Ambassador Pickering Leads Roster of Commencement Honorees

Thomas Pickering
Thomas Pickering

Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering will serve as speaker and receive an honorary degree at Brandeis’ 64th Commencement ceremony.

Alongside Pickering, four other individuals — ballerina Suzanne Farrell, writer Jamaica Kincaid, chef/food writer/restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi, and literary critic Helen Vendler — will also receive honorary degrees at the ceremony, to be held at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center on Sunday, May 17.

Pickering served more than four decades as a U.S. ambassador — including to the United Nations, the Russian Federation, India, Israel and Jordan — and was undersecretary of state for political affairs at the State Department from 1997-2000. He holds the title of Career Ambassador, the highest honor bestowed in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Farrell, a legendary dancer who was one of George Balanchine’s most celebrated ballerinas, is the founder of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Praised for her short fiction, novels and essays, Kincaid often draws on memories of her childhood in Antigua to explore the pressures of poverty and colonialism. She is currently a professor in residence in Harvard’s Department of English.

Author of the acclaimed cookbook “Jerusalem” and known for his Middle Eastern-inspired recipes, Ottolenghi is the chef/patron of NOPI restaurant and four successful Ottolenghi delis in London.

Vendler, the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard, has written books on Yeats, Keats, Shakespeare, Heaney and Dickinson, and is a frequent judge for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.