Skip to main content

Upcoming Commencement Dates

  • June 9, 2019
  • June 14, 2020
  • June 13, 2021
  • June 12, 2022

Dartmouth 2011 Honorary Degree Recipient: Joel I. Klein (Doctor of Humane Letters)

JOEL KLEIN, you understand the transformative power of education. Growing up in low-income housing, you attended New York City public schools, where dedicated teachers gave you the gifts of opportunity and purpose. Those educators inspired you to "pay it forward," and ultimately brought you back home to reform the school system that launched you on your remarkable career

With diplomas and honors from Columbia and Harvard Law School, you clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell and founded your own law firm. You served as deputy White House counsel for President Clinton and as U.S. Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division. In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered you the position of New York City schools chancellor and asked you to turn that system into a national model.

"I've been training for this job my whole life," you said. And what a job it was.

The responsibility was enormous—more than 1,600 schools, 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees and a $22 billion budget—but you were undaunted. You put your creativity to work, building a system of great schools by empowering leaders and excellent teachers. You enlisted the help of corporations and foundations. Despite having prosecuted the landmark case United States v. Microsoft earlier in your career, you persuaded The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund your efforts.

At the end of your tenure in 2010, The New York Times observed that you delivered on your promise to "challenge orthodoxies, shake up the status quo, and risk dislike in the name of progress." Today you continue to advocate for education reform, innovation, and universal access to the American Dream.

Joel, in recognition of the vision, grit, and passion you have shown in putting children first and for your unfailing belief in human potential, Dartmouth proudly presents you with the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Last Updated: 3/17/16