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Bard College Holds One Hundred Fifty-Fifth Commencement on Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. to Deliver Commencement Address; Honorary Degrees Will Be Awarded to Ifill, Choreographer Arthur Aviles ’87, Neurobiologist Cori Bargmann, Historia

Mark Primoff
Sherrilyn Ifill
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College will hold its one hundred fifty-fifth commencement on Saturday, May 23, 2015. At the commencement ceremony, Bard President Leon Botstein will confer 420 undergraduate degrees on the Class of 2015 and 148 graduate degrees, including master of fine arts; doctor and master of philosophy and master of arts in decorative arts, design history, and material culture; master of business administration in sustainability; master of arts in teaching; master of arts in curatorial studies; master of science in environmental policy and in climate science and policy; and master of music in vocal arts and in conducting. The program, which begins at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Rugby Field, will include the presentation of honorary doctoral degrees.

The commencement address will be given by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Ifill will receive an honorary doctorate of laws. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to dancer and choreographer Arthur Aviles ’87, neurobiologist Cori Bargmann, historian Anthony Grafton, and artist Kiki Smith.

Other events taking place during Commencement weekend include class reunions; a concert by Bard student soloists and composers with members of the American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein, conductor; and the granting of Bard College awards for 2015. The Bard Medal will be presented to Marieluise Hessel; the John and Samuel Bard Award in Medicine and Science to Ilyas Washington ’96; the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters to Charlotte Mandell ’90; the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service to Harvey L. Sterns ’65; the Mary McCarthy Award to Alice McDermott; and the Bardian Award to Benjamin La Farge, Mark Lytle, Martha J. Olson, Justus Rosenberg, and Hap Tivey.


Sherrilyn Ifill is the seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). Ifill is a longtime member of the LDF family. After graduating from law school, Ifill served as a fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union, and then for five years as an assistant counsel in LDF’s New York office, where she litigated voting rights cases. Among her successful litigation was the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

In 1993, Ifill joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Law, where, in addition to teaching civil procedure, constitutional law, and a variety of seminars, she continued to litigate and consult on a broad and diverse range of civil rights cases while grooming the next generation of civil rights lawyers. In addition to teaching in the classroom, Ifill launched several innovative legal offerings while at Maryland Law School, including an environmental justice course in which students represented rural communities in Maryland. She also initiated one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on removing legal barriers to formerly incarcerated persons seeking to responsibly reenter society. From her base in Baltimore, Ifill emerged as a highly regarded national civil rights strategist and public intellectual whose writings, speeches, and media appearances enrich public debate about a range of political and civil rights issues.

A critically acclaimed author, Ifill wrote On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, which reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. Her scholarly writing has focused on the importance of diversity on the bench, and she is currently writing a book about race and Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Ifill is the immediate past chair of the Board of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country.

Ifill is a graduate of Vassar College, and received her J.D. from New York University School of Law. 

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CAPTION INFO: Sherrilyn Ifill.

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This event was last updated on 05-07-2015