Honorary Degree Citation
Change maker. In your 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control, you helped to transform attitudes toward HIV/AIDS, making it a public health issue to be treated with compassion rather than a disease to be suffered in isolation. At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, you extended to the global community programs for HIV, tuberculosis, and reproductive health. As president and CEO of CARE USA, your goal is no less than to end global hunger. In 2006 the Wall Street Journal called you one of the 50 women to watch, and in 2008 Newsweek named you one of 10 women in leadership, citing your bold vision and unswerving dedication to the least advantaged in society. As a child you learned the burden that poor health presents to families, but you also learned there are no limits to what a dedicated individual can achieve. Your personal touch as a pediatrician has been scaled up to touch the lives of millions across the globe. Equally at ease with the elite and the disenfranchised, you have an extraordinary talent for bringing people together to address the root causes of poor health and poverty. Your work exemplifies the power of a woman standing up for women. Idealistic yet practical, you convert daring ideas into international health achievements. You have written that, “Optimism with a healthy dose of realism is a winning combination.” We are certainly more optimistic about the health and welfare of millions with you leading the charge to empower communities around the world in the fight against poverty.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Helene Gayle, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.
Conferred May 23, 2010