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Honorary Degree Recipients Announced for Commencement 2014

Each year, at Commencement, Haverford College awards honorary degrees to men and women who have distinguished themselves in letters, the sciences, or the arts, or who have devoted their lives to service and the betterment of humanity.  At this year's May 18 Commencement ceremony, the College will award honorary degrees to poet Elizabeth Alexander, physicist and educator Robert J. Birgeneau, higher education leader William G. Bowen, and environmentalist Fred Krupp.

Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet and scholar of African American culture. Her book of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2005.  Alexander’s other works include The Venus HottentotBody of LifeAntebellum Dream Book and The Black Interior, a collection of essays on African American culture.  In 2008, Alexander was selected to compose and then recite her poem, “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  She is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship “for work that contributes to improving race relations in American Society. Alexander is the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies & Professor of American Studies and English at Yale University.

William G. Bowen

William G. Bowen is one of the nation’s leading figures in higher education. The former president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University, Bowen is the author of over 20 books on higher education and the recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal.  Bowen’s career in academia began at Princeton, where he taught economics.  He served as Princeton’s provost until 1972 when he became president.  From 1988 to 2006, Bowen served as the President of the Mellon Foundation.  Under his leadership the Foundation’s activities increased dramatically with attention to research doctoral education, collegiate admissions, independent research libraries, and charitable nonprofits.  Bowen’s interest in technology and scholarship led to the creation of JSTOR, ARTstor, and Ithaka Harbors, Inc. on whose board he currently serves.

Fred Krupp

Through his innovative work in using market forces to advance environmental goals, Fred Krupp has become a leading advocate for environmental protection.  Over his 29 years of leadership of the Environmental Defense Fund, that organization has grown from a small nonprofit to an international leader in environmental advocacy.  Krupp’s strategic partnership with major companies has led to the removal of millions of pounds of packing waste and the improvement of energy efficiency across the global retail supply chain, and to the creation the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which calls for stricter limits on global warming pollution. Krupp’s market-based acid rain reduction plan was included in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the U.S. proposal to achieve least-cost greenhouse gas reductions in the Kyoto Protocol. Krupp has been called on by the federal government under Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama to advise on numerous environmental issues from shale gas production to trade policy.


Dr. Robert Birgeneau, who was to be our fourth speaker this year, has declined our invitation to come to campus and receive an honorary degree. President Daniel H. Weiss shared news of this with the Haverford community via email on May 13.

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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