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>  News Releases >   2002 >   May

'Mister Rogers' to give Dartmouth Commencement Address

Posted 05/02/02

Fred McFeely Rogers, better known as "Mister Rogers," will deliver the main address at Dartmouth College's 2002 Commencement exercises, which will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 9, on the Dartmouth Green.

Besides Rogers, speakers for the event will include Dartmouth President James Wright and the Valedictorian of the undergraduate senior class (who is announced the week of Commencement, after final grades are calculated).

The College expects to award approximately 1,000 bachelor's degrees and approximately 500 master's or doctoral degrees in the Arts and Sciences or from one of the College's three professional schools: Dartmouth Medical School, Thayer School of Engineering and the Tuck School of Business.

At Commencement, Dartmouth will confer honorary degrees on:

  • Fred Rogers (Doctor of Humane Letters) , who is creator and host of the television program "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and Chief Executive Officer of Family Communications Inc. He attended Dartmouth from 1946-48 as a member of the Class of 1950, before transferring to Rollins College (where he graduated) to study in the music program there.
  • Marilyn Gaston (Doctor of Science), former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and a physician internationally recognized for her work dedicated to improving the health of poor and minority families in the United States and abroad.
  • Yuan-Tseh Lee (Doctor of Science) , President of Academia Sinica, the highest government-sponsored academic research institution in Taiwan, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1986 for seminal, far-reaching advancements in chemical reaction dynamics.
  • Gerda Lerner (Doctor of Letters) , the Robinson-Edwards Professor of History Emerita at the University of Wisconsin, who is a leading pioneer in women's history and helped establish several graduate programs in the field.
  • Arthur Mitchell (Doctor of Arts) , founder and artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
  • Evelyn Stefansson Nef (Doctor of Humane Letters) , writer, polar researcher and noted philanthropist. President of the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation, she has written extensively about arctic regions and, with Vilhjalmur Stefansson, helped to establish the Stefansson Collection that is now located in Dartmouth's Rauner Library. In 2001, she was awarded the Icelandic Order of the Falcon.
  • E. John Rosenwald Jr. (Doctor of Laws) , a 1952 graduate of Dartmouth and a 1953 graduate of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, who is Vice Chairman of Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. in New York City. A member of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1996, he served as its chair from 1993 to 1996. In 2000 The New York Times named him philanthropist of the year for New York City.

Commencement Weekend will include a public reception for the honorary degree recipients from 5-6 p.m. Saturday, June 8, in the main corridor of Baker Library.

Saturday, June 8: Speakers for Dartmouth professional schools' Class Day and Investiture ceremonies and for undergraduate Baccalaureate Service

A variety of ceremonies take place the day before Commencement, including Class Day and Investiture ceremonies for Dartmouth's three professional schools, and undergraduate baccalaureate services. Those events and their speakers are:

Dartmouth Medical School: Vermont Governor Howard Dean. 9 a.m., Derzon Courtyard at DMS (front lawn). (Rain location and time: Leede Arena, 11:30 a.m.)

Thayer School of Engineering: Jeffrey Immelt, a 1978 graduate of Dartmouth who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric Co. 10 a.m., Cook Auditorium.

Tuck School of Business: Peter R. Dolan, a 1980 graduate of the Tuck School who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. 3 p.m., Tuck Circle. (Rain location: Leede Arena).

Baccalaureate Service: The Very Rev. Nathan D. Baxter, Dean of Washington National Cathedral. 3 p.m., Rollins Chapel.

Fred Rogers
Commencement speaker; will receive honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters

Fred McFeely Rogers is best known as "Mister Rogers," creator, host, composer and puppeteer for the longest-running program on PBS, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

His journey to the "Neighborhood" began in 1950, during his senior year at Rollins College, when he became intrigued by the potential of children's television. After graduation, he headed to NBC as an assistant producer for The Kate Smith Hour and The Voice of Firestone. He married Joanne Byrd, a pianist and fellow Rollins graduate, in 1952. (Rogers attended Dartmouth his first two years of college, 1946-48, before transferring to Rollins to study in the music program there.)

Returning to his hometown area of western Pennsylvania in 1953, he helped found Pittsburgh's public television station, WQED, and co-produced an hour live daily children's program, The Children's Corner, for which he also worked behind-the-scenes as puppeteer and musician. Several regulars of today's Mister Rogers' Neighborhood made their first appearances on The Children's Corner - among them, Daniel Striped Tiger, King Friday XIII, X the Owl, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde.

To broaden his background for children's television, Fred Rogers studied at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development. He also completed a Master of Divinity degree at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963 with a unique charge of serving children and families through the media.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood made its national debut on public television in 1968. Since then, the series has been recognized internationally as a unique and pioneering effort to communicate with young children about things that matter in childhood. TV Guide says "...Mister Rogers' Neighborhood makes us, young and old alike, feel safe, cared for, and valued...wherever Mister Rogers is, so is sanctuary." Fred Rogers has received virtually every major award in television and education, and has received honorary degrees from more than 40 colleges and universities.

