Honorary Degree Recipients Announced for Commencement 2017
At this year's ceremony, on Saturday, May 13, the College will award honorary degrees to writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and environmentalist entrepreneur Yvon Chouinard.
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 13 ceremony, the College will award honorary degrees to acclaimed writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the most prominent African writers of her generation. Her Purple Hibiscus (2003) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for first work. Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) won the Orange Prize, the world’s top prize for female writers. Americanah(2013) received numerous accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of the Year. Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017. Adichie’s work has been translated into over 30 languages.
At age 19, Adichie left her native Nigeria for the United States, first to Philadelphia and Drexel University to begin her undergraduate work, which she then completed at Eastern Connecticut State University. She went on to earn a master's in creative writing from Johns Hopkins, followed by a master's in African Studies from Yale. Adichie’s prodigious writing earned her fellowships at Princeton and Harvard as well as a MacArthur Genius Award. An internationally renowned speaker, Adichie’s TED talks, including 2012’s notable "We Should All Be Feminists," are among the most-viewed of all time.
Yvon Chouinard is an American environmentalist and entrepreneur. A pioneering rock climber and lifelong outdoorsman, Chouinard forged a career promoting active and responsible human engagement with the natural world.
Chouinard’s early ventures included selling climbing gear that he designed and produced himself to advance the techniques of “clean climbing” that avoid damage to rock faces. In 1973, Chouinard founded the company Patagonia. Infused with Chouinard’s passions and ethical commitments, Patagonia has emerged as a distinctively ethically attuned business with a mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Since 1986, Patagonia has “tithed” a portion of its annual revenues to environmental groups. The company has been a leader in pursuing ethical sourcing within its supply chain and is an outspoken corporate voice for environmental responsibility. In 2014, Patagonia supported the documentary film DamNation, which explored the costs and benefits of America’s dams as well as people’s changing relationships with them.
An outspoken advocate for corporate and environmental responsibility in his own right, Chouinard has written about adventure sports and ethics, and the integration of environmentalism and business, including the books Let my People Go Surfing (1988) and The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years (2012).