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May 24, 2014

Four Distinguished Leaders Receive Honorary Degrees at 179th Commencement

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, l-r, Harry Ettlinger, Kevin Mandia ’92, and Roger Ross Williams, stand by the bust of the Marquis de Lafayette in Markle Hall.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, l-r, Harry Ettlinger, Kevin Mandia ’92, and Roger Ross Williams, stand by the bust of the Marquis de Lafayette in Markle Hall.

Four distinguished leaders received honorary degrees at the 179th Commencement.

President Alison Byerly conferred them upon Commencement speaker the Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, prime minister of Jamaica; Harry L. Ettlinger, a member of the “Monuments Men” of World War II; Kevin Mandia ’92, senior vice president and chief operating officer of FireEye; and Roger Ross Williams, Academy Award-winning producer and director of documentary films.

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Read about the honorands

The citations are below.

HARRY L. ETTLINGER, we salute you for your key role in the Monuments Men, an Allied team of nearly 350 men and women from 13 nations who rescued nearly five million cultural artifacts lost during World War II.

From September 1945 to July 1946 you helped locate and repatriate nearly 900 important objects stored in German salt mines. You shipped 73 crates of stained glass to a French cathedral, a good-will gesture ordered by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. You sent a Rembrandt self-portrait to a museum in your hometown of Karlsruhe that you had been forbidden to see as a Jew during Hitler’s reign. Your fluency in German was indispensable in working with former concentration-camp miners and in getting essential information from a Nazi art thief and Hitler’s photographer.

After the war you had a distinguished career as a mechanical engineer who guided missile-guidance systems for U.S. Navy submarines. In retirement you became a valuable interpreter of the Monuments Men legacy, representing the brigade’s foundation at presentations of the National Humanities Medal and the Emma Lazarus Statue of Liberty Award. As one of six living Monument Men, you have spoken plainly and eloquently about establishing “the policy that to the victor do not go the spoils.

You have downplayed your work with the Monuments Men, calling yourself “just the kid from New Jersey.” You are too modest; in reality, you are a modest hero.

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.”

KEVIN MANDIA, we thank you for being a three-star general in the international war against hackers.

You began your career as an intelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force, working at the Pentagon and in the Office of Special Investigations. In 2004 you founded Mandiant as the first company pledged to detect, respond to and contain computer intrusions. You took a big risk: your only financial angel was Ryan Schedler ’93, an investment banker and your Lafayette fraternity brother.

For a decade you helped Mandiant protect an extremely wide range of clients–law firms, police departments, government agencies—with extremely sensitive secrets. Your team worked seven years on the investigation of cyber spying by the Chinese military, identifying a specific English-speaking unit of the People’s Liberation Army. You released the report believing that by sharing information you could reduce the threat of catastrophic computer invasions around the world. You also knew the report could make Mandiant a bull’s-eye for hackers. No wonder Foreign Policy magazine named you a 2013 Leading Global Thinker for your visionary, gutsy work “on the bleeding edge of the digital revolution.”

You continue to be a calm yet firm voice in the cybersecurity storm. You smoothly juggle jobs as COO of FireEye, the software security maker that acquired Mandiant; television analyst, Congressional witness; Secret Service consultant, and Lafayette guest educator. Last month you found time to return to campus to discuss “The State of the Hack.”

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.

PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER, we honor you for working tirelessly to improve your homeland by making it a better home and land.

Raised by shopkeepers in a very rural village, you started your political career in 1976, joining the Jamaica Parliament as a representative of a parish famous for poverty and famous reggae musicians. From 1989 to 2002 you directed several key departments, including social security, sports and tourism. During this time you found time to earn a degree in public administration from Union Institute & University in Ohio.

As cabinet minister and prime minister, you have championed the rights of women, minorities and impoverished people. You have helped working mothers by expanding childcare centers. You have helped the economy by developing a sustainable tourism program. You have helped everyone by strengthening the National Insurance Scheme. This month you signed an $11.5 billion agreement for the European Union to fund six Jamaican programs, including ones aimed at decreasing poverty and increasing foreign economic partnerships.

You were the first candidate for prime minister who endorsed full civil rights for gays and lesbians. You were the second prime minister to publicly pledge to make Jamaica a republic by replacing Queen Elizabeth II as ceremonial head of state.

In 2012 you appeared on Time magazine’s list of 100 influential people. The next year you entered the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame. You have truly earned your affectionate nicknames of “Sister P” and “Mama P.”

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.

ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS, you have educated and enlightened us with provocative films about provocative partners and rivals. Music by Prudence, your first movie, is a heart-warming, head-spinning story about an inspiring band leader who battled severe prejudice in a superstitious country to prove that “disability does not mean inability.” It won the 2010 Academy Award for short documentary, making you the first African-American to win an Oscar for producing and directing. More important, you used the film’s success to significantly improve Prudence’s life. She toured America, became a UNICEF ambassador and had a surgeon straighten her spine.

You embraced even bigger challenges in God Loves Uganda, your second film and first feature-length documentary. You created a passionate, compassionate, compelling portrait of a powerful, controversial campaign by American evangelists to convert poor, dispirited Africans. Given rare access, you offered a 360-degree view of everything from greed to altruism, tolerance to homophobia–all relevant forces for you, a gay filmmaker whose sister is a pastor.

You have come a long way from growing up in Easton and spending three decades as a producer and/or director of television programs ranging from Comedy Central political satires to Barbara Walters specials. We look forward to your future works.

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 ARTS, 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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