Web Update: Robert Redford to receive honorary degree

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Web update posted May 6

Clarification appended.

Actor Robert Redford and dancer Judith Jamison will be among the seven honorary degree recipients at this year’s Commencement.

Other recipients include author Edwidge Danticat MFA’93, University benefactor Matthew Mallow ’64 P’02, engineer Choon Fong Shih, publisher Wendy Strothman ’72 P’07 and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Maria Zuber MS’83 PhD’86.

The baccalaureate address will be delivered May 24 by writer Dave Eggers, who received an honorary degree from Brown in 2005.

Edwidge Danticat MFA’93

A graduate of Barnard College, Danticat hails originally from Haiti. Her Brown thesis was the foundation for her novel “Breath, Eyes, Memory,” released in 1994 and picked four years later for Oprah’s Book Club.

Danticat has written several critically acclaimed books, among them “Krik? Krak!,” a National Book Award finalist, and “Brother, I’m Dying,” also a National Book Award finalist and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She has also taught creative writing at the University of Miami and New York University.

Dave Eggers

Eggers is the author of numerous books, including “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” a memoir about having to raise his younger brother after their parents’ death from cancer. He is also the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publisher in San Francisco known for itsquarterly literary journal.

The recipient of an honorary degree from Brown in 2005, Eggers has also founded 826 Valencia, a writing lab in San Francisco for young people that has expanded to cities across the country. He is the editor of “The Best American Nonrequired Reading” and the co-editor of the Voice of Witnessseries of oral histories.

Judith Jamison

Jamison, a dancer and choreographer, is the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Her dance career began in 1964 when she joined the American Ballet Theater, becoming a member of Alvin Ailey a year later. She became the artistic director in 1989.

Jamison has received numerous accolades, including the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor. She has appeared in ballet companies all over the world, in Broadway shows and in a PBS special that won her an Emmy Award. Her talents are both artistic and academic: she has worked to build an B.F.A. program at the Ailey School in cooperation with Fordham University.

Matthew Mallow ’64 P’02

After graduating from the New York University School of Law, Mallow led the Corporate Finance Department of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flam LLP for 25 years. He has served as chair of the Committee on Securities Regulation of the New York City Bar Association.

He is currently the chair of the Campaign for Academic Enrichment, having served as a member of the Brown Corporation since 1990 and as its treasurer since 1998. Over the years, he has served on numerous Corporation committees and has also served as the chair of the Brown Annual Fund.

Robert Redford

Primarily known for his film work as an actor in widely lauded movies as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Sting” and as as director, Redford is also distinguished by his work in environmentalism. He founded the Institute for Resource Management and has also served as a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Redford founded the Sundance Institute in 1981 to support independent films and filmmakers. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Directors Guild of America Award, a Golden Globe, the Academy Award for Best Director for “Ordinary People,” the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Choon Fong Shih

A member of the Brown faculty from 1981 to 1996, Shih earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1973. He is known internationally for his engineering work on nonlinear fracture mechanics and computational methods for fracture analysis, with over 150 publications in scientific journals. He became president of the National University of Singapore in 2000.

A foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he will become founding president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia later this year.

Wendy Strothman ’72 P’07

Strothman has worked in publishing for over 30 years, including at Beacon Press and Houghton Mifflin’s Trade and Reference Division. While at Houghton Mifflin, Strothman represented authors who won a combined two Pulitzer Prizes, one National Book Award, three Caldecott Medals and two Newbery Medals. In 2003, she founded the Strothman Agency in Boston.

Strothman has served as a member of the Brown Corporation since 1990 and as its secretary since 1998. She established the Wendy J. Strothman Faculty Research Award in 2002 to fund research by members of the Brown faculty. She has received numerous awards, including the Publisher of theYear Award from the New England Booksellers Association.

Maria Zuber MSc’83 PhD’86

Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She studies the structure andevolution of planets and maps the topography and gravity field of planets using laser-ranging and radio-tracking systems on spacecraft.

In 2004, Zuber helped monitor the landing of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Her laser altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft produced the best topographic model available for any planet. In 2002, she was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover magazine.

A previous version of this article incorrectly implied that Wendy Strothman represented authors who won a combined two Pulitzer Prizes, one National Book Award, three Caldecott Medals and two Newbery Medals while Strothman was leading the Strothman Agency in Boston. In fact, Strothman represented those authors while working at Houghton Mifflin.

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