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Five named to receive honorary degrees
May 10, 1999
The University in mid-May will award honorary degrees to five people who have achieved great success in the fields of writing, law, research and business, as commencement ceremonies unfold in Storrs, Hartford and Farmington.
Three of the awardees - author and historian David McCullough, linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, and appeals court Judge Harry T. Edwards - also will deliver the commencement addresses at ceremonies for undergraduates, graduates, and students at the School of Law, respectively.
Business leader and philanthropist Frank D. Rich Jr., a former UConn trustee, will be honored during undergraduate ceremonies May 15, and scientist Harold C. Slavkin will receive an honorary degree during ceremonies at the UConn Health Center in Farmington on May 20.
Tomie dePaola, a Meriden native and one of America's best known and most widely published author/illustrators of children's books, will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree in the fall.
McCullough received the Pulitzer Prize for Truman, his 1992 biography of the 33rd President of the United States. To millions of television viewers, he is perhaps best known as host of The American Experience on PBS, and narrator of Ken Burns' production of The Civil War and other PBS documentaries. McCullough is also the author of Mornings on Horseback, a biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt; Brave Companions, a collection of essays on heroic figures past and present; and three works concerning humanity's relationship with the physical world - The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge (the story of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge), and The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914.
Chomsky, an internationally renowned linguistics scholar and noted critic of American foreign policy, is a long-time professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky revolutionized the field of linguistics, theorizing that language is the core property of the mind, and that even very young children can develop language skills without training.
Chomsky's writings and speeches on international affairs and foreign policy also have brought him fame. A noted critic of the Vietnam War, Chomsky has written dozens of books and articles on American involvement in overseas conflicts, including a recent piece in Z Magazine, an Internet- based publication, on the rhetoric surrounding U.S. involvement in Yugoslavia.
Edwards was appointed in 1980, by President Jimmy Carter, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He has been chief judge there since 1994, and is widely recognized as one of the leading African-American figures in law today.
A native of New York, he received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1962, and his Juris Doctor, with distinction, from the University of Michigan Law School. A legal scholar, Edwards also has taught at schools of law at Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York University.
Rich, a member of UConn's Board of Trustees from 1974 until 1993, is one of the leading citizens of Fairfield County. A graduate of Princeton University, he joined the family construction business after returning from service in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, becoming president in 1961 and chairman of the board in 1979. He is founder and president of the Stamford Center for the Arts, a donor to the University of Connecticut and a driving force behind UConn's efforts to establish a new campus in downtown Stamford. The city is dotted with buildings constructed by his firm.
Slavkin, as director of the National Institute of Dental Research, directs the work of more than 450 scientists and oversees an annual budget of more than $230 million. His leadership has been instrumental in advancing knowledge of craniofacial, genetics and developmental biology.
Formerly director of the University of Southern California's Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, he led a team of scientists who investigated the genetic origins of normal and abnormal craniofacial, oral and dental development. He has authored more than 250 articles in scholarly journals and another 100 book chapters that have contributed to basic science in his field.
Dual undergraduate commencement ceremonies, held in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, begin at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 15. Ceremonies at the UConn Law School, on Elizabeth Street in Hartford, begin at 10 a.m. May 16, and graduate ceremonies begin at 3 p.m. May 16 in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Ceremonies for candidates for dental and medical degrees will be held at the UConn Health Center May 20, beginning at 6 p.m.