Hobart and William Smith Colleges awarded five honorary degrees to individuals who, by virtue of their significant service toward improving the public good at the local and national levels, are powerful role models for the graduating seniors of the Classes of 2015. They included: the Commencement Speaker, David Gergen who is Harvard Professor of Public Policy and CNN political analyst; The Rev. Lesley Adams, chaplain of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who will deliver the Baccalaureate Address; Alan Khazei, founder and CEO of Be The Change, Inc.; The Hon. Louise Slaughter, congresswoman, (D-NY); and Lucile Mallard, president of the Geneva, N.Y. chapter of the NAACP and resource coordinator for the Canandaigua City (N.Y.) Court system. The ceremony marked the 190th graduation for Hobart and the 104th for William Smith.
“Commencement gives us an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of five individuals who have spent their lives in service to others,” said President Mark D. Gearan before the event. “David Gergen has dedicated his career to public service and community service, working in politics, journalism and higher education to inspire young leaders. Alan Khazei’s work as a social entrepreneur has inspired a national ethos of service. Lesley Adams’ tenure as chaplain has been marked by her commitment to inclusion and community-building. We also honor two women – Louise Slaughter and Lucile Mallard – who have dedicated their lives to two of the most critical issues of our day, ones that have deeply engaged our campus community during the past year: violence against women and racism. In honoring these individuals, we rededicate the HWS community to the ideals they hold most dear.”
Honorary degrees were presented during the 2015 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 17 on the Hobart Quadrangle.
Harvard Professor of Public Policy, best-selling author, CNN senior political analyst and trusted adviser to four United States Presidents, David Gergen joined the Harvard faculty in 1999. In his role as co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School, he has worked closely with a rising generation of younger leaders, especially social entrepreneurs, military veterans and Young Global Leaders chosen by the World Economic Forum. More information on Gergen and his HWS Commencement address can be found here.
Since 1995, Chaplain Lesley Adams has been leading the Hobart and William Smith community in interfaith celebration, reflection and guidance. A spiritual leader to campus, Adams holds a deep understanding of and commitment to interfaith inclusion and has helped advance the Colleges’ religious and pastoral offerings to meet the changing needs of the community. A thoughtful and effective communicator, Adams has the ability to seek and articulate intersections between the life of the mind and the life of the spirit. She will retire from her position as Chaplain at the end of the 2015 academic year.
Adams previously served as the Dean of Students at Colgate Rochester Divinity School (CRDS). She also served as the Registrar, Director of Financial Aid, Director of Field Education Program, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, and Director of the Women’s Studies Program at various points during her tenure at CRDS. Adams was ordained an Episcopal Priest in 1988, having earned her B.A. from Smith College, and her M.Div. from Harvard University. She is the Episcopal Province II coordinator for ministry in higher education. She is also an affiliate of the Center for Progressive Christianity.
Adams delivered the 2015 Baccalaureate address, held on Saturday, May 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Trinity Church on South Main Street.
Founder and CEO of Be The Change, Inc., and co-founder and former CEO of City Year, Alan Khazei is a social entrepreneur who has pioneered ways to empower citizens to make a difference. Be The Change, Inc., creates bi-partisan national issue based campaigns to affect public policy and culture by organizing coalitions of nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector leaders, academics and citizens. Founded in 1998 with City Year, the education-focused national service program unites young adults, ages 17 to 24, from all backgrounds for an intensive year of full-time community service mentoring, tutoring and educating children. City Year served as the model for President Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps program and now operates in 25 cities throughout the U.S. and the world.
Khazei has served on the boards of several leading national nonprofits and has received numerous awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, The Caring Institute Award, the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award, and the Harvard Law School Association Outstanding Alumni Award. In 2014, Khazei and his wife, New Profit CEO and Founder Vanessa Kirsch, were named to CNN Money/Fortune’s “World’s Greatest Leaders: 9 Dynamic Duos.” In 2006 U.S. News and World Report named Khazei as one of America’s 25 Best Leaders. In 2010, Khazei authored “Big Citizenship: How pragmatic idealism can bring out the best in America.” He is an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and the recipient of several honorary degrees. He currently teaches a course on social entrepreneurship at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and serves as the co-chair of the Franklin Project on National Service at the Aspen Institute.
One of the most powerful and unique voices in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was first elected to Congress in 1986, and immediately went to work fighting to improve the lives of the people of Rochester, N.Y. She is now serving her 14th term in the House of Representatives. In 2007, Slaughter became the first woman to chair the influential House Committee on Rules, where she helped to bring the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act to passage. In 1994, Slaughter co-authored the historic Violence Against Women Act and wrote legislation that made the Office on Violence Against Women a permanent fixture at the U.S. Department of Justice. Currently, she is leading the fight against sexual assault in the military.
Congresswoman Slaughter serves on the prestigious Democratic Steering & Policy Committee and is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, of which she is also a founding member. Born in Harlan County, Kentucky, Slaughter holds a B.S. in microbiology and an M.S. in public health from the University of Kentucky. As the only microbiologist in Congress, she continues to lead the charge in addressing the major science and health-related issues of our time.
Lucile Mallard, resource coordinator for the Canandaigua City (N.Y.) Court system, is responsible for Finger Lakes Drug Court, the adult treatment court program which provides alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. Mallard travels to local schools to talk about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse, sharing with students the knowledge and wisdom acquired from more than 30 years in the field. In 2013, she was awarded the Community Service and Humanitarian Pursuits Award, one of the most prestigious awards a non-judicial employee of the Unified Court System can receive for her involvement in community service and humanitarian pursuits.
Mallard has served as president of the Geneva chapter of the NAACP for more than 25 years and is a member of Geneva’s Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. As a member of the Geneva 2020 initiative to advance the Geneva schools and build a stronger community, Mallard’s Geneva NAACP has collaborated with the Colleges to offer local high school students a Princeton Review SAT Workshop. Additionally, Mallard and the NAACP have partnered with the Colleges on solidarity events on campus and within the Geneva community. Mallard also serves as an advisee to ONYA, the Ontario/Yates Fund for Women and Girls and is a member of the Geneva Chapter of the League of Women Voters.