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President Daniel Weiss conferred honorary degrees upon Michael Beschloss, award-winning historian and author;The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, distinguished preacher and professor at Harvard University; Michael H. Moskow ’59, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Lou Reda, documentary filmmaker and Executive Producer of Lou Reda Productions; and Faith Ringgold acclaimed artist and author, today at the 172nd Commencement.

The candidates were introduced by Alan R. Griffith ’64, chair of the Board of Trustees. Weiss read the citations.

MICHAEL R. BESCHLOSS,

Your books affirm the maxim that the best histories are written by those who ask the best questions. In The Conquerors you ponder the impact of specific decisions made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman on the subsequent transformation of Nazi Germany into a flourishing democracy in the decades after World War II. In Presidential Courage you examine the seminal moments in American history when our leaders took extraordinary personal and professional risks in order to pursue their vision of this nation’s greatness.

The questions you raise about character and courage, about leadership and loyalty, and about politics and principle defy easy answers. Yet you never hesitate to probe deeply into the intricate – and sometimes discomfiting – process of presidential decision-making. You are equally adept as a narrator, enriching your analysis through the dramatic retelling of events to make history both more memorable and more meaningful.

In Presidential Courage you quote Harry Truman’s recollection that he had “read his eyes out about the leadership qualities of his predecessors” in order to fulfill his responsibilities as chief executive. It is our immense good fortune that your important and insightful work has opened our eyes to some of the remarkably transformative moments in the history of the American presidency.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF LETTERS, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May nineteenth
Two thousand and seven

Daniel H. Weiss, President

PETER J. GOMES,

John Kenneth Galbraith said of you that “Second only to the President of the University,” you were “the best known member of the Harvard community. And without any close competition at all, [you were] the best loved.”

The conviction and compassion with which you profess your faith have earned you ardent admirers in Harvard Yard – and far beyond. You are revered for the courage and forthrightness of your belief, the generosity and warmth with which you welcome those who are excluded from traditional faith communities, and the unwavering integrity with which you fulfill your special calling.

Although you speak openly about your race, your political views, your vocational and personal interests, and your life as a gay man, you refuse to let any of those things define you. “The one thing” you wish to be known as, you have said, is “a Christian.” Whether your theme is the Good Book or the Good Life, this cherished core of your identity is truly the foundation for your ministry, the touchstone for your tolerance, and the catalyst for your good works. Your message is a powerful resource and guide for everyone who seeks what you have called the “truths that last in times of need.”

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF DIVINITY, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May nineteenth
Two thousand and seven

Daniel H. Weiss, President

MICHAEL H. MOSKOW,

Although the first thing Lafayette students usually mention after completing one of the externships you sponsor is the literally billions of dollars they saw in the vault at your place of business, they are almost as awed by the opportunity to be mentored by someone who is instrumental in shaping U.S. economic policy and whose decisions also influence monetary policies on a global scale.

Your knowledge and experience are valued at the highest levels. Alan Greenspan has noted his reliance on your “keen mind and steady hand” during deliberations in a “constantly evolving economic environment.” His successor, Ben Bernanke, has praised your “thoughtful insights, leadership, and expertise.” Success in a field as complex and demanding as yours requires superior analytical and organizational skills, a comprehensive grounding in theory and principles, and steadfast respect for – and confidence in – the free-market system.

The considerable demands of your professional life have never diminished your commitment to your college. We are fortunate – and enormously grateful – that you have devoted yourself to Lafayette with the same diligence and dedication that have earned you such high regard throughout your career.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF PUBLIC SERVICE, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May nineteenth
Two thousand and seven

Daniel H. Weiss, President

LOUIS J. REDA,

For more than thirty years you have produced high-quality documentary films that have educated and entertained appreciative viewers in this country and abroad. Although your service in the Navy during World War II has given you a special interest in military matters, history is by no means the sole focus of your camera’s lens. Your wide-angle vision also encompasses subjects as varied as Norman Rockwell and Italian cooking.

You have a special gift for making topics as diverse as these accessible to a broad audience. Equally impressive is your adherence to the highest production standards in all of your work. Your artistry is evident in both the quality of the fresh footage you use and in your skillful incorporation of archival resources.

On this occasion, Lou, we celebrate not only your important achievements as a documentary filmmaker but also the exciting and energetic partnerships you have forged with members of the Lafayette community, including our students and faculty. In addition to being exceptionally generous with your time, talents, and expertise, you further support our academic mission by sharing materials from your extensive personal film archives.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF ARTS, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May nineteenth
Two thousand and seven

Daniel H. Weiss, President

FAITH RINGGOLD,

David Brigham, the executive director of the Allentown Art Museum, has called you “a truth teller, whose honesty is evident in both her visual and verbal communications.”

That honesty has defined your artistic vision since early in your childhood, when you began to give shape, through drawing, to “your small world and the people in it.” As your real and imaginative worlds expanded, so did your reach – and boldness – as an artist. Sensing that images by themselves could not convey the essential truths of your history and heritage, you added words and quilting, then moved far beyond canvas and frame to create masks and dolls, soft sculptures, embroidered and appliqu├ęd fabrics, and powerful performance pieces.

The verb that anchors the title of your memoirs – we flew over the bridge –conveys the soaring magic of your imagination. For as the wise and generous young Cassie Louise Lightfoot explains at the end of Tar Beach, “Anyone can fly, all you have to do is have somewhere to go that you can’t get to any other way, and the next thing you know you’re flying among the stars.” You yourself are an exuberant and intrepid traveler among constellations. And through your art, you have transported each of us to places that enlarge our own capacity to understand – and to dream.

THEREFORE, by the authority granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Trustees of Lafayette College and by them delegated to me, I award you the degree of DOCTOR OF FINE ARTS, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereto appertaining, in token whereof I present you with this diploma and direct that you be vested in the hood emblematic of the degree.

May nineteenth
Two thousand and seven

Daniel H. Weiss, President

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