WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mary-Claire King, an award-winning geneticist at the University of Washington who first discovered the breast and ovarian cancer gene, will be the principal speaker at Williams College's 230th commencement exercises on Sunday, June 2.
The day before, Ophelia Dahl, a British-American social justice and health care advocate, will be the baccalaureate speaker. Both will receive honorary degrees at commencement from President Maud S. Mandel, as will president of Berklee College of Music Roger H. Brown; founder and co-Chairman of Charlesbank Capital Partners and Chairman of the Williams Board of Trustees Michael Eisenson, class of 1977; and Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, and songwriter Kevin Roosevelt Moore, widely known as Keb' Mo'.
King has spent the past four decades working to better understand human genetics and its impact on human health. As the American Cancer Society Research Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, she is renowned for the discovery of the BRCA1 gene, enabling many women with inherited predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer to learn of their vulnerability and prevent the disease.
She graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota with a degree in mathematics and earned her doctorate in genetics at the University of California at Berkeley, where with her mentor Allan Wilson, she revolutionized evolutionary biology by demonstrating that chimpanzees and humans share 99 percent of their gene sequences.
She also demonstrated the power of genetics to advance social justice, when she used DNA evidence, first to help Argentinian families find and identify their grandchildren who had been kidnapped during the country's military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, and subsequently to identify victims of human rights abuses on five continents.
King has received many awards for her work, including the Lasker Foundation Special Achievement Award for Medical Research and the United States National Medal of Science.
Dahl is helping transform access to health care through her work at the Boston-based nonprofit health care organization Partners In Health, which she co-founded and led as president and executive director from 2001 to 2015. PIH works in close partnership with local and national governments and the world's leading medical and academic institutions to bring the benefits of modern medical science to impoverished communities.
Dahl's work has been featured in books and major articles, as well as in the 2017 documentary film "Bending the Arc." The daughter of author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal, she also helps to lead her late father's literary estate and is trustee of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, England. In 2011, she was named by The Boston Globe as one of its three Bostonians of the Year, in part for her and PIH's response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Roger H. Brown
Roger H. Brown
Brown is president of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Under his leadership, Berklee has transformed its offerings to embrace a global and inclusive vision of human creativity — creating the world's largest online music education system, opening a campus in Valencia, Spain, facilitating a merger with Boston Conservatory, increasing scholarship and financial aid by more than 500 percent, and tripling the endowment.
Before joining Berklee, Brown and his wife, Linda Mason, helped to alleviate a humanitarian crisis on the Thai-Cambodian border, administering the Land Bridge food distribution for Cambodian refugees. Next, they served as co-directors of a Save the Children Federation initiative for famine relief in Sudan. The program served more than 400,000 people and is estimated to have saved more than 20,000 lives. They subsequently co-founded Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the world's largest provider of worksite child care, and Horizons for Homeless Children.
A talented drummer and songwriter, Brown has performed actively throughout his career. He has been recognized for his humanitarian initiatives as well as his educational and entrepreneurial achievements, receiving the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, and being named, along with his wife, as a Visionary Social Entrepreneur by the Social Venture Network's Hall of Fame.
Eisenson has helped transform Williams through his visionary and disciplined board leadership and service, among his many contributions to the college. He is the founder and co-chairman of Charlesbank Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm. Born in the Bronx, N.Y., and raised in New York's Westchester County, Eisenson came to Williams as a first-generation college student and later earned both an master of business administration and a juris doctor from Yale.
He started his career at the Boston Consulting Group and went on to become president of Harvard Private Capital Group. Chair of the Williams Board of Trustees since 2014, he also chaired the search that led to the appointment of Maud S. Mandel as the college's 18th president and, among other responsibilities, he led the board's articulation of the college's sustainability goals, its involvement in the work to enhance the vitality of Spring Street, and the creation of the college's Investment Office in 2006.
Beyond Williams, Eisenson serves on numerous nonprofit boards, reflecting his interests in areas as wide-ranging as the arts, civic leadership, and cancer research and treatment, and is a founder of Horizons for Homeless Children, a program providing preschool and related services to homeless children and their families throughout Massachusetts.
Kevin Roosevelt Moore
Moore, professionally known as Keb' Mo', is a leading figure in the latest wave of the blues renaissance. A Nashville-based singer, guitarist, and songwriter, and a four-time Grammy Award winner, his musical style incorporates influences from many eras and genres, including folk, rock, jazz, pop, and country.
