University of Rochester

University of Rochester 146th Commencement Highlights

April 25, 1996


David Kearns, advocate for education reform and former Xerox Corp. CEO, will deliver the commencement address at the University of Rochester's 146th commencement. Kearns ('52) will receive the Hutchison Medal, given to an outstanding alumnus, at the 9 a.m. ceremony on Sunday, May 26.

Commencement ceremonies for bachelor's and master's degree candidates will be staged outdoors on the Eastman Quadrangle and will proceed even in the event of showers. Contingency plans, in case of a truly dangerous storm, will be announced later.

The commencement ceremony for all degree candidates of the School of Medicine and Dentistry will be held Saturday, May 25, at 10 a.m. in Eastman Theatre. Receiving degrees at the doctoral degree commencement, to be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in Eastman Theatre, will be Ph.D., D.M.A., and Ed.D. candidates from the College, School of Engineering, Eastman School of Music, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and the School of Nursing.

The William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration commencement will take place Sunday, June 9 in the Eastman Theatre.

Degrees to be awarded: 2,761 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees

Awards to be given at the bachelor's and master's degrees ceremony Sunday, May 26:

David Kearns, Hutchison Medal

The Hutchison Medal, first awarded in 1977, is the highest honor the University gives its alumni; it recognizes outstanding achievements and notable service to community, state, or nation.

David Kearns, this year's Hutchison medalist and commencement speaker, once said that our nation's greatest natural resources are the minds and hearts of its people. For this reason, Mr. Kearns has proved a tireless supporter of the University's mission and a leader in national education reform.

Kearns was tapped in 1991 to become deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, where he earned high marks for a conciliatory negotiating style. He left in 1993 to become a senior university fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education for two years; he currently serves on the executive committee for the Harvard Project on Schooling and Children.

A strong desire to strive for excellence also served him well as chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp. from 1982 to 1990. Under his leadership during those crucial years, Xerox demonstrated to the world that American business could reinvent itself and compete successfully in a global economy. He co-wrote a book, Prophets in the Dark, detailing the rebound at Xerox.

Today he continues his passion for reform as chairman of the board of New American Schools Development Corp. The private, nonprofit organization was established by American corporate and foundation leaders in 1991 to explore ways to improve American education. He co-wrote Winning the Brain Race, which outlines a plan to make American schools competitive.

A 1952 business administration graduate of the University, Kearns also served in the Navy. He is a trustee of the University and the Ford Foundation.

Thomas Hahn, Edward Peck Curtis Award for Undergraduate Teaching

If one word could describe Thomas Hahn's unique teaching style, that word would be "enthusiasm." As an associate professor of English specializing in medieval studies, Hahn's devotion to scholarship and to teaching has earned him the respect of students and faculty alike.

Since his appointment at the University in 1973, Hahn's unconventional methods have made their mark. Students past and present praise his contagious interest in course materials and literature. Preferring class discussion to lecture, Hahn develops the intellectual growth of his students by allowing them to work out their own conclusions, rather than besetting them with his own.

Genuine personal concern for his students keeps Hahn on a first-name basis long after final exams have been graded. Students line up outside his office to explore research topics, seek advice on graduate school, or simply chat. Many of his students have gone on to win Mellon Fellowships, NEH Younger Scholar Awards, and other honors.

As the former director of Medieval House and the Early Connection Orientation, a pre-freshman program, Hahn's commitment to the undergraduate community has also extended beyond the academic sphere.

The Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching was established by Edward Peck Curtis Sr., a life trustee who died in 1987. It has been awarded annually since 1962.

Honorary degree to be given at School of Medicine and Dentistry Commencement Ceremony, Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m. in Eastman Theatre:

Joseph Martin, Doctor of Medicine

From North America to Europe and South Africa to Hong Kong, neurologist and University of Rochester alumnus Joseph Martin has shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for neurological research.

Martin, the chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, received a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester's Department of Anatomy in 1971. He lectures, teaches and writes extensively. With major research interests that include neuroendocrinology and molecular genetics of neurologic disorders, Martin holds a patent for his method of treating prolactin-related disorders.

Martin also is a professor of neurology and dean of the School of Medicine at UC San Francisco. He holds two honorary degrees, conferred by Harvard and McGill universities, and has been invited to lecture by dozens of organizations around the world, including the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Physicians, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Martin has written hundreds of medical articles, reviews and books, and has served on the editorial boards of such respected publications as the New England Journal of Medicine and American Journal of Medicine.

Awards to be given at the Doctoral Degree Commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 25, 3 p.m. in Eastman Theatre:

Ross Watts, University Graduate Teaching Award

Ross Watts, professor of accounting at the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, draws praise for his persistent attention to student success and tireless devotion to the school's Ph.D. program.

Colleagues and former students alike say this year's winner of the University Award for Graduate Teaching is accessible and eager to regard students as equals in scholarly pursuits. Often he presents his own papers for criticism and input. He draws praise for insightful comments and quick turnaround on student papers.

One former student, who like many of Watts' former students now teaches at a leading business school, remarks: "He was always available to talk with me about my research, despite many other (often pressing) demands on his time." Others write that they apply the "Ross-model" to their own classroom and one-on-one endeavors.

Watts' dedication to the Simon School's Ph.D. program is a primary reason for its success producing outstanding Ph.D. graduates, colleagues say; top business schools vie for his students. In addition, since his arrival in 1971, he has played a major role in shaping the school's teaching and research agenda in accounting.

The University Award for Graduate Teaching was established in 1987 to recognize faculty members who have excelled in graduate instruction, especially in doctoral programs. The award complements the longstanding Edward Peck Curtis Award for undergraduate teaching.

Richard McKelvey, Distinguished Rochester Scholar

Interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving have earned Richard McKelvey kudos as an innovative scholar.

McKelvey earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University in 1971. Now a professor of political science at California Institute of Technology, McKelvey has the rare ability to tackle problems through a combination of disciplines and techniques. His current research ranges from analyzing the importance of information and learning for voting and other behavior, applying evolutionary models to political matters, and developing sophisticated mechanisms to help analyze game theory situations. His research is published in the scholarly journals of a wide range of disciplines, including computer science, economics, political science, and statistics.

For the profound impact his theories have had on a wide variety of fields, McKelvey in 1993 was selected for membership in the National Academy of Sciences, one of only a handful of political scientists to receive the honor. He also is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the Econometric Society.

George Walker, Distinguished Rochester Scholar

Winning the 1996 Pulitzer Prize in Music is George Walker's latest achievement in a successful career.

A 1957 doctoral graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for his composition, Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra. He is the first black composer and the eighth Eastman-affiliated composer to win the prestigious honor since its inception in 1943.

Walker has built an impressive career as a pianist, composer, and educator. He has published more than 70 works in a variety of compositional forms, and they have been performed by virtually every important orchestra in this country and England. Following graduation from Oberlin College, Walker attended the Curtis Institute. He toured Europe for several years before enrolling at Eastman. After graduation, he returned to Europe on Fulbright and John Hay Whitney fellowships. Throughout his career, Walker also received two Guggenheim and two Rockefeller Foundation fellowships, as well as five National Endowment for the Arts awards and numerous research grants.

Walker has held academic appointments at Smith College, the University of Colorado, Peabody Institute, and the University of Delaware. He was a distinguished professor at Rutgers University before retiring in 1992.