Spelman President Johnetta Cole will speak at commencement, receive honorary degree

Spelman College President Johnetta B. Cole, a nationally recognized leader in education, has accepted an invitation to be the keynote speaker at Emory's 1996 commencement exercises.

Commencement is scheduled for Monday, May 13, at 8:30 a.m. on the quadrangle. Cole, who also will receive an honorary degree from Emory, will speak at the central commencement ceremony, which will be followed by individual college and school diploma ceremonies at various campus locations.

In announcing Cole as the commencement speaker, President Bill Chace said, "She is a superb citizen of Atlanta and of the United States, a great educational visionary, an inspiring and eloquent speaker, and a personal friend. I'm delighted that she has accepted our invitation."

Cole became the first black woman to be named president of Spelman in 1987. During her nine-year tenure, she has brought renewed recognition to one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges for women, has increased funding for the college, and has become a leader in Atlanta's African American community. Before coming to Spelman, Cole had a notable career as an anthropology professor specializing in research on West Africa and the Caribbean, and as an administrator at Hunter College.

Expressing strong support for Cole's nomination to receive an honorary degree, Emory's anthropology faculty noted her pioneering work in encouraging social science research in Cuba, her contributions to the anthropological community and her long teaching career.

In addition to Cole, five noted figures from various disciplines will be awarded honorary degrees at commencement. They include:

Morris B. Abram: A Georgia native and University of Georgia graduate, Abram was a leading figure in the 16-year battle in the 1950s and '60s to end Georgia's county unit system in voting. That system allowed small, rural and segregated counties to avoid dealing with urban issues and kept Atlanta from exercising its proper influence in state politics. His efforts paid off when the U.S. Supreme Court established the "one-man, one-vote" principle in state politics. In the 1960s, Abram successfully challenged the Georgia sedition law, which was used to arrest civil rights demonstrators and hold them without bail. He also secured the release of Martin Luther King Jr. from jail in Atlanta in 1960. Abram also has served as president of Brandeis University and has held several distinguished positions within the American Jewish community, including chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. He has donated his papers to the Special Collections Department of Woodruff Library.

Ely R. Callaway Jr.: A 1940 graduate of Emory College who majored in history, Callaway served in World War II and began his career in the textile industry. He eventually became president of Burlington Industries. In 1973 he left the textile industry and moved to southern California where he founded Callaway Wines. In 1981 he sold the winery, bought a small golf club manufacturing firm and renamed it Callaway Hickory Stick. The company developed the highly effective stainless steel driver called Big Bertha. Callaway also has headed the National Corporate Donations Committee for the United Negro College Fund and served on its Board of Directors. During his tenure, the organization raised the greatest amount of money in its history. Callaway sponsored the first Jewish and African American members of the University Club in New York City. At Emory, Callaway has significantly enhanced the Bobby Jones Scholarship program and has endowed a chair in cardiology, in addition to giving one of the largest gifts in Emory's history from an alumnus. That gift has funded the renovation of the former Physics Building as the Walker-Callaway Center.

William (Billy) Payne: President and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), Payne was the driving force behind the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) vote to award the 1996 Summer Olympics to Atlanta. Payne's devotion to Atlanta's Olympic movement is legendary; he took a leave of absence from his job and lived on his savings for two years to promote Atlanta's Olympic bid. In his quest, Payne brought IOC members to Georgia, taking avid golfers for outings at Augusta National Golf Course, and taking hunters to south Georgia plantations. He and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young led the Atlanta delegation to Tokyo in 1990 for the IOC announcement of Atlanta's selection. A well known Atlanta real estate attorney, Payne is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he received the Outstanding Senior Athlete Award for his football performance. He also led a $2.5-million fundraising drive to build a new sanctuary at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody.

Celestine Sibley: After 50 years as a reporter and columnist for The Atlanta Constitution, Sibley is one of the most recognized figures in Atlanta journalism. During her career she has covered politics, the courts, local government, events in Atlanta of national importance, and stories about people from all walks of life. She received the Ralph McGill Award for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism and recently has been recognized by the Georgia General Assembly, which she covered for many years as a reporter. In addition to her career as a newspaper reporter, begun at a time when few women made successful careers in journalism, Sibley has become known for her willingness to help people in need, for her involvement in community activities, for her devotion to the city of Atlanta and for her mentoring of young writers. She has used her position as a well-known columnist as a force for good in the community.

Daniel C. Tosteson: Dean of Harvard Medical School and president of the Harvard Medical Center, Tosteson has served since 1987 as a member of the Emory School of Medicine Visiting Committee. Internationally recognized as both an investigator and educator, Tosteson has been the driving force behind a revolution in medical education. First instituted at Harvard, the "New Pathway" is being incorporated by nearly all American medical schools. The program reasserts the student as the main actor in medical education and has resulted in the establishment of problem-based learning as the essential element.

--Dan Treadaway

Return to the March 25, 1996 contents page