Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degree Recipients Chosen
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013 16:02
Earlier this month, the recipients of Honorary Degrees and the Commencement Speaker for this May’s graduation were announced. Those nominated and invited include Anne Fadiman, who will not only receive an honorary degree but will also be the commencement speaker; Janet Eisner, SND; and Jack D. Rehm, ‘54. These three individuals accepted the Board of Trustee’s invitation to receive these degrees and/or address the graduating seniors and their families and friends.
The process by which these individuals are chosen and invited is not only thorough but drawn out over a long period of time. During the spring semester, an email goes out to the Holy Cross community calling for nominations from all members of the community for speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients. The Office of Public Affairs receives all of these nominations, and passes them on to the Honorary Degree Committee to discuss during the following fall semester. This committee is made up of five members of the College’s faculty and staff, as well as one student who serves as the Commencement Chair for the graduating class.
“As a student on the committee, I serve to represent student opinions and response to the decision process,” said Lauren Spurr, Commencement Chair for the class of 2013. Those nominations for who will receive the degrees as well as the commencement speaker are deliberated over and narrowed down until the list can be sent to the President’s Office for a final decision.
As mentioned previously, nominations are submitted from all members of the Holy Cross community. Anyone can be nominated, and all nominations are considered by the Honorary Degree Committee. “We try to ensure that all recipients are representative of the liberal arts tradition of the College and connect with the mission statement,” Lauren explained. The areas considered include service, scholarly excellence and personal commitment to the College.
For this upcoming May, the Honorary Degree Recipients and the Commencement Speaker are excellent examples of what is looked for in candidates. Anne Fadiman, the Commencement Speaker, is an acclaimed author, editor, essayist and teacher; she is the Francis Writer in Residence at Yale University, and has been since 2005. She is the recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award for her first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures (1997). She has received numerous other awards, written two collections of essays, and was a founding editor of the Library of Congress magazine Civilization. In 2012, she was awarded Yale’s Richard H. Brodhead Prize for Teaching Excellence.
Janet Eisner, President of Emmanuel College in Boston, is an Honorary Degree Recipient. She is the nation’s longest-serving woman college president, serving as the College’s president since 1979. She led the transition of Emmanuel from an all-women’s college to a coeducational college, increased application and enrollment many times over, and has served on numerous educational commissions and boards.
Jack D. Rehm, class of 1954 and Honorary Degree Recipient, is a member of the Holy Cross Cornerstone Society, a Lifetime President’s Council member, a former Trustee, member of the Advisory Board, and co-chair for his class’s reunion gift committee for the 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, and 45th reunions. Throughout his career, he rose through the ranks to become the CEO of the Meredith Corporation, named publisher of the year in 1988 and received the Henry Johnson Fisher Award in 1989. He was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1999 and has been instrumental in the effort to renew downtown Des Moines, his home and the headquarters of the Meredith Corporation since 1902.
Each of these three recipients has shown dedication and excellence in education and scholarly activities, as well as service to others, and are very deserving of the honor the College has nominated them for.