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Posted 03.02.07

Five to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement

Wesleyan’s 175th Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 27, and will complete the 2007 Reunion-Commencement Celebration that will run from May 24-27. During that ceremony, the following people will receive honorary degrees:

Jim Lehrer, P ’85, who will also give the principal address at commencement, will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during the ceremony. Lehrer has anchored The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on the Public Broadcasting Service since 1995. Lehrer joined PBS in 1972, teaming with Robert MacNeil in 1973 to cover the Senate Watergate hearings. They began in 1975 what became The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, and, in 1983, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first 60-minute evening news program on television. Lehrer has been honored with numerous awards for journalism, including a presidential National Humanities Medal in 1999. In the last five presidential elections, he moderated 10 of the nationally televised candidate debates. Lehrer has written 15 novels, his latest, The Franklin Affair, published in April 2005. He also has written two memoirs and three plays. His daughter, Lucy Lehrer, is a member of Wesleyan's Class of 1985.

Nobutaka Machimura, former Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, currently serves as a member of the Japanese House of Representatives representing Hokkaido 5th District. As foreign minister of Japan from September 2004 to October 2005, his efforts were directed toward signing a treaty with Russia resolving a border dispute and toward investigating the whereabouts of Japanese hostages who had been kidnapped by North Korean agents during the 1970s and 1980s. Educated in economics at the University of Tokyo, he attended Wesleyan for one year as an exchange student. His career in public service has included appointments to the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the National Land Agency, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy (from which he retired as director of the planning division for petroleum). He also served as minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and director of the National Defense Division of the Policy Research Council. He has been elected to seven terms in the Japanese House of Representatives.

Alan M. Dachs ’70, P’98 serves as chair of the University's Development Committee. He served 14 years as a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees and eight years as Board chair. In that role, he led in fund-raising for the Wesleyan Campaign, as well as in strategic planning and in strengthening the University's finances, operations and reputation for academic excellence. He was elected trustee emeritus and chair emeritus in 2005 upon his retirement from the Board. Dachs is president and CEO of Fremont Group, a private investment company based in San Francisco.

Rosa DeLauro was elected to Congress from Connecticut's Third District in 1990 and is currently serving her ninth term. She sits on the House Appropriations and Budget committees. In addition to her work on the full committees, Representative DeLauro chairs the House Appropriations Subcomittee on Agriculture, which is responsible for funding the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Stamps program. She also sits on the Labor - Health, Human Services - Education and Commerce - Justice - Science Subcommittees. DeLauro has built a reputation as an advocate for economic development, healthcare and education. She has been a strong proponent for student aid, advocating such measures as increasing the size of Pell Grants in order to restore their purchasing power, allowing the consolidation of student loan debt and cutting interest rates to make student borrowing more affordable, and defending against cuts in programs that help to increase students' access to college , such as Upward Bound and TRIO. A frequent visitor to Wesleyan's campus and to Middletown, DeLauro has shown herself eager to meet and talk with faculty and students. She has strongly supported Wesleyan's efforts to establish and fund the Green Street Arts Center. Since she first came to Congress in 1990, DeLauro has put every pay raise she has received toward a scholarship program she founded in memory of her late father. To date, her scholarships have helped 420 students further their educations.

Jewel Plummer Cobb is renowned as a teacher, a research biologist, and an advocate for the participation of women and members of minority groups in the sciences. A graduate of Talladega College, she earned her Ph.D. in cell physiology at New York University. Her scientific research has centered on factors influencing the growth, morphology, and genetic expression of normal and neoplastic pigment cells and on the changes produced in vitro by chemotherapeutic agents, by hormones, and by other agents known to disrupt cell division. She taught at NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connecticut College before becoming dean of the college at Connecticut, then dean of Douglass College, and finally president of California State University at Fullerton. Currently president and professor of biological science, emerita, at Fullerton, Dr. Cobb continues to be active in promoting science education programs for minority youth and in promoting the greater representation of women in science. In 1993 the National Science Foundation honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to the Advancement of Women and Underrepresented Minorities.