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BARD COLLEGE TO HOLD ONE HUNDRED FORTY-THIRD COMMENCEMENT ON SATURDAY, MAY 24, 2003 Civil Rights Champion and Harvard Law Professor Lani Guinier to Deliver Commencement Address

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College will hold its one hundred forty-third commencement on Saturday, May 24. At the commencement ceremony, Bard President Leon Botstein will award 293 undergraduate degrees to the Class of 2003 and 94 graduate degrees: 33 masters of fine arts; 23 masters of arts in the history of the decorative arts, design, and culture; 17 masters of arts in curatorial studies; 13 masters of science in environmental studies; and eight masters of science in environmental policy. The program, which begins at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Field, will also include the presentation of honorary doctoral degrees.

The commencement address will be given by pioneering civil rights activist and Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Nobel Prize–winning economist George Akerlof, psychologist and author Kay Redfield Jamison, soprano Jessye Norman, and historian and broadcaster Simon Schama. Leon Levy, the late financier, philanthropist, and life trustee of Bard College, will be awarded an honorary degree posthumously.

Other events taking place during commencement weekend include class reunions; a concert by Bard student soloists and composers with the American Symphony Orchestra, Leon Botstein, conductor; and the presentation of Bard College Awards. The Bard Medal will be presented to Richard D. Griffiths; the John and Samuel Bard Award in Medicine and Science to Robert Levenson '67; the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters to David Gates '69; the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service to Jennifer H. Madans '73; the Mary McCarthy Award to Nadine Gordimer; and the Bardian Award to William Weaver.


Lani Guinier is Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard University; she is the first black woman to receive tenure at Harvard Law School. She was special assistant to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1977 to 1981 and was assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York City from 1981 to 1988. She joined the University of Pennsylvania Law School faculty in 1988 and received tenure there in 1992.

Guinier received significant attention in 1993 when President Clinton nominated her to be the first black woman to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Though conservative attacks on her views on democracy and voting led Clinton to withdraw her nomination, Guinier emerged from the experience as an even more prominent speaker on issues of race, gender, and democratic decision making. She is one of the nation's most sought-after speakers on these subjects and has made many appearances on national television news shows, such as Nightline and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She has written extensively on new approaches to persistent problems, including those surrounding affirmative action, gender equality, and race-conscious political districting. Her book Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice is an analysis of the civil rights movement through the lens of her rescinded 1993 nomination.

She is the author or coauthor of several other books, including The Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy; Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law Schools and Institutional Change; Who's Qualified: A New Democracy Forum on Creating Equal Opportunity in School and Jobs; and The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy.

She has a B.A. degree from Radcliffe College and a J.D. degree from Yale Law School. She has received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence from the Harvard Law School Class of 2002; the Harvey Levin Teaching Award from the University of Pennsylvania Law School Class of 1994; the Leila J. Robinson Woman of Achievement Award from the Women's Bar Association; the Rosa Parks Award from the American Association of Affirmative Action; and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund William H. Hastie Award.

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This event was last updated on 05-28-2003