Fred Rogers is the Chairman of the Board of Family Communications Inc., the nonprofit company that he formed in 1971 to produce Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The company has since diversified into non-broadcast materials that reflect the same philosophy and purpose: to encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families.

Marilyn Hughes Gaston, M.D.
Doctor of Science

Dr. Marilyn H. Gaston, former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and the first African-American woman to direct a public health service bureau, has dedicated her professional career to improving the health of poor and minority families in the U.S. and abroad. Through delivering quality primary health care, providing medical education to young clinicians in training, being involved in clinical research, and administering local and federal programs dedicated to the underserved, she strives to achieve her goal of quality, culturally competent care for everyone.

Gaston is the second African-American woman to achieve the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. As Director of the Bureau of Primary Health Care in Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Gaston was responsible for a budget of $5 billion serving 12 million poor, underserved and disadvantaged people.

Prior to her appointment as Bureau Director, her work at the National Institutes of Health improved the treatment of children with sickle cell disease, resulting in significantly decreased morbidity and mortality in young children around the world, for which she is internationally recognized.

Dr. Gaston is a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, has received an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and recently received the National Medical Association Scroll of Merit and their Lifetime Achievement Award. She has received numerous awards from Public Health Service, the American Medical Association's Dr. Nathan Davis Award and is honored yearly on Marilyn Hughes Gaston Day in the cities of Lincoln Heights and Cincinnati, Ohio, where there is also a Buford-Gaston building in her name. The University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has named a yearly scholarship for two underprivileged and minority first-year students to receive full, four-year medical school scholarships in her honor.

Gaston is the co-author of the book Prime Time: The African American Women's Complete Guide to Midlife Health and Wellness published by Random House.

Yuan-Tseh Lee
(Doctor of Science)

Yuan-Tseh Lee received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986 for his contributions to the field of chemical reaction dynamics. (He was a co-winner of the prize with Dr. Dudley Herschbach of Harvard University and Dr. John Polyani of the University of Toronto.) Today, he is the president of Academia Sinica, the highest government-sponsored academic research institution in Taiwan.

Born in 1936 in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Lee's early school years were disrupted by World War II. It was not until the Japanese returned Taiwan to China that Lee was able to resume his formal education. An energetic child, he was a member of the baseball, tennis and ping-pong teams, and he played trombone in the school band. He also was an avid reader who was drawn to science by a biography of Madame Curie.

In 1955, his excellent academic record allowed Lee to enroll at the National Taiwan University without taking the entrance exam. After graduation, he earned his master's degree at the National Tsinghua University. He then entered the doctoral program at the University of California at Berkeley, receiving his degree in 1965.

During his graduate study, Lee became interested in ion-molecule reactions and the dynamics of molecular scattering. In 1967, he joined Dr. Dudley Herschbach and his group at Harvard University as a research fellow. Herschbach's lab was a leader in the crossed molecular beam technique, in which beams of molecules are brought together at supersonic speeds under controlled conditions to study chemical reactions. Lee subsequently extended this technique to enable study of larger and more complex molecules. His academic career at the University of Chicago and at Berkeley significantly advanced his research, allowing him to carry out numerous pioneering experiments with his students. In 1994, he retired from the University of California to become president at Academia Sinica.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Lee's awards and honors include the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1986, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ernest O. Lawrence Award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society's Peter Debye Award of Physical Chemistry and the Clark Kerr Medal from the University of California. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the U.S. Academy of Sciences, Indian Academy of Sciences, Korean Academy of Science and Technology, and a member of the Third World Academy of Science.

Gerda Lerner
(Doctor of Letters)

Women's studies pioneer Gerda Lerner was born into a well-to-do Viennese Jewish family in 1920. As a teenager, she witnessed the Nazis' rise to power and became involved in the underground resistance movement. After being imprisoned and forced into exile, she came to the United States in 1939. She became a U.S. citizen in 1943, and married Carl Lerner, with whom she had two children.

In 1958 Gerda Lerner returned to college, graduating with a Ph.D. from New York's Columbia University in 1966. She became a preeminent scholar recognized as a pioneer in the field of women's history. In 1972, Lerner founded the first U.S. graduate program in women's history at Sarah Lawrence College, where she taught from 1968-1980. She was the Robinson-Edwards Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1980-1991, during which time she also founded the university's Ph.D. program in women's history. Lerner has been a Professor Emerita since 1991. Over the years, she has also been a visiting professor at Duke University.

The author of a dozen books, Lerner's books on history include Black Women in White America: A Documentary History (1972), The Creation of Patriarchy (1986), The Creation of Feminist Consciousness (1993) and her 1997 best seller, Why History Matters. Her autobiography, Fireweed, was published in April 2002.

Lerner's many awards include the 2002 Bruce Catton Prize from the Society of American Historians and the 2002 Distinguished Service Award from the Organization of American Historians (OAH). In 1992, the OAH also honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarly Distinction. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1998 and was named a senior distinguished research professor by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Research Foundation in 1984. Over the years, Lerner has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Lilly Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others.

