Speakers and honorands

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Commencement speaker, Doctor of Laws: Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden served eight years in that role following 36 years as a U.S. Senator from Delaware. As Senator he served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As vice president, Biden visited more than 50 countries and worked on important issues, including middle-class living standards, gun violence, violence against women, and the battle against cancer. Since leaving office Biden, along with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has turned his focus to the Biden Foundation, which aims to advance much of his previous work. He will also lead the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania and the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.

Honorary Degree Citation

Joseph R. BidenA public servant in the truest sense of the word, you saw government as your path to improving the lives of all Americans, all people. You turned personal challenges into inspiration for action, most recently through your efforts to combat the devastating effects of cancer. As a senator and the 47th vice president of the United States, your work to advance global diplomacy, to fight violence, and to ensure a better future for middle-class families and our country’s veterans has shown that change is possible through passionate advocacy.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the degree of doctor of laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 21, 2017


Amy Walter ’91

Baccalaureate speaker, Doctor of Letters: Amy Walter ’91

As national editor of the Cook Political Report, Amy Walter ’91 provides analysis of the issues, trends, and events that shape the political environment. Walter has built a reputation as an accurate, objective, and insightful political analyst with unparalleled access to campaign insiders and decision makers. Known as one of the best political journalists covering Washington, she is the former political director of ABC News. She is also a regular panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and Fox News’s Special Report with Bret Baier.

Honorary Degree Citation

Amy Walter '91Trusted and respected by people across the political spectrum, you have earned extraordinary access to the American political system and its practitioners, and that access contributes to your unique understanding of the nexus of public opinion and national politics. Your ability to synthesize disparate strands of information into a genome of knowledge makes your commentary invaluable to the media and the American people. Your integrity and objectivity, your understanding of political history, and your rare acumen have well served our democracy and have brought honor to you and your alma mater.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Amy Walter, the degree of doctor of letters, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 21, 2017


Yoshihiro Taskishita

Doctor of Fine Arts: Yoshihiro Takishita

Trained as an architect, author, lecturer, and preservationist Yoshihiro Takishita has preserved more than 35 centuries-old rural Japanese dwellings, reconstructing them in new locations (four outside Japan) as modern homes. His work has been celebrated in Japan and abroad and has been featured in many publications, including Architectural Digest, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He has lectured at Colby College and Harvard University and is the author of Japanese Country Style: Putting New Life into Old Houses.

Honorary Degree Citation

Yoshihiro TakishitaFrom an early age you have led a movement to preserve rural Japanese culture as a rescuer and restorer of traditional Japanese farmhouses. Initially trained in law, you studied architecture as your work to save and renovate dozens of these elegant, centuries-old “houses of the people” became a calling and a crusade. Your passion for these antique, folk-crafted monuments to rural domestic life helped redefine progress, finding inspiration in the past. Your reverence for the sturdiness and grandeur of this traditional Japanese dwelling established the minka, as these homes are known, as a vessel of memory for your culture.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Yoshihiro Takishita, the degree of doctor of fine arts, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 21, 2017


Warren Washington

Doctor of Science: Warren Washington

As a research scientist for 50 years, Warren Washington had presidential appointments in the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations, and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest science award, by President Barack Obama. In his current role, he leads a group that uses state-of-the-art computer climate models to study present and future climate change. His publication credits exceed 150, and he coauthored a book considered a standard reference on climate modeling.

Honorary Degree Citation

Warren WashingtonPioneer in computer modeling of Earth’s atmospheric systems. Advisor to generations of American presidents. Respected leader of prestigious national scientific initiatives. Mentor and advocate for diversity in the sciences. For more than a half century, your life’s work has propelled scientific understanding of one of humanity’s most troubling legacies and challenges: global climate change. Combining climate science and sophisticated computation modeling, then using findings in advocacy and policy work, your career is a model of Colby’s belief that multidisciplinary approaches to real-world problems holds our best hope for the future welfare of our planet and humankind.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Warren Washington, the degree of doctor of science, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma are the visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars.

Conferred May 21, 2017


Senior class speaker: Muhebullah Esmat

Esmat, an art history major from Kabul, Afghanistan, has curated art exhibitions and worked at the Colby Museum of Art as a Mellon Program research assistant. He was chosen as speaker by vote of the senior class.

Special recognition: Michelle Boucher

Boucher, of Fryeburg, Maine, was the recipient of Colby’s Condon Medal for engaged citizenship. A psychology major and sociology and human development double minor, Boucher has been described by President David A. Greene as “a committed advocate, organizer, and leader.”

Commencement

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