Originally from Compton, Calif., Keb' Mo' began his recording career with Jefferson Airplane violinist Papa John Creach, appearing on four of his albums starting in the early 1970s. He went on to play with a variety of bands throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His recording debut as a bandleader, "Rainmaker," was released on Chocolate City Records in 1980. In the early 1990s, Keb' Mo' performed in productions of "Spunk," a play based on an adaptation of three stories by Zora Neale Hurston, and released his self-titled album, which features two covers of songs by blues musician Robert Johnson, one of his greatest influences. He won his first Grammy Award for his 1996 album, "Just Like You," which featured guest appearances from Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.
In addition to performing with some of music's top artists, Keb' Mo' has made numerous television and film appearances.
Commencement will be held Sunday, June 2, beginning at 10 a.m. in the library quad. The area opens at 8 a.m. and the procession begins at 9:30. The President's Reception will follow on the Paresky Lawn. The baccalaureate address will take place Saturday, June 1, at 5 p.m.
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Nine Williams College Seniors Win Fellowships to Study at Cambridge and Oxford
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College has announced the winners of the Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College, the Martin-Wilson Fellowship for graduate study at Worcester College at Oxford University, and the Donovan-Moody Fellowship for graduate study at Exeter College at Oxford University.
The seven seniors awarded the Herchel Smith Fellowship are Tania Calle, Nicholas Goldrosen, Grace Kromm, Jake Rinaldi, Crispin Jay (CJ) Salapare, Suiyi Tang and Meklit Tesfaye. Joseph Moore was awarded the Martin-Wilson Fellowship, and Emmie Hine was awarded the Donovan-Moody Fellowship.
Calle, a political science major from Corona, Queens, N.Y., plans to pursue an M.Phil. in public health and public policy. Aiming to further her understanding of the social and ecological framework of health while also building her epidemiological, statistical, and ethnographic skill set, she intends to study the relationship between the adoption of restrictive immigration policy measures and immigrant communities’ wellbeing. At Williams, she was the chair of Vista, the Latinx student organization, and the Coalition for Immigrant Student Advancement. She also participated in College Council, was a member of the Berkshire Doula Project, and was a dancer/choreographer for Ritmo Latino. In 2019, she was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.
Goldrosen, a mathematics and political science major from Brooklyn, N.Y., will pursue an M.Phil. in criminological research. He is particularly interested in researching the effectiveness of police oversight organizations at improving public perceptions of law enforcement via procedural justice. At Williams, he was active with the student newspaper and served as editor in a variety of capacities, including editor-in-chief. He also was co-president of the Junior Advisor Advisory Board and student chair of the Honor and Discipline Committee. As the recipient of two summer research fellowships, he examined the administration of justice in county courthouses across the United States, as well as privately-run juvenile alternative sentencing programs in Berkshire County.
Hine, a Chinese and computer science major from Chicago, Ill., plans to complete an M.Sc. in social sciences of the internet. With an interest in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) governance, she studied at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford during her junior year, where she conducted research at the university’s Centre for the Governance of AI. At Williams, she served on the Computer Science Student Advisory Committee and was a Chinese teaching assistant. In summer 2017, she attended the Harvard Beijing Academy, and she has completed internships in cybersecurity and information technology at Chicago-based companies Braintree and Beam Suntory, respectively.
Kromm, a chemistry and psychology major from Winchester, Mass., will pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neurosciences. With an interest in studying the relationship between sleep architecture, functional brain connectivity, and neurodevelopmental outcomes in vulnerable infants, she aims to study under the direction of neonatologist Topun Austin, co-director of neoLAB, a collaboration between the Cambridge Centre for Perinatal Neuroscience and the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory at University College London. At Williams, she was a peer tutor, lab teaching assistant, and research assistant in the chemistry department. She is currently a neuroscience thesis student in the Carter Lab, where she studies mouse feeding behavior using optogenetics.
Moore, a comparative literature major from Kunkletown, Pa., plans to pursue an M.Sc. in social anthropology, and then an M.St. in comparative literature and critical translation. Expanding on his senior thesis at Williams, which examines how the work of Jean Genet and Roberto Bolaño use comparison to frame global political issues, he aims to research the way in which many international political discourses, like that of human rights, take shape through different kinds of implicit and explicit comparison across national contexts. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, he has also written creative pieces for Adbusters as well as political articles and op-eds for Jacobin Magazine, The Berkshire Eagle, and The Williams Record.
The current question is whether the School Committee will continue to preserve a portion of the Williams capital gift for future extraordinary maintenance needs, like a new boiler or a new roof.
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The Rockwell Museum, Berkshire Botanical Garden, Chesterwood, Hancock Shaker Village, Naumkeag Public Garden and Historic Home, The Mount and Tanglewood will follow in the path of Williamstown's Clark Art Institute, which offers 140 acres of lawns, meadows and walking trails that have been open to... click for more