High Praise and Honorary Degrees for Several Alums This Commencement Season

June 26, 2013

As the 2013 commencement season comes to a close, we've seen Wellesley women, leaders in diverse fields, invited to speak at and be recognized by numerous institutions of higher learning. Their commitment, achievement, service to their field, and leadership are hallmarks of Wellesley College, and qualities valued by like-minded institutions. As the Dean of McGill University Faculty of Law Daniel Jutras put it, “We think of the bestowal of honorary degrees as a meaningful opportunity to give expression to some of [our own] values and aspirations.”

Wellesley congratulates the members of its community who received honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country (and in Canada) this spring. These include (pictured, photo by Dan Addison Photography) Vivian Pinn '62 at Bates College, Madeleine Albright '59 at Bowdoin College, Diana Chapman Walsh '66 at Amherst College, Alecia DeCoudreaux '76 at Indiana University, Sally Engle Merry '66 at McGill University, and Margaret V. McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, at Duquesne University.

Vivian Pinn '62 received an honorary degree from Bates College recognizing her work as a “distinguished physician and pioneering leader and mentor at the National Institutes of Health who fought for greater gender equity in all realms of women’s health, medicine and research.” Pinn served as the National Institutes of Health first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, where for 20 years she worked to expand women’s health research beyond the traditional focus on breast and reproductive health and to bring more women and minorities into medicine and medical leadership.

Madeleine Albright '59 received an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, from Bowdoin College. Bowdoin called Albright "an important figure in American foreign policy for more than 30 years" and, among other accomplishments, recognized her service as the first female Secretary of State; U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; president of the Center for National Policy; and member of the National Security Council.

Former Wellesley College President Diana Chapman Walsh '66 received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Amherst College. Chapman Walsh was Wellesley's 12th president, serving from 1993 to 2007. Amherst recognized Chapman Walsh for her "distinctive style of reflective leadership rooted in a network of resilient partnerships and anchored in the belief that trustworthy leadership starts from within."

Sally Engle Merry ’66 delivered the commencement address at McGill University on May 31 and was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. Engle Merry, a professor of anthropology in the Institute for Law and Society at New York University, is among the most distinguished scholars of law and society in the world today, and the leading legal anthropologist in the United States. “Sally Engle Merry is a thoughtful, prolific, world-class scholar who examines how seemingly universal legal norms are reshaped and translated in different local contexts around the globe,” said Daniel Jutras, dean of McGill University’s Faculty of Law in a McGill press release.

Alecia DeCoudreaux '76 spoke at Indiana University Bloomington commencement exercises and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree. After Wellesley, DeCoudreaux earned her law degree from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 1978. DeCoudreaux chaired Wellesley's board of trustees before becoming president of Mills College in 2011. She is that school’s 13th president and the institution's first African-American female president.

Margaret V. McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, received an honorary doctor of humane letters distinction from Duquesne University. McIntosh is founder and co-director of the National S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project of Inclusive Curriculum, which helps teachers, counselors, and administrators create their own year-long, site-based seminars on making school climates, curricula, and teaching methods more gender fair and multi-culturally equitable. She also delivered remarks at Duquesne’s School of Education's Diploma Ceremony.

If you know of other members of the Wellesley community so honored this year, please let us know on our Facebook page!