News

May 23, 2009

Honorary Degree Citations

President Daniel H. Weiss conferred honorary degrees upon pediatric neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson, who delivered the Commencement address; Elliot J. Sussman, president and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Health Network; Nechama Tec, Holocaust scholar and author; and Riley K. Temple ’71, a principal in the Washington, D.C., strategic consulting firm Temple Strategies, today at the 174th Commencement.

The candidates were introduced by Alan R. Griffith ’64, chair of the Board of Trustees. Weiss read the citations.

BENJAMIN SOLOMON CARSON, SR.,

As a seriously underperforming fifth-grade student from a single-parent home in inner-city Detroit, you stunned your science teacher by identifying the black rock he held in his hand as obsidian, a word you’d recently learned from a library book. You stunned yourself, as well. “That day,” as you’ve noted, “I realized that Mother had been right. Reading is the way out of ignorance, and the road to achievement.”

Sustained by your family’s love, empowered by your teachers’ encouragement, strengthened by your growing sense of the value of knowledge, and grounded by the guidance of Proverbs and of Providence, you rose quickly to the top of the medical profession. Specializing for more than a quarter of a century in the difficult and uncompromising field of pediatric neurosurgery, you have devoted the highest level of judgment and skill to caring for seriously ill young patients and reassuring their understandably fearful parents.

Throughout a career dedicated to healing and to hope, you have inspired us, as well, through your broader commitment to elevate the “human good” through education. By motivating young boys and girls to unlock their own intellectual potential and by easing the financial burden that so often limits their access to college, you enable them to create exhilarating stories of personal triumph not unlike your own.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF SCIENCE, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May twenty-third
Two thousand and nine

Daniel H. Weiss, President

ELLIOT JAY SUSSMAN,

Sixteen years ago, when you began your tenure as president and chief executive officer of Lehigh Valley Hospital, you were assuming responsibility for what was generally regarded as a good regional hospital.

Today, it is no longer a hospital at all. Under your remarkable leadership, it has been transformed into the Lehigh Valley Health Network �“ this area’s largest employer, with three major hospital facilities and eight community-health centers. It has also become a recognized national leader in health-care delivery. Highly sought-after by prospective employees, it has earned a place on Fortune magazine’s list of the country’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in each of the past three years.

Such a dramatic transformation would not have been possible without your visionary guidance and oversight. Throughout your long and distinguished career as a practicing physician, a medical-school professor and dean, and a hospital executive, you have stood apart from your peers �“ a status reflected by your selection last year to serve as chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges. At a time when bold-face headlines announce, on a daily basis, the growing fear and frustration that many Americans feel about their ability to secure and pay for quality health care, we here in the Lehigh Valley �“ and in the nation as a whole �“ will continue to benefit from your innovative leadership and from your wise and thoughtful advocacy.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF PUBLIC SERVICE, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May twenty-third
Two thousand and nine

Daniel H. Weiss, President

NECHAMA TEC,

In Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood you describe with poignant directness the transformation you underwent during the three years when your very survival depended upon your ability to suppress your identity as a young Jewish girl to assume that of a Christian Pole. “I became a double person, one private and one public,” you wrote; “When I was away from my family I became so engrossed in my public self that I did not have to act the part; I actually felt like the person that I was supposed to be.”

The unflinching forthrightness with which you narrated your personal Holocaust experience is equally the hallmark of your scholarship. Sensitive and probing in your interviews and thorough and incisive in your research, you pose the questions that have long eluded others, questions that have rewarded you with “a multitude of answers, some predicted, some unanticipated.”

The accounts that form the thematic core of your writings tell of ordinary men and women who �“ in their towns, or deep within a forest, or in the heat of battle �“ somehow found the courage to stand up in defiance: quietly, against all odds, and without any thought of recognition. Through your examination of the sterling qualities that lay deep within these otherwise unexceptional people, you have enlarged our understanding of human bravery, resourcefulness, dignity, and triumph.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May twenty-third
Two thousand and nine

Daniel H. Weiss, President

RILEY KEENE TEMPLE,

The George Wharton Pepper Prize recognizes the graduating senior who “most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal.” Riley Keene Temple, Class of 1971, if we awarded a Pepper Prize to alumni, you would most perfectly exemplify that ideal.

Although the preparation you received here and at Georgetown Law School ensured your success in the demanding field of telecommunications law, you are at heart “a student for life,” as your current enrollment at the Virginia Theological Seminary attests. Your own experience having been deeply enriched by the arts and your knowledge of history, you have worked diligently on behalf of organizations that enhance cultural life and our understanding of America’s past. You have been honored, as well, for your efforts to combat ignorance, intolerance, and hate �“ and for your forceful affirmation of the power of human love and the human spirit.

We reserve a special measure of admiration and awe for your devotion to this college. The passion and sense of purpose with which you dedicate yourself to Lafayette were evident most recently when you founded the McDonogh Network to strengthen ties among African-American and black alumni and connect them more meaningfully to the College. Your legacy is inscribed with countless additional examples of how you have challenged and inspired us, broken through barriers yourself, and opened important doors for others. You have been a role model, mentor, and friend for our students. You have supported us generously and served us steadfastly. Above all, Riley, you continue to make us better.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF LAWS, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May twenty-third
Two thousand and nine

Daniel H. Weiss, President

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