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Updated 2:30 PM March 21, 2007




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Clinton, four more to receive honorary degrees at Commencement

William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, who has continued his life in public service supporting humanitarian causes since serving two terms in the nation's highest office, will receive an honorary degree at Spring Commencement, where he also will deliver the main address.

Clinton will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, approved by the Board of Regents in January. At its March 15 meeting the board also approved honorary degrees for: J. Max Bond, Jr., Doctor of Fine Arts; Philip Converse, Doctor of Science; Charles Tilly, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Irma Wyman, Doctor of Engineering.

"Since leaving office in 2000, President Clinton has set a wonderful example for public service by lending his name, effective advocacy and international experience in tackling recovery from natural disasters, effective programs and preventive measures against HIV-AIDS infection, and wide-spread infectious diseases that frequently plague developing countries," says President Mary Sue Coleman. "In doing so, he has reached beyond partisan rhetoric and created a new service expectation and standard for our graduates," she says.

Commencement is at 10 a.m. April 28 in Michigan Stadium. Converse will be the main speaker at the University Graduate Exercises to be held in Hill Auditorium at 1 p.m. April 27.

William Jefferson Clinton

Clinton's life of public service spans the decades before and the years following his two presidential terms.
Clinton (Photo courtesy Clinton Foundation)

He was born in 1946 in Hope, Ark., when that state was deeply divided by class and race. His experience of that segregated society had a profound impact on his commitment to justice and opportunity for all people.

Clinton earned scholarships that funded his education at Georgetown University, where in 1968 he earned his bachelor's degree. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar that year, studied at Oxford University, then entered the Yale University Law School. After receiving his Juris Doctorate in 1973, he returned to his home state as a faculty member at the University of Arkansas, became the state attorney general in 1976 and was elected to five terms as governor.

As president, he provided momentum and vision to a wide array of national and international issues. He made a strong economy a cornerstone of his agenda, knowing that full participation in a growing economy is the best way to combat the inequity of poverty and racism. He also acted on a core conviction that higher education is the key to the growth needed to be globally competitive.

In recent years, Clinton has been involved in national and international issues and has pursued humanitarian work, including efforts on behalf of the victims of the Southeast Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. He created the William J. Clinton Foundation to promote and address international causes such as treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and global warming. In 2004 he published his autobiography, titled "My Life."

J. Max Bond, Jr.

Prominent architect and partner in the New York firm Davis Brody Bond and Associates, Bond has expressed his ideals of precision, creativity and social justice through the many buildings he has designed around the world.
Bond (Photo by Fred Conrad, NY Times)

Born into an academic family, he entered Harvard University at age 16 and earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture in the 1950s. Though he excelled in his studies, he was told to abandon his career in architecture because the field would not welcome an African-American.

Following a time in Paris as a Fulbright scholar, Bond returned to the United States where, because of his race, it was difficult to secure interviews at prominent architectural firms. He eventually found employment and, after obtaining his architecture license, moved to Ghana for four years, where his projects include the innovative Bolgatanga Library.

Returning to the United States, Bond directed the Architects Renewal Committee of Harlem, became a professor at Columbia University and then Dean of the School of Environmental Studies at the City College of New York. He cofounded the firm of Bond Ryder and Associates, an African-American firm that later became Davis Brody Bond and Associates. His many projects include leading the team that is designing "Reflecting Absence," the memorial for the 9/11 victims at the World Trade Center. Among Bond's most noteworthy projects are the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and major buildings on the campuses of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, and many other universities.

In 2003 Bond was the Charles Moore Visiting Professor in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received numerous awards for his designs.

Philip Converse

Converse, U-M emeritus professor of political science, has made a profound impact on the public's understanding of the electoral process and political behavior. His affiliation with the University began 50 years ago, and included three decades as a faculty member.
Converse (Photo courtesy Philip Converse)

He earned a bachelor's degree from Denison University and a master's degree from the University of Iowa. He was drafted into the U.S. Army soon after graduating. After the service, he studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris and then decided to enter programs in the social sciences at U-M, where he received two graduate degrees, including a doctorate in social psychology. He joined the department of sociology and later became director of the Institute for Social Research before leaving to become the director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, from which he retired in 1994.

In his early years at Michigan, Converse conducted groundbreaking research on the National Election Study series of the Survey Research Center and established a national reputation for his acute analysis and insight regarding voting behavior in the United States. He co-authored the book "The American Voter" and later expanded on his research by authoring and collaborating on books such as "The Human Meaning of Social Change" and "The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations, and Satisfactions." During the Cold War he traveled behind the Iron Curtain as the U.S. investigator in a study of the public's use of time in 12 nations on both sides of that divide.

Converse has received numerous awards and honors, including a Henry Russel Lectureship. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, and last year he received an honorary degree from Harvard University.

Charles Tilly

Tilly, the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science at Columbia University, has created a prolific and celebrated body of work that has transformed the understanding of politics and social change.
Tilly (Photo courtesy Charles Tilly)

He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard University in the 1950s. He also studied at Oxford University in that decade and served in the U.S. Navy amphibious forces. He has taught at a number of universities around the world, with long-term appointments that started at the University of Delaware and continued at Harvard University and U-M before moving to Columbia.

Tilly's research focuses on large-scale social change and its relationship to contentious politics, especially in Europe since 1500. His influential early publications focused on urbanization and industrial conflict, and his major books on French society have illuminated the nature of collective action during historically significant events of public protest. His theories on mass protest and collective action had roots in his work in sociology as director of the U-M Center for Research on Social Organization. He has authored more than 600 articles and essays, and written or edited 50 books. His newest book, due from Cambridge University Press this year, is "Democracy."

Tilly is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Philosophical Society. He has served on committees, including international advisory councils for the Russian Academy of Sciences and the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. He is the recipient of many international awards, including the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight of the Order of Academic Palms) by the French government, one of the world's oldest civil awards.

Irma Wyman

Throughout her life, from her student days as one of few women in the U-M College of Engineering (CoE), to a successful career in what was at the time the new field of computing and now as Archdeacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, Wyman has been a trailblazing leader.
Wyman (Photo courtesy Irma Wyman)

Gifted in mathematics as a child, Wyman was awarded a scholarship to enroll at U-M in 1945, majoring in engineering mathematics in the CoE. She encountered continual skepticism and discouragement because of her gender and was pressured to leave the college when the G.I. Bill began to bring large numbers of men back from the armed services. Nevertheless, the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, which accepted only men, gave her an honorary membership. She graduated and proceeded to overcome the same types of resistance as she advanced through several start-up companies in the evolving computer industry. She developed expertise in digital processing, becoming an innovator and creating new applications in a field that was not even on the horizon during her college years. She eventually joined the multi-national controls company Honeywell, Inc., and completed her first career as its first female vice president.

After her retirement from the world of business, Wyman began a second career in the Episcopal Church. Eight years after ordination, she was appointed Archdeacon, and now she assists the Bishop of Minnesota in the deployment and supervision of clergy.

For two decades Wyman has been involved with the U-M Center for the Education of Women. She has served on the center's advisory board, and established a scholarship for women who are pursuing degrees in engineering, computer science and related fields. In 2001 she received the highest alumna honor of CoE, the Alumni Society Medal, for her significant contributions to the field of engineering.

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