Commencement

Speakers and Award Recipients 2017

Speakers and Award Recipients 2017

Commencement Speaker

Commencement Speaker

Darren Walker

Darren Walker

Honorary Doctor of Humanities

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, the nation’s second-largest philanthropy. For two decades, he has been a leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. He led the philanthropy committee that helped bring a resolution to the city of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, and he chairs the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. Prior to joining Ford, he was vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he managed the rebuild New Orleans initiative after Hurricane Katrina.

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Baccalaureate Speaker


Baccalaureate Speaker

Jill Jacobs

Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Baccalaureate Speaker

The annual Multifaith Baccalaureate Service will be 1:30 p.m., on May 21 in Finney Chapel with guest speaker Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, an organization that mobilizes 1,800 rabbis and cantors and tens of thousands of American Jews to protect human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories. She will speak on the topic, “From Private Conviction to Public Action.”

Widely regarded as a leading voice on Jewish social justice, Rabbi Jacobs regularly lectures at synagogues, Jewish community centers, and conferences and has written about Jewish perspectives on social justice and human rights for more than two dozen publications.

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Honorary Degree Recipients



Honorary Degree Recipients

Brenda Way

Brenda Way

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts

Brenda Way received her early training at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City. Way launched Oberlin Dance Collective as a professional company while on faculty at Oberlin College and contributed to the creation of an inter-arts department that included faculty from both the College and Conservatory of Music before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976. She is the founder and artistic director of ODC/Dance and creator of the ODC Theater and ODC Dance Commons, community performance and training venues in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

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Rosemary Ahtuangaruak

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak

Honorary Doctor of Humanities

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, an Inupiaq activist, works as environmental manager for the Alaska Native Village of Nuiqsut. A mother and grandmother, Ahtuangaruak has been a community health aide/physician assistant, emergency responder, tribal and city council member, and a participant with the National Tribal Think Tank with CDC/APHA. She’s also been a member of the North Slope Regional Advisory Committee for the federal subsistence board, and a member of the working group of the RISING SUN Arctic Council study of suicide prevention. 


Eddie Daniels

Eddie Daniels

Honorary Doctor of Music

Eddie Daniels is that rarest of rare musicians who is not only equally at home in both jazz and classical music, but excels at both with breathtaking virtuosity. Expert testimony from the jazz world comes from eminent jazz critic Leonard Feather, who said of Daniels, “It is a rare event in jazz where one man can all but reinvent an instrument bringing it to a new stage of revolution.” From the classical side, Leonard Bernstein said, “Eddie Daniels combines elegance and virtuosity in a way that makes me remember Arthur Rubenstein. He is a thoroughly well-bred demon.”

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Lonnie Bunch

Lonnie Bunch

Honorary Doctor of Humanities

Lonnie G. Bunch III is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture. Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society (2001-2005) and held several positions at the Smithsonian, including associate director for curatorial affairs (1994-2000) and supervising curator at the National Museum of American History (1989-1992).

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Community Service Award

Community Service Award

Three award recipients

Benjamin K. Ezinga ’01
Joshua A. Rosen ’01
Naomi M. Sabel ’02

Upon graduation, Josh Rosen '01, Ben Ezinga '01, and Naomi Sabel '02 formed Sustainable Community Associates, a community development firm designed to invigorate main streets and urban neighborhoods in a socially responsible and sustainable way. Defying the "failure to launch" moniker, they chose an abandoned site in downtown Oberlin as their first endeavor, and the results for East College Street are tangible. Today, their development hosts new businesses and mixed-income housing, providing both an expanded tax base and increased opportunities for Oberlin residents.

Read more about the Community Service Award recipients »