May 16, 2000 Geneva, NY — Colleges' President Mark D. Gearan has announced that Richard C. Holbrooke, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, will deliver the Commencement Address at the 2000 Hobart and William Smith College Commencement, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 11, on the Colleges Quadrangle.
During his career, Holbrooke has been a professional diplomat, a magazine editor, an author, a Peace Corps director, the chairman of two important non-government organizations, and an investment banker.
“Ambassador Holbrooke's commitment to service and extensive background in international affairs make him an appropriate speaker for our graduates and their families,” said Gearan. “His keen intellect has been evident in his leadership as the chief negotiator for the historic Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and in his ongoing work with the United Nations.
“And as a parent of Hobart graduate David Holbrooke '87, Ambassador Holbrooke is uniquely qualified to talk about Hobart and William Smith in the world today,” added Gearan.
Holbrooke began his career as a Foreign Service Officer immediately after graduation from Brown University in 1962. For the next seven years he held various positions that dealt with Vietnam, both in that country and in Washington, culminating with his participation as a member of the American Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam.
Following those assignments, Holbrooke spent a year as a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He later served as Peace Corps Director in Morocco and as managing editor of the quarterly magazine Foreign Policy. Holbrooke is the only person to have held the position of Assistant Secretary of State of two different regional bureaus in the State Department, one in East Asian and Pacific Affairs (during which time full diplomatic relations were established with China) and more recently for European and Canadian Affairs.
In a recent (March 26) feature article on Holbrooke in the New York Times magazine, Fouad Ajami, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University who has observed Holbrooke for many years, said “He harks back to an age when American power had great confidence that America could do well and do good at the same time. He embodies the innocense and activism and hubris and nervous energy of that time.”
Holbrooke has been very active in the non-profit arena as well, especially in the area of refugee assistance. He was chairman of Refugees International from 1996 to 1999 and was twice a member of the International Rescue Committee. Holbrooke is the author of To End a War (1998) and co-author of Counsel to the President (1991), as well as numerous articles on foreign policy.
He has received 12 honorary degrees from U.S. and international universities. Hobart and William Smith will honor him with his 13th, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He is married to author Kati Marton.
Approximately 400 seniors from the two colleges are expected to receive Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. The occasion is Hobart College's 175th Commencement and the 89th for William Smith College.
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