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May 25, 2013

Five Distinguished Leaders Receive Honorary Degrees at 178th Commencement

Five distinguished leaders received honorary degrees at the 178th Commencement.

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Honorary degree recipients Martin Amis (l-r), Anne-Marie Slaughter, President Daniel H. Weiss, Robert A. Pastor ’69, and Joseph T. Cox ’68

Honorary degree recipients Martin Amis (l-r), Anne-Marie Slaughter, President Daniel H. Weiss, Robert A. Pastor ’69, and Joseph T. Cox ’68

President Daniel H. Weiss conferred them upon Commencement speaker Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the nation’s most influential commentators on international relations and global issues; British author Martin Amis; Joseph T. Cox ’68, headmaster of The Haverford School; and Robert A. Pastor ’69, professor of international relations and director of the Center for North American Studies and Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. Weiss, who is concluding his eighth and final year as Lafayette’s 16th president, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Edward W. Ahart ’69, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.

Read about the honorands

The citations are below.

MARTIN AMIS, although the “congratulatory first” you earned at Oxford confirmed your exceptional gifts as a student of English literature, it gave no hint that your own work in that language would secure for you the far greater distinction of being one of the most interesting, important, and original writers of fiction and nonfiction during the past half-century.

The breadth of your accomplishment is extraordinary, from your slyly satirical and superbly crafted fiction to your penetrating commentaries and hauntingly honest autobiographical work.  You are also utterly original.  Whether you are challenging us to think of the Holocaust in a new way with time’s arrow in the novel of that name, affording us a “clear view of the geography of a writer’s mind” in your memoir Experience, engaging us with your views on politics or literature, or reminiscing about your friendships with Christopher Hitchens and others, you never fail to enlighten and surprise.

While your active public life and brilliant facility with words seem to suggest that your extensive publication record has been achieved with ease, not effort, you are in fact among our most dedicated and hardest-working writers.  A deeply attentive shaper of plots and phrases who believes that no novel can work “unless it works out morally” and whose advice to young authors is “don’t do anything by accident,” you model that advice by approaching your craft with passion, conviction, and purpose.

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 LITERATURE, 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.

JOSEPH T. COX, CLASS OF 1968, on the surface you appear to be a study in contradictions:  an English major who earned advanced degrees in that discipline; a Vietnam War veteran who concluded his three decades of military service as a tenured West Point professor; a poet of uncommon range and sensitivity; and a leader in the field of pre-collegiate education whose accomplishments as headmaster of The Haverford School have been both transformational and enduring.

To those who know you, your broad experiences and proficiencies share a common thread:  the intelligence, passion, and empathy with which you view the world and care about those who inhabit it. Your humanity ­­­­­has been evident in the lessons you have taught young men in battle and in the classroomand in the clear-eyed honesty with which you have used your own poems and the poetry of others to find (and tell) “the truth about some things.”

At Haverford you strengthened the academic quality and the resource base of an already distinguished institution while at the same time increasing its capacity to nurture and support its students.  And to your service as a trustee of this college you bring both the wisdom to see our potential and the willingness to work hard to help us achieve it.

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 HUMANITIES, 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.

ROBERT A. PASTOR, CLASS OF 1969, last month we listened with considerable awe (and enormous pride) as President Jimmy Carter praised you as “bold,” “brilliant,” and “an innovator”and credited you with, among other achievements during your tenure as National Security Advisor for Latin America, bringing about the Panama Canal treaties; normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba; and initiating a human rights program that transformed every military dictatorship in South America into a democracy.

During your career you have made extraordinary contributions to your academic discipline, to American foreign policy, and to the world.  On this occasion we pay grateful tribute, as well, to your leadership in helping Lafayette students become confident and informed global citizens.  Through your personal commitment, your and Margy’s generosity in endowing a major annual lecture in international affairs, and your exceptional network of colleagues and friends, you have given our undergraduates the priceless opportunity “to listen to people who have influenced the world in the hope that one day they can influence the world.”

Forty-four years ago you graduated from Lafayette with honors in history.   No written thesis is required for the honor you are being accorded today.  You have earned it instead through your forceful and visionary efforts to create a better world.

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.

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, your work as a scholar, educator, and public intellectual has long been distinguished by its quality, insightfulness, energy, and breadth.  A refreshingly candid commentator on topics ranging from 21st-century statecraft to the status of women in the workplace, you have a gifted teacher’s knack for bringing complex global and local issues to life for specialists and non-specialists alike.

As president of the New America Foundation, the position you will assume in September, you will, in your words, “move one step closer to putting ideas into action.”  It is a step you are uniquely well qualified to take, as indicated by the impressive honors you received during your two-year term as director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State.

Steve Coll, whom you are succeeding as New America’s president, describes you as a writer and thinker who has “always been courageous and innovative, willing to break with convention and to think forward about globalization and social change.”  Your capacity to “think forward” with boldness will make you the ideal leader for a foundation whose mission is to address the next generation of challenges facing our nation by investing in new thinkers and new ideas.  As you create dynamic new models and networks, you and the foundation will link policy to action in powerful and exciting new ways.

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 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.

DANIEL H. WEISS, although by training you are a specialist in the art of the 13th century, as Lafayette’s president you have excelled in the art of educational leadership for the 21st.

One of the attributes the Marquis de Lafayette most deeply admired about America was the young nation’s commitment “to promote the progress of civilization and learning.”  Throughout your eight years as president you have promoted the progress of Lafayette College with vision and energy, working both to make us the best institution we can be today and to preserve our values and ideals for the future.

The theme of your inaugural address“We aspire to excellence in all that we do”has been the touchstone of your presidency.  Whether you were guiding the implementation of an ambitious strategic plan; adding faculty, facilities, and programs to enhance student achievement; extending the College’s reach locally and globally; or organizing a major conference on the future of the American liberal arts college, you kept your expectations bold and high, raising Lafayette to new heights in the process.

In paying tribute to you today, we also express our great admiration and affection for Sandra, Teddy, and Joel.  Their distinctive contributions as members of our community have added much to the success of your presidency.

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.

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