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Bard College Holds One Hundred Fifty-Seventh Commencement on Saturday, May 27, 2017

U.S. Representative John Lewis to Deliver Commencement Address; Honorary Degrees Will Be Awarded to Lewis, Classicist Mary Beard, Computer Scientist Erik D. Demaine, West Point Dean and Brigadier General Cindy R. Jebb, Artist Brice Marden,

Mark Primoff
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College will hold its one hundred fifty-seventh commencement on Saturday, May 27, 2017. At the commencement ceremony, Bard President Leon Botstein will confer 435 undergraduate degrees on the Class of 2017 and 141 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 science in economic theory and policy; 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 U.S. Representative John Lewis, who will receive an honorary doctorate of civil law. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to classicist Mary Beard, computer scientist Erik D. Demaine, West Point Dean and Brigadier General Cindy R. Jebb, artist Brice Marden, mathematician Karen Saxe ’82, and philanthropist Charles P. Stevenson Jr.
Other events taking place during Commencement weekend include class reunions; a concert by Bard student soloists and composers with The Orchestra Now, Leon Botstein, conductor; and the granting of Bard College awards for 2017. The Bard Medal will be presented to James H. Ottaway Jr.; the John and Samuel Bard Award in Medicine and Science to Mariana Raykova ’06; the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters to Nick Jones ’01; the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service to Betsaida Alcantara ’05; the Mary McCarthy Award to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and the Bardian Award to Mario J. A. Bick, Diana De G. Brown, and Marsha Davis.


U.S. Representative John Lewis was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in the House, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.
As a student at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.
During the height of the movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the movement, including sit-ins and other activities. By 1963, at the age of 23, Lewis had become a nationally recognized leader and was dubbed one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement. He was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. The following year, Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community actions during the Mississippi Freedom Summer.
On March 7, 1965, Hosea Williams, another notable civil rights leader, and Lewis led more than 600 peaceful protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs of the event helped hasten passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Medal of Freedom, Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, and National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award. In 2001, Lewis was awarded the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Award for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Lewis holds a B.A. in religion and philosophy from Fisk University and is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He has one son, John Miles.
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This event was last updated on 02-22-2017