Bowdoin College will award four honorary degrees at its 209th Commencement exercises Saturday, May 24, 2014. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on the Quad in front of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
Honorary degrees will be awarded to a civil rights advocate, a career diplomat, and two renowned scientists in the fields of ornithology and physiology.
Mary L. Bonauto has been the civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in Boston since 1990. For more than 20 years she has been committed to ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and she is a central figure in building the legal framework for marriage equality in the U.S. A native of Newburgh, New York, and a graduate of Hamilton College in 1983 and Northeastern University School of Law in 1987, Bonauto began her legal career at a small law firm in Maine. At GLAD she was co-counsel for the landmark decision by the Vermont Supreme Court to allow same-sex civil unions. She has been a clear and steady voice for ending discrimination in marriage, despite occasional disappointments and setbacks over the past decade. Largely through her long-term strategic view of the legal landscape, her legal skill and her perseverance, Bonauto accounts for many of the recent victories at the ballot box, in state and federal courts, and in state legislatures on the issue of marriage equality.
Ambassador Christopher R. Hill ’74 is currently the dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Relations at the University of Denver. After his graduation from Bowdoin, he served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon for two years. He joined the U.S. State Department in 1977. Hill is a career diplomat, having been nominated as ambassador four times by three presidents. Among his posts are special assistant to the president and a senior director on the staff of the National Security Council, special envoy to Kosovo, ambassador to Macedonia, ambassador to Poland, ambassador to the Republic of Korea (where he led the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program), and ambassador to Iraq. Hill is one of the most accomplished and experienced U.S. diplomats of his generation, having been posted in global “hot spots” where the stakes were especially high. He received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award for his work on Bosnia, and in 2003, he was awarded Bowdoin’s Gordon S. Hargraves ’19 Preservation of Freedom Prize.
Richard O. Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, curator of ornithology, and head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Peabody Museum at Yale University. He earned an A.B. from Harvard in 1982 and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1989. From 1991 to 2003, he was a member of the faculty of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. His research contributions are extensive, ranging from the evolution of feathers to coloration that arises from the physical properties of nanometer-scale biological structures. The description of his research for his 2009 MacArthur Foundation Award says, in part, “Whatever the phenomenon under study, Prum habitually synthesizes concepts from disparate fields and follows surprising paths to reach carefully reasoned conclusions. His research to date raises the profile of ornithological studies in several fundamental aspects of biology, and he continues to open new frontiers with each subsequent project.” Dr. Prum is the director of the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities at Yale, a new initiative that encourages collaborative teaching and research across diverse disciplines.
Dr. Harriet Wallberg is a professor of physiology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, one of the world’s premier medical research facilities. From 2004 to 2012, she was the president of and the first woman to lead the Institute. She is a member of the Nobel Assembly that selects the Nobel Laureates each year in physiology and medicine. She began her medical career in the 1970s and earned medical and doctoral degrees from the Karolinska Institutet. Dr. Wallberg is a pioneer in the field of research on the link between physiology and diabetes. She has served as Secretary General of the Swedish Medical Research Council and as a member of the International Science and Technology Forum, the International Scientific Advisory Council to the government of Singapore, the Swedish Government’s Globalization Council, and the Delegation for Clinical Research at the Swedish Ministry of Health. Among her many honors is the King of Sweden’s Gold Medal for distinguished achievement in medical education and research.