Williams honors Bicentennial Medal winners

Williams College President Carl W. Vogt presented five of the college’s Bicentennial Medals at a private ceremony April 7. Established in 1993 on the occasion of the college’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor.

Honored were David W. Battey, founder of the Youth Volunteer Corps of America; Richard McG. Helms, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; George A. Hyde Jr., pediatric surgeon; Margaret D. Lowman, biologist; and Steven Rogers, entrepreneur

Williams awarded 23 Bicentennial Medals in 1993 and has added five to seven in each year since.

David Battey

David Battey turned his senior thesis at Williams on political economy into an international program of youth volunteers. Within two years of graduating in 1985, he had volunteers at work in his hometown of Kansas City. The Youth Volunteer Corps now has 55 chapters across the U.S. and Canada through which diverse groups of 11 to 18-year-olds work together to address community needs. In doing so, they also learn skills in decision making, cooperation, and communication, and develop a lifelong ethic of service.

Last year more than 40,000 volunteers performed over 500,000 hours of service. Both Business Week and the New York Times have held up YVC as a model of civic education.

Richard Helms

Richard Helms, a member of the Class of 1935, helped fashion America’s intelligence operations over his 30-year career. He began with the Office of Strategic Services in World War II and joined the Central Intelligence Agency when it formed in 1947. He rose through its ranks to become chief of operations in 1953 and the agency’s first professional director in 1966. The New York Times dubbed him “one of the most respected men in Washington.” He has been awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the William J. Donovan Medal and the National Security Medal. The citation for the last of these described his career as “typified by brilliance, exceptional motivation and keen administrative ability.” He also served as ambassador to Iran from 1973 to 1977.

George Hyde

George Hyde was chief of medical staff at the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco and associate clinical professor of surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, with a thriving private practice and string of medical publications, when he and his pediatrician wife, June, decided to apply their experience overseas. After two years in Kenya, they settled in Harare, where he became senior lecturer in surgery at the University of Zimbabwe. He established there the country’s first pediatric surgery unit. While operating on children drawn from three-quarters of the country, he developed practices and procedures to fit the limited resources available and trained two local surgeons. He continued this work as a volunteer. The hospital’s child mortality rate dropped dramatically and it now has a self-sustaining unit that can continue to train local pediatric surgeons to carry on the work. Hyde graduated from Williams in 1949.

Margaret Lowman

Since graduation from Williams in 1976, Margaret Lowman has become known as a pioneer in the study of tree conservation and regeneration. Her breakthroughs have resulted from the study of tree canopies, where more than half the world’s plants and animals reside. She has used dirigibles, ropes, cranes, hot air balloons, harnesses, and walkways to ascend 70 feet or more to tree canopies around the world. While a visiting professor at Williams in the early nineties, she constructed in Hopkins Forest the first tree canopy walkway in North America and discovered a string of surprises, including the presence of southern flying squirrels, voles, and porcupines and the dramatic effects of acid rain. She is credited with discovering the causes of the eucalyptus dieback syndrome that had destroyed millions of trees in Australia. She has conducted by satellite more than 60 live classes with children around the world from the rain forest canopy in Belize. Currently executive director of Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Fla., she is the author of more than 70 articles and three books, including her highly acclaimed autobiography, Life in the Treetops.

Steven Rogers

Steven Rogers, Class of 1979, has taught entrepreneurial finance at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University since 1993 and been named to the Faculty Honor Roll every quarter. He has also won the school’s Outstanding Professor of the Year Award. Business Week named him one of the top professors of entrepreneurship in America and one of 14 “New Stars of Finance.” Ernst and Young selected him as Entrepreneur of the Year.

As entrepreneur-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation, he uses business development as a tool to help people become self-sufficient and build healthy communities. He also helped found The Runners’ Club, which uses training, mentoring, and access to capital to increase the number of large-scale African-American-owned companies across the country. A graduate of Harvard Business School, he worked at Bain and Company and then bought three companies before joining the Kellogg faculty.