February 24, 2003

Heaney headlines honorary degree list

By Michael Terrazas mterraz@emory.edu

Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney will deliver this year’s main Commencement address and headlines a group of four honorary degree recipients that also includes physician and scientist Anthony Fauci, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer David Levering Lewis and Methodist composer (and Emory faculty member) Carlton “Sam” Young, President Bill Chace announced last week.

“I am delighted,” Chace said, “that the 2003 Commencement ceremonies will honor these four extraordinary individuals.”

Each honorary degree recipient will speak during Commencement, but Heaney’s keynote address will be slightly longer than the others’, Chace said. He added that he hoped faculty and students might incorporate lessons from the honorees’ work into their studies during the remainder of spring semester.

Heaney, born in 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland, returns to Emory 15 years after delivering the inaugural Richard Ellman Lectures in 1988. He published his first book of poetry, Death of a Naturalist, in 1966, and in 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, joining William Butler Yeats as the only Irish poets to be so honored.

Heaney’s Opened Ground, a collection of poems from 1966–96, was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1999, and his most recent translation, Beowulf (2000), won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award.

A pioneer in the field of immunoregulation, Fauci has served since 1984 as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health. He recently was awarded the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine, the largest medical prize in the United States and the largest in the world after the Nobel.

Fauci’s work has focused on the regulation of human immune responses with applications for such diseases as AIDS and Wegener’s granulomatosis. Currently he plays a key role in formulating government policy to combat bioterrorism.

Currently the Martin Luther King Jr. University Professor of History at Rutgers University, Lewis is author of a two-volume biography of W.E.B. DuBois, published in 1994 and 2001, winning the Pulitzer Prize both times. An Atlanta native, he attended the same high school as Martin Luther King and has taught at numerous universities around the world.

Studying African American culture through the contributions of elite blacks to social change and artistic achievement, Lewis delivered the keynote address at Emory’s international conference on lynching last fall that was inspired by the “Without Sanctuary” exhibit.

Called the “meadowlark” of Methodism, Young is an internationally known composer for the United Methodist Church and the global Christian community. Young’s 150 published works are in major music catalogs, and he is the only person to have edited two major hymnals for the same denomination in the 20th century.

A professor emeritus in the Candler School of Theology, Young once directed the school’s music program, and he composed and conducted a piece for the 20th anniversary of Cannon Chapel in 2001.

An exhibit in Woodruff Library near the main entrance chronicles the lives and achievements of the four honorees, and information about each person available at






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