June 6, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 19

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    More than 2,200 degrees to be conferred at Convocation

    GSB ceremony first since 1920s to be held outdoors A total of 2,258 degrees will be conferred upon students and three world-renowned scholars will receive honorary degrees during Spring Convocation ceremonies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 7, 8 and 9. The College session will also include the awarding of the Benton Medal to University Trustee and alumna Katharine Graham, chairman of the executive committee of the Washington Post Company (see story on this page).

    The ceremonies will be held in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel and, for the Graduate School of Business session, in Harper Quadrangle, marking the first time in nearly 70 years that a University convocation ceremony has taken place outdoors. The last outdoor convocation took place in Hutchinson Courtyard in 1928. Since 1929, when construction of Rockefeller Chapel was completed, all convocation ceremonies have been held indoors.

    "In past years, the GSB's June convocation resulted in student complaints about not having enough room in Rockefeller Chapel for their families," said Robert Hamada, Dean of the GSB. "With Hugo Sonnenschein's permission, I put the choice of dates and venues to a vote of our graduating students. They chose to have their graduation move from Friday to Sunday and be held outdoors in front of Stuart Hall, their classroom building. This event will show off our campus, which is so beautiful this time of year."

    Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, Political Science and the College, will deliver the Convocation address, "The Dead Have No Rights," at the first, second and third sessions. The third session will also include remarks by graduating seniors Richard Barrett, Jeanine Harvey and Amy Lehman. University Trustee Eric Gleacher will speak at the fourth session, for the Graduate School of Business. (See Convocation schedule on page 4.)

    Degrees to be conferred include 736 bachelor's degrees, 659 M.B.A.s, 467 master's degrees, 183 J.D.s, 98 M.D.s and 114 Ph.D.s.

    Honorary degrees will be awarded to three of the most distinguished scholars in their fields -- chemist William Klemperer, literary historian Jerome McGann and cosmologist David Wilkinson -- at the Friday afternoon session for the graduate divisions, the Divinity School, the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Master of Liberal Arts degree recipients.

    Klemperer, considered to be among the prime movers of science in the past half-century, will receive the Doctor of Science degree. He is the Erving Professor of Chemistry at Harvard.

    The first chemist to make full use of the molecular beam resonance technique, Klemperer constructed a powerful machine in the 1960s that he applied to the study of metal halides, oxides and hydrides, characterizing the physical and chemical properties of these molecules with unprecedented clarity and accuracy. In the 1970s, his studies of dimers and polymers opened up the field of the spectroscopy of weakly bound molecular complexes and paved the way for the development of the science of clusters. More recently, he played the decisive role in a unification of chemistry and astronomy: Klemperer was the first scientist to conceive of the idea that in interstellar space, where the temperature is extremely low, ion-neutral reactions play the central role because they proceed without activation energy.

    McGann, known as one of the most innovative and influential figures in literary studies in the past 25 years, will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree. McGann is the John Stewart Bryan Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He previously taught at Chicago and Johns Hopkins.

    McGann's work has had an international impact on the study of British Romantic, Victorian and modern literature and on the theory and practice of textual editing. His many essays and books on Romanticism, now classics in the field, have in large part redefined the field for the latest generation of scholars. McGann has been at least as influential in the modern development of textual editing and theory. In addition to having produced a multivolume, thoroughly revisionary critical edition of Byron's poetry, he is widely known for his pathbreaking contribution to editorial theory, insisting on the crucial relevance of the historical conditions under which texts are produced and circulated.

    Wilkinson, whose research on the cosmic background radiation established the current paradigm for big-bang cosmology, will receive the Doctor of Science degree. He is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor in the physics department at Princeton.

    Wilkinson was a member of the research group that predicted that radiation released by the "big bang" that gave birth to the universe could be detected as radio waves from space. He and his collaborators' experiments to study the cosmic background radiation have led to numerous findings, including the discovery of small variations in the intensity of the cosmic background radiation, a discovery that Stephen Hawking called the greatest discovery in cosmology ever. Wilkinson shares credit for one of the most precise measurements of the magnetic moment of a free electron, and he also was among a team of scientists who designed a small experimental package that was left on the moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts during man's first lunar-landing mission in 1969. The package contained 100 special reflectors and allowed the scientists to measure the distance from the earth to the moon with an accuracy of six inches.