Arthur Mitchell
(Doctor of Arts)

Arthur Mitchell, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, is known internationally as an educator, choreographer and dancer. Born in 1934, Mitchell began his dance training at New York City's High School for the Performing Arts. Upon graduation, he received a scholarship to attend the School of American Ballet. Mitchell made history in 1955 as the first African-American male dancer to become a permanent member of a major ballet company when he joined the New York City Ballet.

Mitchell quickly rose to the position of principal dancer. In his 15 years with the company, he electrified audiences with performances ranging from the neoclassical style of Agon to the lighthearted role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, roles choreographed especially for him by George Balanchine. Mitchell also has performed in films, on TV, and for nightclub and Broadway shows.

In 1968, upon learning of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mitchell was determined to provide children in Harlem, where he grew up, with the kinds of opportunities he had been given. In 1969, with financial assistance from the Ford Foundation, Mitchell and Karel Shook (his teacher and mentor) founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem as a school of the allied arts and professional ballet company. Now 33 years old, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into an institution of world renown.

Among the honors and awards conferred on Mitchell are the 1997 Americans for the Arts' Arts in Education Award; the 1995 National Medal of Arts, the highest honor awarded by the U.S. President in the arts and humanities; the coveted MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; the School of American Ballet Lifetime Achievement Award; and the 1994 Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1993, Mitchell became one of the youngest recipients of the Kennedy Center Honor , celebrating "an extraordinary lifetime of contributions to American culture through the performing arts."

Mitchell is a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts. He was inducted into the NAACP's Image Awards Hall of Fame and, in 1999, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga, N.Y.

Evelyn Stefansson Nef
(Doctor of Humane Letters)

Writer, polar researcher, psychotherapist and philanthropist Evelyn Stefansson Nef was born in New York City in 1913. Her diverse career began when, as a young woman, she used her art training to create marionettes, museum dioramas and World's Fair exhibits. She was also an accomplished puppeteer.

In 1939, she began working for the Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson. They married in 1941, and, until his death in 1962, she worked with him as researcher, special assistant and librarian of his polar library, travelling extensively in Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Hudson Bay, Siberia, the Polar Sea and the Antarctic. In 1951 she moved 25,000 books and 40,000 reprints to Dartmouth College, continuing as librarian of what became the Stefansson Collection in Dartmouth's Baker Library. She remained active in the Polar Studies Program and for two years taught the Arctic Seminar. Her first book, Here is Alaska, was a bestseller that continued in print through four editions for 45 years. She was editor-in-chief of The Great Explorer Series of books on the exploration of the world for Delacorte Press and reviewed polar books for The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune.

Following Stefansson's death, Evelyn married historian John Ulric Nef, founder of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought, in 1964. At age 60, she went back to school and became a psychotherapist with a special interest in psychosomatic illnesses. Her autobiography, Finding My Way: The Autobiography of an Optimist, was published in Icelandic in November 2001 and will be published in English by Francis Press in May 2002.

Nef has served on the boards of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Paget Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children and the International Longevity Center, among others. A long-time member of the Society of Women Geographers, she was national president from 1969-71. She is president of the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation and is on the Advisory Council of the Gerontology Department of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She previously received honorary degrees from the University of Alaska and The Corcoran School of Art. Nef was awarded the Icelandic Order of the Falcon in 2001.

E. John Rosenwald Jr.
(Doctor of Laws)

E. John Rosenwald Jr. has been an active member of the Dartmouth community for more than fifty years. A 1952 Dartmouth graduate, he earned his MBA from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business in 1953. Rosenwald was a member of Dartmouth's Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1996, serving as its chair from 1993 to 1996. He also chaired Dartmouth's successful "Will to Excel" capital campaign launched in 1991.

In 1954, Rosenwald began his career at The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., an investment banking firm in New York. He was elected a General Partner of the firm in 1962 and shortly thereafter was elected to The Bear Stearns Executive Committee. When the company went public in 1985, Rosenwald was elected a Member of the Office of the President, then later as Vice Chairman of The Bear Stearns Companies Inc. in 1988.

Through his work as a philanthropist, Rosenwald has raised nearly $2.3 billion, chairing or co-chairing capital campaigns for organizations such as the New York University Medical Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Environmental Defense Fund -- and Dartmouth. The New York Times named him "Philanthropist of the Year" for New York City in 2000. In addition to helping to raise money, Rosenwald is a prodigious contributor himself, having endowed a Dartmouth professorship and funded the construction of a chemistry lab and Tuck School classroom among numerous other gifts.

Rosenwald is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He sits on the board of many non-profit organizations, including Carnegie Hall, the Central Park Conservancy, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mount Sinai NYU Health, the National Organization on Disability, New York University and the New York University School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be honoring Rosenwald at its 2002 Corporate Benefit in May. Rosenwald also serves on the board of directors of Hasbro Inc.

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