Seven receive honorary degrees


Last spring the Atlanta Braves celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run with a ceremony at the stadium and a billboard message that simply read, "Thanks, Hank." Demonstrating persistence and perseverance, he hit 755 home runs over twenty-three seasons.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1934, Aaron broke the color barrier of the South Atlantic League and won its Most Valuable Player award. The recent TBS documentary, "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream," recounted how, throughout his career, he hammered down walls of injustice as deliberately as he hammered baseballs out of the park.

Home-Run King, Diligent Citizen: A young man not yet able to vote, you left family and home to follow your life's great calling. North and South you pursued, as well, your nation's destiny of colorblind opportunity. Along the way you entered the large and consequential realm of American myth. Through perseverance and fortitude, you showed good fences make good targets. In our springtime of anxiety about America's pastime and future, your career--in baseball and since--reminds us that, however simple the games of our youth, our collective history has no simple eras. For your heart--its strength and striving toward good--and for your hands--their power and building of good--we confer on you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


Vice president and chief scientific officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1988, W. Maxwell Cowan directs private sector medical research programs throughout the country to promote knowledge of the basic sciences and their effective applications.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Cowan arrived in the United States in 1965. He has held appointments at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, where he was vice president. In 1986, he returned to Washington University to become provost and executive vice chancellor.

Eminent Neuroscientist and Educator: Your career of more than forty years has led you from lecture hall to boardroom without diminishing the scope of your research interest or your passion for educating generations of scientists. Under your careful stewardship, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has promoted advances in science and their application for the benefit of humankind. Your wise counsel and profound erudition have benefited our own School of Medicine. As the health sciences at Emory become acclimated to the rarefied atmosphere that suffuses your daily rounds, we pause for breath to confer on you, with esteem and deep appreciation, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


One of the most prominent mathematicians of this century, Paul Erdös has directed the development of several new and important research areas in mathematics through his innovative work and unique ability to pose fundamental problems. His record of more than sixty years includes impressive results in number theory, set theory, geometry, probability, and combinatorics, and he has published in nearly every subdiscipline of mathematics.

Bright spirit of numbers and theorems: With inexhaustible youthfulness and zealous intellectual passion, you aspire to be possessed of the one international language. In an age of specialized academic excursions you travel widely in all mathematical lands, guided by the seductive beauty of problems and the erotic promise of solutions. Your far-flung collaborations and energetic teaching have sown fields now rich in harvest. Your professional biography is a syllabus of twentieth-century mathematics. Future generations will envy us for having been your contemporaries. With kudos for your ingenious brain and good, true heart, we confer on you the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


Literary scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is one of America's most dynamic intellectuals. His critical studies have had a broad impact on African-American oral and literary traditions, and his books include The Signifying Monkey (a 1989 American Book Award winner) and Colored People: A Memoir, about growing up in a small West Virginia town in the 1950s and 1960s. He is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the Nation, and the Times Literary Supplement. The recipient of honors and grants throughout his career, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1981 at the age of thirty.

Since 1991 Dr. Gates has been at Harvard University as W.E.B. DuBois Professor of the Humanities and Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies.

Eminent Scholar, Essayist, Lecturer: Gifted with piercing intellect and generous breadth of understanding, you refuse the half-truth found in conventional wisdom, expose cant regardless of source, and deflate naive trust of much that is read in black and white. Your prolific, eloquent commentary on our national mores and follies points us toward our better possibilities. Unhobbled by the acclaim and tempests that attend your brilliant career, you have fought through to the determination to build what is beyond yourself. For your extraordinary service in elevating public discourse, for your modeling of civility allied with incisive argument, and for your remarkable, growing body of important scholarship, we gratefully confer on you the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.


Alex Gross, a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, teaches students about the depths of life as he tells the harrowing story of his stay in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Taken from his home in Hungary during the last years of World War II, he was confined in the ghettos, used as slave labor in Auschwitz, and transported by open boxcar to Buchenwald, where he was liberated by the U.S. Army. Coming to the United States after the war, he began a career as a builder, which he interrupted by deciding to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea.

Gross decided he had to speak about the Holocaust to be sure that such horrors do not recur. Gross has been active in the work of the Fred R. Crawford Witness to the Holocaust Project and the Schatten Gallery's Danzig and Auschwitz exhibits--University efforts that became watershed events in the history of Emory and Atlanta.

Witness, Testifier, Guide: As one who has lost much that is most precious, you fashion from the spun-glass fragility of life lessons about the possibility of meaning. An archetype of our age--the survivor--you are also friend and neighbor, teaching us therefore more dearly the lessons of history. Out of the depths of suffering humanity, you educate our community about life and faith and the supreme trials attendant on both. In this semicentennial spring marking the liberation of night-covered camps, we celebrate your liberated spirit and the burden of vigilance it imparts to us. With deepest affection and respect for your courage, love, and guidance, we bestow on you the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


For sixty-five years, Max Hall has distinguished himself as a journalist, writer, and editor. A 1932 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Emory, Hall held a variety of positions at newspapers in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, then worked for the federal government before taking up editorial duties in New York and at Harvard University. He became the first social science editor for the Harvard University Press and served as the first publications editor for the Center for International Affairs at Harvard. From 1973 to 1977, Hall advised faculty members at the Harvard Business School about writing books, and he remains a member of the Harvard Magazine board of directors. Among the many books he edited, several won the Pulitzer Prize. His own varied writing includes the definitive history of Harvard University Press and a history of the Charles River.

Alumnus and Man of Letters: Member of a distinguished generation at Emory, you left your native South to marry cultured manners with cultured mind on the banks of the Charles River. A meticulous wordsmith, you improved the language at Harvard University Press before writing the Press's definitive history. Your books include a masterpiece of literary sleuthing that would distinguish the vita of any scholar, and a history of Harvard that would grace any Cantabrigian's résumé. In scores of chapters and articles, you draw readers along with wide-ranging curiosity and unadorned, fluent style. In recognition of your excellent service to the written word, we proudly bestow on you the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.


A dedicated humanitarian, Grace Crum Rollins is a woman of remarkable devotion, kindness, modesty, and spirit. Together with her late husband, O. Wayne Rollins, she has supported Emory in a great variety of ways as one of the University's most generous benefactors.

The Rollins' resources helped fund the renovation of the chapel at the Candler School of Theology, the work of the North Georgia Teaching Parish, and the O. Wayne Rollins Fellowships in Church Ministries. Their lead gift of $10 million made possible the establishment of the O. Wayne Rollins Research Center, which houses researchers from the School of Medicine, Emory College, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Independently, Mrs. Rollins has funded the construction of the Grace Crum Rollins Building, which houses the Rollins School of Public Health.

Humanitarian, Benefactor, Woman of Faith: Out of profound devotion to church and family you have fostered enlargement of kith and kin to embrace students, faculty, and countless unnamed persons. Content to live what you yourself have called a simple life as wife and mother, you have sought also to enable others to overcome life's complexities. Your compassion, kindness, and abundant generosity have strengthened not only Emory but also sister colleges and churches throughout North Georgia. Though your modesty stands as the surest testament to your spirit, and grace names your finest quality, we are bold to bestow on you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

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