Honorary degree recipients for commencement announced

Six leaders from the worlds of art, science, law and government, philanthropy and higher education will receive honorary degrees at Williams College’s 211th Commencement.

President of the College Carl W. Vogt will confer the degrees Sunday, June 4, at 10 a.m. on West College Lawn. The Honorable George J. Mitchell will give the principal address. On Saturday, June 3, President Vogt will give the Baccalaureate address.

Receiving honorary degrees will be Jenny Holzer, Doctor of Fine Arts; Anna Faith Jones, Doctor of Humane Letters; Mathilde Krim, Doctor of Science; George J. Mitchell, Doctor of Laws; Morton Owen Schapiro, Doctor of Laws and Carl W. Vogt, Doctor of Laws.

Jenny Holzer

Art

After completing a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Ohio University, Holzer studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she first began her work with language, installation and public art. It was in 1976-77, she has said, that the painting component of her art was completely superseded by the textual.

“I figured I was reasonably well educated and I loved all the great thoughts on Western culture,” she told John Howell, who interviewed her for ARTnews (Summer 1988), “but if I couldn’t plow through, certainly a lot of other people couldn’t either. So I thought maybe I could translate these things into a language that was accessible.”

Beginning with her first series of public art texts, “Truisms,” which she displayed on posters throughout New York City, her one-line statements, such as “abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “there is a fine line between information and propaganda,” were meant to be provocative and elicit public debate.

Since then, her work has been exhibited in public spaces such as signboards overlooking Times Square, Candlestick Park in San Francisco and Caesar’s Palace gambling resort in Las Vegas, and in more traditional settings, such as the Guggenheim Museum; Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Modern Art; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1990, she became the first woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale international exhibition, where she won the Leone d’Oro grand prize for the best pavilion.

“My predecessors,” she told Bruce Ferguson for Art in America (December 1986) “ include everyone from the conceptualists to the dadaists and even some utopian social theorists who advocated that things be made usable, enjoyable and comprehensible to anyone.”

She lives and works in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

Anna Faith Jones

Philanthropy

Jones is president and chief executive officer of the Boston Foundation, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country. Jones joined the foundation in 1974, serving first as assistant director and later as associate director. She was named president in 1985. As president, she oversees an endowment of more than $620 million and over $34 million in annual grant distributions to nonprofit organizations that provide a wide range of services to the Greater Boston community.

Under her leadership, the foundation developed multi-year initiatives designed to promote new strategies to break the cycle of urban poverty. Recently, the foundation launched its Fund for Arts and Culture to create a permanent source of funding for arts in Boston.

A native of Washington, D.C., Jones was one of five children of Mordecai Johnson, the first African American president of Howard University.

She credits her father with leading her to achievement: “Often through the years, you would find yourself in the car with him alone and he would hone in on some issue. One was ‘You must prepare yourself to walk through the doors. It isn’t going to be easy. It may be painful, certainly for the first ones. But we have to prepare ourselves to do that. If the doors open and nobody walks through them, then they swing shut. And all of your fight has been for naught.’”

She received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. in musicology from Columbia University.

Jones is a member of the Advisory Committee on Public Charities of the Office of the Attorney General and a member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Civic League. She was the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ honoree in 1994 and received the Wellesley Alumni Achievement Award that same year.

Mathilde Krim

Science and Philanthropy

Dr. Krim was founding co-chair and is now chair of the board of the American Foundation for Aids Research (AMFAR), which has become the preeminent, national nonprofit organization devoted to mobilizing the public’s generosity in support of laboratory and clinical AIDS research, AIDS prevention and the development of sound AIDS-related public policy.

Krim received her B. S. and her Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. From 1953 to 1959, she pursued research in cytogenetics and cancer-causing viruses at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where she was a member of the team that first developed a method for the prenatal determination of sex.

She joined the research staff of Cornell University Medical School in 1958 following her marriage to the late Arthur B. Krim, chairman of United Artists Motion Picture Company and later founder of Orion Pictures.

In 1962, she became a research scientist at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and, from 1981 to 1985, she directed its Interferon Laboratory.

She became personally active in AIDS research through her work on the effectiveness of interferon in treating Karposi’s sarcoma, a cancer that afflicted many AIDS patients. As she learned more about AIDS, Krim became “incensed” that so many young people were dying and concluded that public funding for research aimed at prevention was inadequate. In building the foundation, Krim was able to use to its advantage not only of her professional reputation as a prominent scientist, but also her social position as the wife of an entertainment industry executive.

She holds the academic appointment of adjunct professor of public health and management, School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Morton Owen Schapiro

Higher Education

Schapiro is professor of economics; dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and vice president for planning at the University of Southern California. On July 1, he becomes Williams College’s 16th president.

“Not only an excellent scholar, a fine teacher and an accomplished administrator, he is also a person with fine values who understands so well why education matters,” said William G. Bowen, president of the Mellon Foundation.

Schapiro is among the nation’s premier authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in the area of college financing and affordability and on trends in educational costs and student aid. He is frequently asked to testify before committees of the United States House and Senate.

In support of his studies of the economics of higher education, he has received research grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the World Bank, the Spencer Foundation, the College Board, the Organization for Economic Co operation and Development and other agencies.

He is the author or co-author of more than 50 articles and five books, including The Student Aid Game: Meeting Need and Rewarding Talent in American Higher Education; Paying the Piper: Productivity, Incentives and Financing in Higher Education; Keeping College Affordable: Government and Educational Opportunity and Selective Admission and the Public Interest.

He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Hofstra University and his doctorate in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1980, he joined the economics department at Williams, becoming an associate professor in 1987 and full professor in 1990. He served as assistant provost at Williams from 1986 to 1989. He co-directed the Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education from 1989 to 1996 and currently is co-director of the Macalester Forum on Higher Education.

Carl W. Vogt

Law and Government

Vogt has served this past academic year as president of Williams College. He is a senior partner resident in the Washington office of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.

His practice primarily involves general civil litigation in federal and state courts; alternative dispute resolution and employment, aviation, and administrative law. His commercial litigation practice has ranged from cases involving copyrights to the defective manufacture of aircraft components.

His extensive experience in higher education includes representing Duke University for 25 years and serving on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. He also has represented the American Council on Education, the American College Testing Service, the Council for International Exchanger of Scholars (Fulbright scholarships), the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Law Schools and the American Council of Learned Societies.

He was appointed by President Bush to serve as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from June, 1992 to Nov. 1994.

The Safety Board is an independent federal agency that determines the causes of major transportation accidents (aviation, rail, maritime, highway and gas pipeline) and makes safety improvement recommendations to industry and to federal and state regulatory agencies and legislatures. He returned to Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. in 1994.

President Bush also appointed him, in 1991, to a four-year term on the board of directors of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AmTrak). He also has served as a member of the Aviation System Capacity Advisory Committee and of the FAA Ninety Day Safety Review Committee.

In 1996, President Clinton appointed him to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security to provide recommendations concerning airplane safety in the wake of the crash of TWA Flight 800. He is a trustee of Williams and chairman of the American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law. He has also served on the executive board of trustees of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

Vogt graduated from Williams in 1958 and served as a Marine fighter pilot before earning his law degree from the University of Texas Law School, Austin, Texas in 1965.