60th commencement weekend features ceremonies and celebrations aplenty

Six distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees Sunday, May 22, in Gosman Center

Brandeis University's 60th commencement ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 22, at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, following a weekend of ceremonies, parties, services and receptions.

David Brooks, centrist cultural commentator and op-ed columnist for the New York Times, is the commencement speaker.

Members of the Class of 1961, who are holding their 50th reunion over commencement weekend, will march together in the procession.

The main ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. and may be viewed live on the Brandeis website. It will be preceded by the commencements of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management in Spingold Theater and the International Business School in Levin Ballroom, both beginning at 8 a.m.

Details of the numerous mini-commencements being held during the day may be found, along with much other, related information on the Commencement 2011 website.

The weekend begins Friday afternoon with receptions planned by a variety of academic programs. These will be followed by the Baccalaureate Service at 4 p.m. at Chapels Pond (rain location is Berlin Chapel). The President's Reception for seniors and families and the Class of '61 will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium.

The Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony and reception will take place Saturday, May 21, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Spingold Theater.

Brooks and five other distinguished individuals will receive honorary degrees at commencement. This year's degree recipients are:

David Brooks
Doctor of Humane Letters

An op-ed columnist for The New York Times since 2003, David Brooks is among the most influential centrist cultural commentators of our time, in the tradition of Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken and Tom Wolfe. Mr. Brooks is equally at home commenting on policy and culture. On policy, he is that rare breed: a serious, thoughtful and rational centrist. On culture, he writes of how our lives are shaped not only by incentives but also by passions, values, loyalties and love - and by the demands of a competitive, globalizing world. Mr. Brooks' focus on culture has made him a strong proponent of the liberal arts. He wrote last summer, "No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo." Mr. Brooks' latest book is "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement." In a political landscape increasingly scorched dry by partisan groupthink, Mr. Brooks is an oasis of reason, humor, empathy and creative ideas.

Thomas Buergenthal
Doctor of Laws

Thomas Buergenthal is one of the foremost jurists and scholars in the field of international human rights. Co-author of the first American law school case book on international protection of human rights and author of the first law school text on international human rights, Professor Buergenthal served from 2000 until 2010 as the American judge on the International Court of Justice. Between 1979 and 1991, he was a judge and president of the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He also served on the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador. In 2010, Professor Buergenthal, who is widely recognized as an architect of the field of human rights law, returned to the chair in comparative law and jurisprudence at George Washington University Law School that he had held prior to his election to the International Court. Today he is a member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee and is on the advisory board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis. One of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz, he says that experience made him a better judge because he knows "what it is to be a victim."

Nancy Gertner
Doctor of Laws

President Clinton appointed Nancy Gertner to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in 1994. By that time she was already widely recognized as one of the nation's premier criminal defense attorneys and civil rights advocates. As an attorney, Judge Gertner applied her abundant intellect and seemingly limitless energy to the defense of the disenfranchised and the unpopular. Her feminist advocacy helped make Massachusetts a national leader and bastion of the pro-choice movement. As a federal judge, she has continued to apply her passion for civil and individual rights in the courtroom. Judge Gertner's written opinions have expanded the fields of civil rights and sentencing law, and she has issued influential opinions on an impressive variety of issues, from racial justice to Internet law. For the past several years she has taught at Yale Law School, and she will become a professor of the practice at Harvard Law School when she retires from the federal bench this fall. Her memoir, "In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate," has just been published.

Yo-Yo Ma
Doctor of Humane Letters

The many-faceted career of cellist Yo-Yo Ma is testament to his continual search for new ways to communicate through music and to his personal desire for artistic growth and renewal. A musician renowned for his performance of repertoire from the classical Western European tradition as well as for his collaborations across cultures, he has a discography of more than 75 albums, earning him 15 Grammy Awards. He is one of the best-selling recording artists in the history of the classical field. Mr. Ma is the founder and artistic director of the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit arts and educational organization that takes inspiration from the historic Silk Road trading routes as a modern metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary exchange. He has received numerous awards, including the 1978 Avery Fisher Prize, the 1999 Glenn Gould Prize, the 2001 National Medal of Arts, the 2006 Dan David Prize and the 2008 World Economic Forum's Crystal Award. He is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Appointed a CultureConnect Ambassador by the U.S. Department of State in 2002, Mr. Ma has met with, trained and mentored thousands of students worldwide. In 2006, he was designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace, and in 2010 President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Errol Morris
Doctor of Humane Letters

Errol Morris' documentary films are renowned for new ideas about how to tell nonfiction stories. "The Fog of War," a profile of former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, received the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. "Standard Operating Procedure," which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, examined the abuse by U.S. soldiers of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Mr. Morris himself feels the single most important work he has done was his effort to free an innocent man from prison, a result of his film "The Thin Blue Line." Mr. Morris is the originator of a unique interviewing machine, the Interrotron. A system of modified teleprompters, the Interrotron allows interviewees to address Mr. Morris' image on the monitor while looking directly into the lens of the camera, which gives Mr. Morris and the audience the impression of achieving eye contact with the subjects. He is the author of "Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography," which will be published this fall. He also has an online column in The New York Times. He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships. His newest film, "Tabloid," will be released in July 2011.

Jehuda Reinharz, Ph.D.'72
Doctor of Humane Letters

Devoted alumnus, faculty member in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department since 1982, director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry and provost under President Samuel O. Thier, Jehuda Reinharz became president of Brandeis University in 1994. Starting with a modest donor base, he raised more than $1.2 billion during the next 16 and a half years, creating a wide range of academic programs, centers and institutes, including 36 faculty chairs in new areas of teaching and research. He established a broad array of physical facilities, diversified the student body and created international partnerships. During his tenure, President Emeritus Reinharz authored many of his over two dozen books and extensive sets of articles. "The Jew in the Modern World," now in its third edition, is the premier classroom text in its field, and his multivolume biography of Chaim Weizmann is the definitive work on the first president of Israel. Now president of the Mandel Foundation, President Emeritus Reinharz helps guide the foundation in providing philanthropic support for leadership training, higher education in the United States and Israel, Jewish education and urban renewal. A member of numerous boards and honorary societies, he is the recipient of six honorary doctoral degrees.

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