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 April 24, 2000

Commencement Plans Announced

Sen. Christopher Dodd

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree and will address undergraduates at the University's 117th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. in Gampel Pavilion.

The morning ceremonies are for students graduating from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture, and the Schools of Allied Health, Engineering, Family Studies, Fine Arts, Nursing, Pharmacy and Business Administration. The afternoon ceremonies are for graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Continuing Studies, and the Neag School of Education.

Other Commencement speakers are:

  • Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation, who will speak at graduate ceremonies on Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. in Gampel Pavilion and will receive an honorary doctor of science degree;

  • Harold Hongju Koh, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, and will address graduates at the School of Law at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 21;

  • Hunter (Patch) Adams, a physician who came to international attention after a movie starring Robin Williams was made about his philosophy of dispensing humor along with medicine, who will be Commencement speaker at the UConn Health Center on Thursday, May 25, at 5:30 p.m.

"We are honored to have such outstanding Commencement speakers," says President Philip E. Austin. "Their wisdom will provide a suitable charge to our graduates."

Several other honorary degrees will be awarded during Commencement ceremonies.

On Saturday, awards will be presented to:

  • Robert Burton, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Walter Industries, Inc. of Tampa, Fla., who will receive a doctor of humane letters degree;

  • Lionel Olmer, senior partner in Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton &Garrison, an international law firm, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree; and

  • Sheila Widnall, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former secretary of the U.S. Air Force, who will receive an honorary doctorate of science degree.

An honorary degree will be given during the graduate ceremony to:

  • Jules LaPidus, president, Council of Graduate Schools, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree;

and at the Health Center ceremony to:

  • Harvey Sadow, the retired CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim Corp. and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., who will receive an honorary doctorate of science degree.

Sen. Christopher Dodd
Dodd is the senior senator from Connecticut. A native of Willimantic, he is the youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut and the first Connecticut son to follow his father, the late Thomas J. Dodd, to the upper chamber of Congress.

Dodd was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 and, after three terms in the House, was elected to the Senate in 1980. In 1998, he became Connecticut's only U.S. Senator to be popularly elected to a fourth term.

During the course of his distinguished Senate career, Dodd has earned a well deserved reputation as an expert on issues affecting children and families. He is the author of the Family and Medical Leave Act and has been a consistent advocate for Head Start and other early education childhood development initiatives.

In addition, he authored legislation designed to make financial aid more accessible to families and created the Education Department's College Opportunities On-Line project, a website that provides students and their parents with detailed information on higher education costs.

Dodd also has been steadfast in his support to protect the environment, and has worked to bring a just and lasting peace to Northern Ireland, Latin America and the Middle East. Like his father, for whom the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center is named, Chris Dodd has fought to bring to justice those who commit atrocities against humanity and has sought retribution for victims of war crimes and their families.

Rita Colwell
Colwell, the graduate commencement speaker, is one of the nation's most honored and well known scientists. In 1998, she was named director of the National Science Foundation, the first woman to head the agency that funds most non-medical basic research in the United States. Colwell was previously a professor of microbiology at the University of Maryland and president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute.

Colwell, who holds degrees in bacteriology and genetics, is a specialist in marine microbiology.

A member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990, Colwell has held numerous advisory positions in federal and state government, in private foundations, and in the international scientific community. She has authored or co-authored 16 books and more than 500 scientific publications. She also produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas.

Harold Hongju Koh
Koh, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, formerly served as the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law and director of the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School.

Koh is a specialist on international law, human rights, constitutional law, and international business transactions and trade. He won the 1991 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book on the American Presidency.

He received the Asian American Bar Association of New York's 1997 Outstanding Lawyer of the Year Award and was recognized by American Lawyer magazine in 1997 as one of the country's 45 leading public sector lawyers under the age of 45.

Hunter (Patch) Adams
Adams is founder and director of the Gesundheit Institute, a holistic medical community in Pocahontas County, W.Va., that has provided free medical care to thousands of patients since 1971. Although Adams no longer sees patients, he believes that "healing should be a loving human interchange, not a business transaction."

