Honorary Degree Citation
David Simon. Reporter, author, screenwriter, producer. Your brilliant innovations have forever changed our understanding of television’s capacity to tell our most important national stories in powerfully moving and compelling ways. You have defied convention, formula, genre, and stereotype to create a richly detailed, deeply humane portrait of life in your beloved Baltimore and to reveal exhilarating new artistic possibilities in a familiar and oft-dismissed medium. During your thirteen years as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, including the years spent researching your two award-winning nonfiction books, you developed a sophisticated understanding of the complex challenges faced by America’s great cities and the people who live in them. By bringing your stories to television, in Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Corner, and The Wire, you have given life to an extraordinary array of complicated and intriguing characters who struggle to do their jobs well and to sustain dignified and meaningful lives in the most difficult circumstances. Through the utterly absorbing, realistic narratives of these shows, you have taught us to understand not only the devastating human consequences of the economic transformations of recent decades, but also the failure of our social and political institutions to mitigate the effects of these changes on many of our fellow citizens. By making us care so much about these characters, and by delineating their plight and their humanity so vividly and precisely, you recall us to our obligations to a social contract battered by our neglect. And by the example of your own fierce moral vision, you inspire us to compassion and to action.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, David Simon, the degree of Doctor of 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 25, 2008
David Simon, author, journalist, and television writer-producer, began as a police reporter at the Baltimore Sun. His experiences on the crime beat led to his Edgar Award-winning book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, an account of the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Unit that became the basis for NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street. Simon co-wrote and produced the Emmy-award winning miniseries The Corner for HBO and recently completed the fifth season of HBO’s The Wire. Simon has received three George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting, a Writers Guild Award for best writing in an episodic drama, and a Humanitas Award in the same category. Simon currently freelances for the Washington Post, the New Republic, and Details magazine.