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Distinguished Leaders to be Honored
Honorary degree recipients have been announced for the 59th Commencement exercises to be held in May. They include a global diplomat, Paula Dobriansky, U.S. under secretary of state for global affairs; a writer of international stature, Chinua Achebe; a photographer who has captured the human consequences of war, Steve McCurry; and an outstanding educator, Peter Falley.
Keynoter—Under Secretary of State
Paula Dobriansky, who was nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate as under secretary of state for global affairs, will be the keynote speaker at Commencement.
She is responsible for a broad range of foreign policy issues, including democracy, human rights, labor, counter-narcotics and law enforcement, refugee and humanitarian relief matters and environmental/scientific issues.
Since her appointment, she has been at the forefront of the White House campaign to highlight the Taliban’s oppressive treatment of women. She has stated that “Prior to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, women made up more than half of all students at Kabul University, 70 percent of the nation’s schoolteachers, half of all civilian government workers and 40 percent of the doctors in Kabul.”
Dobriansky has served three presidents. In the Reagan administration, she served as director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council. In 1999, while she was vice president and director of the Washington Office of the Council on Foreign Relations, President Clinton nominated her as a member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
Her other government appointments include associate director for policy and programs at the United States Information Agency; deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs; deputy head of the U.S. Delegation to the 1990 Copenhagen Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe; and adviser to the U.S. delegation to the 1985 U.N. Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
A Writer of the Human Story
Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian, is considered to be the founding father of the African novel.
With the publication of Things Fall Apart in 1958, Achebe opened the eyes of the world to the Africa of Africans in telling a story of the human condition and the consequences of the collision of African and European cultures. It was the first modern novel written by an African in English to enjoy worldwide success, and more than eight million copies have been sold. Things Fall Apart is required reading in the University Core course Cross-cultural Perspectives.
Achebe’s work has been translated into 50 languages, and he has been hailed as one of the “1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century” by London’s Sunday Times. When Nelson Mandela remembered the books he read in a South African prison, he said, “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe, in whose company the prison walls fell down.”
His latest work, Home and Exile (2000), is based on a series of autobiographic lectures. In 1990, he was about to start a semester at Stanford University and, while traveling to the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since that time, he has been the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr., Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. In 1999, he went to Nigeria for five weeks, the first time he had been home in a decade.
Achebe studied broadcasting at the BBC in London and worked at the Nigerian Broadcasting Company. Due to the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967–1970, he left to serve in the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra as a diplomat. He played a central role in the development of modern African writing as the advisory editor for the Heinemann African Writers Series, where he has been associated since 1970.
A Photographer of the Human Condition
Award-winning photographer Steve McCurry looks for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. For more than 20 years he has pursued that goal, looking into the faces of people across the globe. The result is a portfolio of some of the most memorable and haunting photographs of our time.
His photograph of a 12-year-old Afghan girl with startling green eyes has become one of the most widely reproduced photos in the world. It became a National Geographic magazine icon after it was published on the cover in 1985. This year, it was again on the cover of that journal.
McCurry’s career reached a turning point in the 1980s when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled Afghanistan just before the Soviet invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes. These images won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise.
He has covered areas of conflict that include Burma, Yemen, Kashmir, Cambodia, Iran-Iraq and Beirut as well as the Gulf War and the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. He has been arrested and chained in Pakistan, nearly drowned in a plane crash in Slovenia and was beaten up in India.
Steve McCurry has been named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers’ Association and — in one year — won an unprecedented four first prizes in the World Press Photo Contest. He has won the Eisenstaedt Award and has twice been named the winner of the Olivier Rebbot Memorial Award. In 1998, he was named Life Magazine’s World Photo Winner.
An Educator and Leader at Fairleigh Dickinson
An honorary degree also will be conferred on Peter Falley, provost of the Florham-Madison Campus, who is ending his 34-year career at the University. He came to Fairleigh Dickinson as an assistant professor of mathematics and held the positions of full professor and dean of the Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences prior to becoming provost.
The list of his scholarship, creative activity, professional assignments, University committee assignments and special projects is extensive. It includes serving as department chair, president of the academic Senate and Faculty Handbook chair. Falley played a key role as chair of the University Strategic Planning commission in 1990–1991. He was the recipient of Fairleigh Dickinson’s Distinguished Faculty Award for University Service in 1988 and the State of New Jersey Faculty Recognition Award in 1989.
“It is appropriate,” said President J. Michael Adams, “that we use our Commencement to honor one of our own, and no one is more deserving than Peter Falley.”
Honorary degree committees were formed last fall, and the campus-based groups sought input from all constituencies. Names were submitted to the Academic Policies and Research Committee for its approval as well as the Educational Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees. The full Board of Trustees approved the names in December. President Adams said he felt this group of honorees “well supported the mission of the University.”
These four outstanding individuals will be honored at Commencement on Tuesday, May 21, in the Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.
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