A professional clown and performer who has written, produced and/or acted in many plays, Adams is a movie maker and citizen diplomat. His approach to medicine has been controversial in the medical community.

Robert Burton
A business leader, philanthropist, and generous supporter of the University, Burton was captain of the football team at Murray State University, Ky., a four-year starter, and an All-American selection in his senior year. After graduating, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers and later signed with the Buffalo Bills.

Burton began his business career at IBM and held a series of successively more responsible executive level positions at CBS and Capital Cities/ABC. Until last November when he sold the company, Burton was chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president of World Color in Greenwich. As chairman, president and CEO, he led a 10-year turn-around of World Color, which culminated in the sale of the company in October 1999, providing stockholders with unparalleled returns on their investments.

His philanthropy has included providing scholarships for football players at several colleges, including UConn. Burton also has created employment opportunities for students at the companies he has run.

Lionel Olmer
As a private citizen and public servant, Olmer has championed the principles of free trade, open markets and democratic values as mechanisms to promote economic growth and international security. He is a 1956 alumnus of UConn.

A senior partner with the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, Olmer is based in Tokyo. An expert in international business law, he represents U.S. and foreign companies concerned with protection of intellectual property rights, export controls and market access.

Olmer has served three presidents, first in the early 1970s in the Nixon and Ford administrations and from 1981 to 1985 as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade in the Reagan administration.

Olmer is an active participant in efforts to assist refugees throughout the world and has served more than 20 years on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, the world's largest private, non-sectarian refugee relief and resettlement agency.

Sheila Widnall
An aeronautical engineer, educator, administrator, and policy maker, Widnall is also a pioneer. One of only 21 women among 900 men in the 1960 graduating class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was the only woman to go directly to graduate school. She earned a master's and doctorate from MIT.

Widnall served as Secretary of the U.S. Air Force from 1993 to 1997, the first woman to hold the top civilian post in any of the armed forces. As Air Force secretary, she drew praise for leading the service through the difficult downsizing and defense restructuring brought about by the end of the Cold War.

Widnall has served on the faculty of the aeronautics and astronautics department at MIT for three decades and as that institution's associate provost. An internationally recognized expert in fluid dynamics, she is the first woman to chair the faculty at MIT, was named the institution's Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1986, and was named Institute Professor in 1998.

Jules LaPidus
President of the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C. since 1984, Jules LaPidus has provided vigorous and enlightened leadership for graduate education in the United States and around the world, influencing graduate scholarship, diversity in graduate programs and graduate student professional development.

LaPidus is, or has been, a member of nearly every national committee of relevance to graduate education and research. He served on the faculty of Ohio State University for more than a quarter century, specializing in medicinal chemistry, and was dean of the graduate school from 1974 to 1984.

LaPidus is the author or co-author of more than 40 papers on medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, and is recognized internationally for his pioneering studies on the chemistry of adrenergic (adrenaline- like) drugs.

Harvey Sadow
Sadow's love of learning and zeal for research have made him one of the leading figures in the pharmaceutical industry. For 20 years with Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, he served as chairman, president and CEO of both Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and Boehringer Ingelheim Corp. His distinguished career in research has included doctoral studies in bioanalytic chemistry at UConn.

He has maintained strong ties to the University and the UConn Health Center. A recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, he was awarded the University Medal in 1987. From 1978 to 1988, Sadow was a member and president of the UConn Foundation's board of directors, and helped launch the University's first capital campaign. He headed the task force to raise funds for the Nutmeg Scholars Program.

He has also supported the University through philanthropy, including the creation of the Nat and Frances Sadow Scholarship, a fund he established as a tribute to his parents. He was instrumental in arranging for two very significant contributions by the Boehringer Ingelheim Corp. to establish endowed academic chairs in pharmacology and immunology research at the Health Center.

Karen A. Grava