The University Record, November 22, 1999

U to award three honorary degrees at winter commencement

By Wono Lee
News and Information Services

Neeme Jarvi, music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Grace Paley, author and poet; and Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, will receive honorary degrees from the University at winter commencement Dec. 19.

The recommendations for honorary degrees were approved by the Regents at their November meeting.

Jarvi, who will receive an honorary doctor of music degree, became the 11th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1990, his first such position with an American symphony orchestra. Internationally acclaimed for his performances with orchestras and opera houses around the world, he also is one of the world’s most recorded conductors.

He was born in Estonia where he made his conducting debut at the age of 18. He became music director of the Estonian Radio & Television Orchestra and was appointed chief conductor of the Estonia Opera House in Tallinn. In 1980, he and his family left the Soviet Union and settled in the United States.

Paley, who will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, is known primarily for her short stories, but also is an essayist, poet and novelist. She has lived most of her life in New York City, which provides the setting for many of her short stories. Her first collection, The Little Disturbances of Man, was published in 1959. In 1989, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo named her the first official New York State Writer. Paley also spent many years as an anti-war and peace activist, and was the founder of the Greenwich Village Peace Center. She has taught at Columbia University, Syracuse University and Sarah Lawrence College.

Prodi, former prime minister of Italy, is president of the European Commission, which acts as the quasi-government of Europe. He began his academic career at the University of Bologna in 1963, becoming professor of industrial organization and industrial policy in 1971. He was called to governmental service, first as Italy’s minister of industry in 1978–79 and was chairman, in 1982–89 and 1993–94, of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, the holding company that controlled most of Italy’s public enterprises. In 1995, he formed his own political coalition, which in 1996 won the Italian election and he became prime minister.

Prodi, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, will be the main speaker.