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Honorary Degree Recipients Announced for Commencement 2013

Each year Haverford College awards honorary degrees to men and women who have distinguished themselves in letters, the sciences, or the arts. Many recipients are noted for their contributions to the overall betterment of humankind and/or Haverford College. At this year's May 19 Commencement ceremony, the College will award honorary degrees to AIDS researcher Max Essex, documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, President of the Association of American Universities Hunter Rawlings ‘66, and women's leadership and advancement advocate Sheila Wellington.

Max Essex

Max Essex is a leading figure in the study of HIV and AIDS.  In 1982, along with Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier, Essex hypothesized that AIDS was caused by a retrovirus, for which the three were awarded the 1986 Lasker Award, the highest U.S. honor for medical research. Over the course of his career, Essex has helped establish a greater understanding of the roots and properties of HIV and AIDS, with implications for work on vaccine design, disease pathogenesis, drug efficacy, and transmission efficiency. Since 1990, Essex has dedicated himself to the study of HIV in developing countries, especially Thailand, Senegal, Tanzania, and Botswana. His more recent research has focused on the use of antiretroviral drugs for chemoprophylaxis to prevent mother-to-infant transmission and for the treatment of clinical AIDS. A prolific researcher and writer, Essex is the Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences at Harvard University, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, and chair of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute.

Stanley Nelson

Stanley Nelson is one of today’s most accomplished and respected documentary filmmakers. In 2003, his film The Murder of Emmett Till resulted in the U.S. Justice Department reopening the investigation of the 1955 death of a 14-year-old black boy, murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The film, broadcast nationally on PBS’s American Experience, won the esteemed George Foster Peabody Award and Sundance’s Special Jury Prize, and it earned Nelson a Primetime Emmy for Best Directing, Nonfiction. Among Nelson’s other acclaimed works are the films Freedom Riders (2011), Wounded Knee (2009), Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice (2005), and Two Dollars and A Dream: The Story of Madame C. J. Walker and A’lelia Walker (1989). Nelson was named a MacArthur “genius” fellow in 2002 and is currently the Executive Director of Firelight Media, which provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians.

Hunter Rawlings ‘66

Hunter Rawlings ‘66 is one of the nation’s most prominent spokespeople for higher education. The past president of two preeminent academic institutions—the University of Iowa and Cornell University—Rawlings is now president of the Association of American Universities. Rawlings began his academic career teaching classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he later rose to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs for the University of Colorado system. As president of the University of Iowa from 1988 to 1995, he contributed to significant research enhancements, particularly in the sciences and medicine. As president of Cornell from 1995 through 2003, and again as interim president in 2005-2006, Rawlings led a range of efforts to strengthen undergraduate education, as well as scientific research through projects such as the Cornell Genomics Initiative and New Life Sciences Initiative. Rawlings also presided over the launch of the new branch of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. In addition to graduating with honors in classics at Haverford, Rawlings was also a two-sport athlete, anchoring a strong varsity basketball program and compiling a career 2.18 earned run average on the mound for the Fords. He served on Haverford’s Board of Managers from 2000 to 2012.

Sheila Wellington

An expert on women’s leadership, Sheila Wellington has engaged in advocacy for women’s career advancement as a researcher, writer, and practitioner. From 1993 to 2003, Wellington was President of Catalyst, a non-profit organization devoted to identifying barriers and creating opportunities for women in the private sector. Under her leadership, Catalyst engaged in critical work around work-life balance, business education, women on corporate boards, women of color in business, and women in entrepreneurship. Catalyst now stands as one of the world’s preeminent organizations in advancing women’s leadership. Prior to Catalyst, Ms. Wellington served for six years as Secretary of Yale University. Previously, she worked in the public health arena for more than 20 years, serving on the faculty of Yale Medical School and as director of two major mental health facilities. Wellington is author of the book Be Your Own Mentor and is now Executive in Residence at NYU’s Stern School of Business.


The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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