News & Media



CARE USA President to Give 2011 Commencement Address

Mar 15, 2011

OBERLIN, OH — Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of international humanitarian organization CARE USA, will receive an honorary doctorate of science and present the 2011 Commencement Address on Monday, May 30.

The 178th Commencement/Reunion Weekend will be held Friday, May 27, through Monday, May 30.

Also receiving honorary degrees are Stephen Clapp ’61, dean emeritus of the Juilliard School; Martin Harwit ’51, astrophysicist and professor emeritus of astronomy at Cornell University; Sidney Mintz, world-renowned food anthropologist and professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University; and Bernice Reagon, founder of women’s a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock.

The college will present the Distinguished Service Award to James W. White, who served many years as Oberlin’s director of financial aid; and the Alumni Medal, awarded posthumously to jazz musician and composer Wendell Logan, who was chair of the jazz studies department in the Conservatory of Music.

The following honorary degrees will be conferred:

Helene D. Gayle - Doctorate of Science

Helene D. Gayle is president and CEO of CARE USA, a leading international humanitarian organization with programs in nearly 70 countries to end poverty. An expert on health, global development, and humanitarian issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. Gayle has also worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. She has been named one of Foreign Policy magazine's "Top 100 Global Thinkers," Newsweek's top 10 "Women in Leadership," and the Wall Street Journal's "50 Women to Watch."

Martin Harwit ’51 - Doctorate of Science

Martin Harwit ’51 is an astrophysicist and professor emeritus of astronomy at Cornell University. As director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, he launched exhibits that explored the impact of aerospace technology on society. Harwit is currently a member of the science team of the Herschel Space Observatory. He has authored several books, including a widely used textbook on astrophysics and an overview of the history of astrophysics.

Sidney Mintz - Doctorate of Science

Sidney Mintz is a world-renowned food anthropologist and professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University. Mintz came to Johns Hopkins in 1975 and helped establish the department of anthropology. Prior to that, he was a member of the Yale University faculty for 24 years. Among his many published works is Sweetness and Power (1985), which examines the worldwide transformation of the sugar industry. He is a recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Huxley Memorial Lecturer and Medalist (1994) and American Anthropological Association, Distinguished Lecturer (1996) awards.

Stephen Clapp ’61 - Doctorate of Music

Violinist Stephen Clapp ’61, dean emeritus of The Juilliard School, has maintained a performing and teaching career for decades while serving as an administrator at Juilliard, Oberlin and Aspen. He has been concertmaster of the Aspen Festival Chamber Symphony and the Nashville and Austin Symphonies, and has performed in collaboration with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline DuPre, and Yo-Yo Ma. Clapp has been a member of the Juilliard violin and chamber music faculties since 1987.

Bernice Johnson Reagon - Doctorate of Music

For more than 45 years, Bernice Johnson Reagon has been a major cultural voice for freedom and justice: singing, teaching, and speaking out against racism and organized inequities of all kinds. She formed the African American women’s a cappela ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She is professor emeritus of history at American University, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and served as the Cosby Chair of Fine Arts at Spelman College in Atlanta. Reagon has served as music consultant, composer, and performer for several film projects, including Eyes on the Prize, We Shall Overcome, and Beloved.

James W. White - Distinguished Service Award

In addition to his distinguished career as director of financial aid at Oberlin, James W. White has served on the Oberlin City Council and presided on the boards of numerous community organizations.

Wendell Logan - Alumni Medal

Composer, music educator, and jazz musician Wendell Logan (1940-2010) was chair of the jazz studies department at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a professor of African American music. In honor of Logan’s accomplishments in jazz studies and his commitment to the program he directed, the conservatory established an endowed scholarship in his honor.

Commencement exercises will be held on Tappan Square, during which more than 600 students will receive degrees. As part of Commencement/Reunion Weekend, hundreds of alumni will return to campus over the to take part in reunion gatherings and to attend special events, including concerts and plays, panel discussions, and the traditional Baccalaureate Celebration and Illumination.

James Carroll – Baccalaureate Speaker

James Carroll is a New York Times bestselling author and a weekly columnist for The Boston Globe with a particular interest in the intersections of politics and religion, and most notably that of his own Catholic Church. The son of an Air Force General and himself a former Catholic priest, Carroll has long wrestled with the problematic relationships between religion and discrimination, violence, and war. He won the 1996 National Book Award for his memoir An American Requiem: God, My Father and the War that Came Between Us, which chronicles Carroll’s own faith-based anti-Vietnam protesting.

For more information on speakers and Commencement/Reunion Weekend activities, visit the commencement page.

Bookmark and Share

Oberlin College
247 W. Lorain St., Suite C
Oberlin, Ohio 44074
(440) 775-8474

Office of Communicatons

The Media Relations division of Oberlin's Office of Communications provides news of the College to the media and the public. We also publicize upcoming events at Oberlin and help journalists, authors, filmmakers, and broadcasters find resources on the Oberlin campus.

Media Relations staff:

Scott Wargo
Director of Media Relations

Amanda Nagy
Assistant to the Director of Media Relations

247 W. Lorain St.
Suite C
Oberlin, OH 44074
Phone: (440) 775-8474
Fax: (440) 775-6907

Conservatory Communications

Conservatory Media Relations staff:

Cathy Partlow Strauss '84
Director of Conservatory Communications

Erich Burnett
Associate Director of Conservatory Communications

39 W. College St.
Oberlin, OH 44074
Phone: (440) 775-8328
Fax: (440) 775-5457