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Posted 04.01.06

Honorary Degrees, Medals Awarded during 174th Commencement

Wesleyan will commemorate its 175th anniversary of its institutional charter during the 174th Commencement Ceremonies May 25-28. Wesleyan’s charter was granted on May 26, 1831.

John Hope Franklin, professor of history, emeritus at Duke University will give the principal address at commencement and will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony.

In addition, Wesleyan will award honorary doctors of letters to Mary O. McWilliams '71, president of Regence BlueShield, pioneering alumna and trustee emerita.

Franklin is an internationally-renowned historian, intellectual leader and lifelong civil rights activist. He has served on the National Council on the Humanities, as well as the President's Advisory Commissions on Public Diplomacy and on Ambassadorial Appointments. Franklin's numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than 100 colleges and universities.

McWilliams '71 previously served as president of PacifiCare of Washington where she converted the provider network into groups, expanded statewide, and launched Secure Horizons as a Medicare-Risk plan. She also served as founding chief executive officer for the Sisters of Providence Health Plans in Oregon. She received a bachelor's degree in American studies from Wesleyan.

Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal to Jean Shaw P‘79 and Biff Shaw ‘51, P’79. As an alumni leader, Biff Shaw’s diligent effort on behalf of Wesleyan underscores his commitment to public service. Jean Shaw has served Wesleyan since 1969 in many roles including director of the Center for the Arts, coordinator for exhibitions, events manger and coordinator of University Lectures. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown. She played a key role as Reunion and Commencement coordinator and oversaw the joining of Reunion and Commencement into one weekend.
 

The commencement ceremony is scheduled to be held on Andrus Field, where seating will be unlimited. President Doug Bennet invites all parent-educators to participate in the academic procession.

“This initiative was introduced at the 1997 commencement and is becoming a much-beloved tradition at Wesleyan,” Bennet says. “I look forward to welcoming everyone to Wesleyan on this wonderful occasion.”

Academic regalia will be worn by all who participate in the procession and can be ordered through the campus bookstore.

The Office of the Dean of the College will contact graduating seniors with information regarding graduation announcements and activities for Reunion and Commencement Weekend.