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times. In 1994, she was the first woman to conduct at the Salzburg Festival, where she conducted the Vienna Philharmonic. She has served as musical director of the Kansas City Symphony; among leading American symphony orchestras, she is one of only three women appointed to this post. Manson is the founder of the London-based Mecklenburgh Opera. She studied at the Royal College of London and earned a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and Harvard colleges in 1983.

Francine Prose is the author of 15 books of fiction and several books of nonfiction. She is also president of the PEN American Center. Among her works are the recent, best-selling “Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them” (HarperCollins, 2007) and “Blue Angel” (HarperCollins, 2000), a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, the National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a director’s fellowship at New York Public Library’s Center for Scholars and Writers. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and Harvard colleges in 1968 and a master’s degree from Harvard University in 1969.


The Graduate Society Awards are presented to alumnae of Harvard and Radcliffe graduate Schools and Radcliffe’s fellowship programs for outstanding contributions to their professions. There are two Graduate Society Award recipients:

Rounaq Jahan is a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Southern Asian Institute and an adjunct professor of international affairs at the university’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is the author of numerous books and articles. Jahan founded Women for Women, Bangladesh’s first feminist nongovernmental research organization, in 1973, and joined the Bangladeshi delegation to the United Nations in 1977. In the 1980s, she was the head of women’s programs at the United Nations. Jahan earned a bachelor’s degree from Dhaka University, Bangladesh, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Radcliffe and Harvard colleges in 1968 and 1970, respectively.

Harriet Ritvo is the Arthur J. Connor Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of “The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age” (Penguin, 1990), which won her the Whiting Writer’s Award for nonfiction, and “The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination” (Harvard University Press, 1997), which was a New York Times Notable Book of 1997. In recognition of her work, she has received prizes and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. Ritvo earned a bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe and Harvard colleges in 1968 and a doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1975.


The eponymous Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award, named for the former Radcliffe College Alumnae Association executive director, is presented to an alumna in the 10th reunion class for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of women, her profession, or the Radcliffe Institute. There is one 2008 Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award recipient:

Rebecca Onie is the executive director of Project HEALTH, an organization she co-founded as a pilot program with Barry Zuckerman (then chair of pediatrics at Boston Medical Center) while she was in her sophomore year of college. Her earlier work as executive director of the burgeoning organization earned her a Br!ck Award for community leadership from the organization Do Something. Between her first and second terms as executive director of Project HEALTH, Onie served as a clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. She received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1998 and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 2003.


Distinguished Service Awards recognize outstanding service to Radcliffe. The 2008 Distinguished Service Award winners are Mary Cunningham Bailey ’48; Elisabeth R. Nelson Hatfield ’58; Elise Odmann Parker ’48, Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration (HRPBA) ’49; Eleanor Wilson Williams ’58, ’83; andSusan Williamson ’58.

Founded in 1999 as part of the merger of Radcliffe College and Harvard University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is a scholarly community where individuals pursue advanced work across a wide range of academic disciplines, professions, and creative arts. Within this broad purpose, the institute sustains a continuing commitment to the study of women, gender, and society.