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Release date: April 6, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or

Emory Commencement May 14 To Feature Four Honorary Degree Recipients As Speakers

Emory University's 156th commencement will feature not just one keynote speaker, but four—each of the four honorary degree recipients will speak at the ceremony at 8 a.m. Monday, May 14.

Palestinian Catholic priest Elias Chacour, former Emory Board of Trustees Chairman Bradley Currey, South African constitutional court Justice Richard Goldstone and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault will each receive an honorary degree and deliver a brief speech.

The new arrangement will allow graduates to hear from all the honorary degree recipients, not just a keynote speaker as in past years, according to University Secretary Gary Hauk.

"It is fitting that the university conclude the celebration of our academic Year of Reconciliation at commencement by honoring four individuals whose distinguished careers have advanced and deepened our understanding of the principles of reconciliation," says Emory President William M. Chace. "Emory University is honored to have four such distinguished and accomplished individuals speak to our graduates and guests at commencement ceremonies this year."

Elias Chacour will receive a doctor of divinity degree. A Palestinian, he is a priest ordained in the Melkite Catholic Church, an Eastern Byzantine church in communion with the Roman Catholic church. For more than 30 years he has been an international ambassador for Middle East peace through non-violence. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, Chacour received the World Methodist Peace Award in 1994. He was born in Arab Palestine in 1939 to a Palestinian Christian family, but he became a deportee and refugee when he was eight years old until he was granted Israeli citizenship in 1948. He has earned degrees from Saint Sulpice and the Sorbonne University, Hebrew University and the University of Geneva.

Chacour is president of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, the only private campus in Galilee, Israel, where pre-school through post-graduate students of many faiths and ethnicities live and learn together. He is the author of the books "Blood Brothers" and "We Belong to the Land." He has been selected to receive the 18th Niwano Peace Prize in Japan the week prior to Emory's commencement from an international foundation that promotes world peace.

Bradley Currey Jr. will receive a doctor of humane letters degree. He chaired the Emory Board of Trustees from 1994 until his retirement last November. A trustee since 1980, Currey served on the board's investment committee for 14 years immediately following Emory's receipt of the $105 million Woodruff gift, more than half of that term as chairman. Remarkably, neither Currey nor any member of his family had any ties to Emory prior to his agreeing to accept nomination as a trustee.

A 1951 graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Currey served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and then began his 23-year career with Trust Company of Georgia. In 1976 he joined Rock-Tenn Company, a manufacturer and converter of recycled paperboard and packaging, retiring as chairman in January 2000.

Richard Goldstone will receive a doctor of law degree. Since 1994 he has been a justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Prior to that he served as judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court (1980-89) and then judge of the appellate division of the supreme court (1989-94). During his time as appellate judge, Goldstone led the Commission of Inquiry regarding Public Violence and Intimidation (1991-94), which came to be known as the Goldstone Commission, and for two years as the chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He is chairman of an international group of experts who met in Valencia, Spain, to draft the Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities for the director general of UNESCO (the Valencia Declaration). Since August 1999 Goldstone has headed the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo.

Goldstone's faith in law and passion for justice is evident in his advocacy for a permanent international war crimes tribunal, according to his nomination letter. "Admiration for Justice Goldstone's international efforts prompted Emory Law School faculty to nominate him for an honorary degree, which is particularly appropriate during the university's Year of Reconciliation," says Hauk. Goldstone participated in Emory's Reconciliation Symposium in January.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault will receive a doctor of humane letters degree. An international correspondent for CNN and National Public Radio in Johannesburg, South Africa, Hunter-Gault has won acclaim for reporting on social justice issues.

She was one of two black students to integrate the University of Georgia in 1961. Following her graduation Hunter-Gault wrote for the New Yorker and then The New York Times, where she served as the first Harlem bureau chief. She was a correspondent for "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" program from 1978 to 1997. Hunter-Gault won an Emmy Award for her Grenada coverage and was named Journalist of the Year in 1986 by the National Association of Black Journalists. She also received the George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award that year from her alma mater for her documentary on apartheid. Her autobiography, "In My Place," was published in 1992.

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