Joshua Silver

Honorary Degree Citation

2010 Honorary Degree Recipient Joshua Silver

Visionary. What else should we call a man who asked a simple question and found an answer that could help the world to see? An atomic physicist at the University of Oxford, you are a leading scholar of the use of lasers and electron-beam ion traps in the study of the quantum electrodynamics of highly charged ions. In 1985 your interest in optics turned you in a new direction. You asked yourself if it was possible to make eyeglass lenses that could be adjusted by the user as her vision changed, eliminating the need for expensive diagnostic tests. You realized how important this could be in poorer parts of the world, where eye care is scarce for the billion-plus people whose need for corrective lenses is sometimes a matter of survival. You found the answer in fluid-filled plastic membranes. But you did not stop there. By creating the Centre for Vision in the Developing World, you extended the benefits of your insight to a wide spectrum of humanity. Today, because of the foundation’s work, tens of thousands of user-adjustable spectacles have been distributed in more than 20 developing countries. Your steadfast refusal to sell your invention for monetary gain and your quest for philanthropic and governmental support have immeasurably improved the lives of many who would otherwise see only a blurred rendering of reality. But, predictably and admirably, you regard this achievement as only the beginning. Your goal is to distribute millions of eyeglasses each year at no cost to the recipients. By the year 2020, you hope, 20/20 vision will be enjoyed by a billion people worldwide thanks to the work of the foundation.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Joshua Silver, the degree of Doctor of Science, 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

Conferred May 23, 2010


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