March 17, 2006
Celebrated journalist Amanpour is U-M commencement speaker
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Christiane Amanpour, internationally renowned journalist and free press advocate, called by Time magazine the most influential foreign correspondent since Edward R. Murrow, will give the main address and receive an honorary degree at the University of Michigan's Spring Commencement.
Honorary degrees for Amanpour and four other recipients were approved by the U-M Board of Regents at its March 17 meeting. Commencement is at 10 a.m. April 29 in Michigan Stadium.
"Today's graduates are entering a world that is more complex than ever. Christiane Amanpour plays an important role in communicating and explaining the global challenges of our time, and I am pleased she will share her observations with our graduates," said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.
The honorary degrees to be conferred are: Amanpour, Doctor of Humane Letters; Elinor Ostrom, a path-breaking environmental policy theorist, Doctor of Humane Letters; William C. Richardson, president emeritus of Johns Hopkins University and former president of the Kellogg Foundation, Doctor of Laws; Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Doctor of Science; and William S. White, long-time president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Doctor of Laws.
Sen will be the main speaker at the University Graduate Exercises to be held in Hill Auditorium at 1 p.m. April 28.
Amanpour has for decades covered news stories in hazardous locations across the globe, ranging from war in the Balkans, to famine in Somalia, to the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. Her reporting is characterized by a deep insight into the political, social and cultural ramifications of the events she covers. She is also well known as a staunch advocate for freedom of the press throughout the world.
Ms. Amanpour was born in Iran, and her family needed to flee Tehran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Educated in Britain and the United States, she entered the field of journalism soon after graduating from the University of Rhode Island. In 1983, she joined the newly formed cable news network CNN, later describing herself at the time as a pioneer with "a suitcase, a bicycle, and about one hundred dollars." She is now CNN's chief international correspondent. Amanpour has been on the front lines of the most volatile events of recent years, including crises in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and Bosnia. She attracted worldwide attention for her reports on Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent Gulf War.
For her coverage of the conflict in the Balkans, Amanpour received two George Foster Peabody Awards and a Courage in Journalism Award. Her connection to U-M dates from 1992, when she was presented with the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her reporting from Sarajevo. For nearly 10 years, Amanpour has served on the selection panel for the Livingston Awards, which are administered by U-M. Her other honors include the 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcast Journalism, nine Emmy Awards, and election as a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Ostrom is widely recognized for her innovative work in the areas of environmental policy and common property resources. She is currently the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. Her ability to define the complex issues involved in the stewardship of natural resources has led her theories to be widely studied both in academia and in the world of public policy.
Ostrom attended the University of California, Los Angeles, for all of her degrees through doctorate, specializing in political science and economics at each stage. Her earliest publications explored the intersection of public policy and natural resources. She coined the term "common pool resources" to signify natural resources used by many individuals in common, such as fisheries, groundwater basins and irrigation systems, many of which have been exploited by individuals acting in their own interests. Ostrom's 16 books and over 100 articles and papers advocate a collaborative approach to solving these problems. Her most influential book, "Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action," published in 1990, has become a central resource for policy-makers and researchers in addressing the problems of shared resources. It was awarded the prestigious Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award from the American Political Science Association.
Ostrom was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and as a member of the National Academy of Science in 2001. She is past president of the American Political Science Association and has been the president of the Public Choice Society, the Midwest Political Science Association and the International Association for the Study of Common Property.
William C. Richardson
Richardson is president emeritus of Johns Hopkins University and was for 10 years president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, one of the leading philanthropic organizations in the country. In both positions, he has provided widely respected leadership in the areas of education, health care and philanthropy. A hallmark of his philosophy is his statement that "by helping others, we help ourselves in the process."
Richardson earned a bachelor's degree in history from Trinity College in Connecticut, followed by an MBA and a Ph.D. in business from the University of Chicago, specializing in the delivery of health care, an issue he has championed for decades. His academic career began in 1971 at the University of Washington, where he became graduate dean before moving to Pennsylvania State University as provost in 1984, then to Johns Hopkins University as president in 1990.
In 1995, Richardson accepted the presidency of the Kellogg Foundation, a position from which he retired in December 2005. The mission of the Kellogg Foundation is "to help people help themselves," and he worked to bring that concept to life in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and South Africa. He supported many programs in the state of Michigan through the Foundation, such as the renowned Voices of Detroit Initiative.
Richardson's vision and support from the Kellogg Foundation have been instrumental in transforming the University of Michigan's School of Information and School of Public Health. Recently, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation created the William C. Richardson Fellowship for Public Policy and Philanthropy at the University in his honor. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Amartya Sen is recognized as the foremost authority in the field of welfare economics in the past century, and has not only developed the most advanced theories in this field, but has also issued a global call for action regarding the alleviation of poverty and inequality. For this work he was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Sen is currently the Lamont University Professor at Harvard University, where he teaches both economics and philosophy.
Raised in an academic family, Sen attended a school founded by the great Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, where curiosity and awareness of a global cultural diversity was encouraged. Sen saw the violent impact of the sectarian politics that engulfed India in the 1940s, and witnessed death resulting from the clash of politics and the lack of individual economic freedom caused by extreme poverty and famine. He received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Trinity College at Cambridge University. While studying advanced economics, he won a fellowship to study philosophy at Cambridge University, where he began to weave moral and political philosophy into his concerns about economic equity.
Sen's book, "Collective Choice and Social Welfare," attempts to take an overall view of social choice theory, enquiring whether reasonable social choice is possible, given the differences in preferences among individuals. His later work explored more practical problems, including the causes and prevention of famine, measures of human development and gender inequality in the family. In addition to Harvard University, Sen has also held faculty appointments at Oxford University, Cambridge University and other institutions. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society.
William S. White
White has been a leader in the field of philanthropy both nationally and internationally during his 30-year tenure as president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Under his guidance, the Mott Foundation has transformed individual lives and entire communities through its resources and its commitment to promoting a just, equitable and sustainable society.
White earned his bachelor's degree and an MBA from Dartmouth College. After working on the New York Stock Exchange and serving in the U.S. Army National Guard, he joined the Mott Foundation as a consultant, eventually becoming the third president in the history of the Foundation in 1976. Based in Flint, the Foundation has continued a deep relationship with that city, as well as with the University of Michigan-Flint.
White extended the reach of the Foundation through his own international activities, including being a member of the Carter Center's observation team for the Palestinian elections in 1996 and participation on a U.S. presidential mission to Croatia. He was recognized by President Clinton for his efforts on behalf of the initiative known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
The impact of the Mott Foundation is highly visible at U-M. A donation from the foundation in 1964 helped build the current C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and a recent $25 million gift will help create a new state-of-the-art building that will extend the Mott legacy and the excellence of health care for children. On the Flint campus, the William S. White Building serves both campus and community. It provides educational opportunities as well as being an urban wellness center. In 2002, White received the prominent Distinguished Grantmaker Award from the Council on Foundations.
Contact: Joel Seguine