Bard College Holds One Hundred Sixty-First Commencement on Saturday, May 29, 2021
Former Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard to Deliver Commencement AddressBard College will hold its one hundred sixty-first commencement on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Bard President Leon Botstein will confer 398 undergraduate degrees on the Class of 2021 and 136 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 and master of arts 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; master of music in vocal arts and in conducting; master of music in curatorial, critical, and performance studies; and master of education in environmental education. The program, which begins at 2:30 p.m. in the commencement tent on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Rugby Field, will be in-person for graduating students only, in accordance with NY State health and safety guidelines, and will be livestreamed for family and friends. It is closed to the public.
The Commencement address will be given by former Open Society Foundations President Patrick Gaspard, who will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Honorary degrees will also be awarded to dance therapy pioneer Miriam Roskin Berger ’56, economist William A. Darity Jr., climate scientist Michael E. Mann, actress Audra McDonald, Reverend Vivian D. Nixon, physician Siddhartha Mukherjee, and novelist Elif Shafak.
Other events taking place during Commencement Weekend include Bard College award ceremonies. The Bard Medal will be presented to Charles S. Johnson III ’70; the John and Samuel Bard Award in Medicine and Science to Brianna Norton ’00; the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters to Paul Chan MFA ’03; the John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service to Nsikan Akpan ’06; the Mary McCarthy Award to Claudia Rankine; and the Bardian Award to Peggy Florin, Medrie MacPhee, and Amie McEvoy.
ABOUT THE COMMENCEMENT SPEAKERPatrick Gaspard is former president of the Open Society Foundations (OSF). During his three-year tenure, he confronted significant threats to open societies around the globe, including the rise of authoritarian regimes and the spread of the COVID-19 virus worldwide. Gaspard conceptualized and stewarded Open Society’s contribution of $220 million in grants to build power in Black communities, and $200 million in global investments that included support for essential workers and other communities hit hard by COVID-19. Prior to leading OSF from 2018 through 2020, Gaspard was a key figure in President Barack Obama’s administration and held a number of prominent positions during Obama’s two terms in office.
Gaspard was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1967 to Haitian parents. He grew up in New York City and had a long career there in electoral and campaign politics. After attending Columbia University, he joined Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, then worked on David Dinkins’s successful bid to become the first African American mayor of New York City. Gaspard served as national deputy field director for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2003–4 before returning to labor organizing, where he rose to become executive vice president and political director of the 1199 branch of the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the United States.
In 2008, Gaspard joined Obama’s presidential campaign, serving as national political director. Following the inauguration, Gaspard transitioned to direct the White House Office of Political Affairs from 2009 to 2011. Thereafter, he served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011 to 2013, overseeing efforts to reelect Obama. Gaspard was subsequently appointed U.S. ambassador to South Africa, and served in this capacity from 2013 to 2016.
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Bard Press Contact:Mark Primoff
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