Honorary Degree Citation
Globalist. Image maker. Feminist. Diplomat. Your childhood in apartheid-era South Africa, where your family held close ties to anti-apartheid activists, imbued in you a commitment to social justice and a deep appreciation for the importance of citizenship, public service, and working for the public good. As a feminist CEO, your leadership ethic placed your company, Discovery Communications, among the best places to work in the United States. As the head of one of the world’s most successful media companies, you showcased the power of media to educate and connect people in culturally relevant ways across borders. You ensured that your educational programming was available across countries, ages, and income levels, and your commitment to corporate social responsibility was imprinted on Discovery Communications. Your global vision similarly defined your work with the Africa Growth Fund, which connected investors to the delivery of needed services and products in African countries. Your emphasis on cultural humility, global connections, and respect informs your current work as chief U.S. image maker, a job that you understand to be about listening and engaging at the grassroots level. As you told an audience in Bangladesh, “The process of opening minds and engendering mutual understanding does not and cannot be sparked only through high-level diplomatic meetings or negotiations between great corporations. The foundations for mutual understanding begin at the people-to-people level and require years, even decades, to be built. And the work is never done.” Your life offers a model of how that work should and can be done.
By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Judith McHale, the degree of Doctor of Laws, 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