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She delivered the Commencement address and received an honorary degree in 2006

Deborah Bial, founder and president of the Posse Foundation, is one of 24 recipients of 2007 MacArthur Fellowships from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Bial was the principal speaker at Lafayette’s 171st Commencement in 2006 and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.

  • View Bial’s Commencement address.
  • Lafayette’s Posse Scholars featured on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

The fellowships, or “genius awards,” as they are commonly called, recognize people in a variety of fields for their creativity and promise. Each new fellow receives an award of $500,000, which is meant to encourage future exploration and comes with no strings attached.

Founded by Bial in 1989, the Posse Foundation identifies, recruits, and trains student leaders from public high schools to form multicultural teams called posses. These teams are then prepared through an intensive training program for enrollment at top-tier colleges and universities nationwide to pursue their academic careers and to help promote cross-cultural communication on campus.

Lafayette’s successful involvement with Posse began in the fall of 2002.

“By advancing diversity as a core value, Debbie Bial is having a transformative impact on American higher education, and therefore on our nation and the world,” says President Daniel Weiss.

“We are all challenged in this era of polarization within our society to remember the central importance of education to the proper functioning of a democracy and the training of an enlightened citizenry and to reaffirm the benefits of intellectual pluralism, social tolerance, and open debate. With remarkable vision, energy, and compassion Debbie is helping bring about greater social and intellectual pluralism on American campuses. This is diversity in the broadest sense, which enriches the educational possibilities for us all,” Weiss says.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition.

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