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MCLA Announces Keynote Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients for 111th Commencement

04/02/2010

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Anita F. Hill, Attorney and Brandeis University Professor of Law, Public Policy, and Women's Studies, will deliver the keynote address to the members of the class of 2010 who will receive their Bachelors' and Masters' degrees and Certificates of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) at the ceremony. Hill will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Also receiving honorary degrees this year will be business executive and former MCLA Trustee Foster Devereux who will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service, Academy Award-winning painter Stephen Hannock who will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, and MCLA alumna, educator, and community volunteer Josetta Owen '65 who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities.

In recognition of their awards, the honorary degree recipients will have books placed in MCLA's Freel Library in their names.

President Mary K. Grant said "I am so pleased to recognize the achievements of these remarkable individuals. Each does important and significant work that identifies them as leaders in their respective fields of endeavor. Their achievements - be it Anita Hill's accomplishments as an attorney, educator, and champion of equality, Foster Devereux's tireless dedication to public higher education, the creative economy, and economic development and revitalization in our region, Stephen Hannock's innovative and breathtaking artwork, or Jo Owen's commitment to service at home and abroad - mark them as individuals for our students and graduates to be inspired by and emulate. I cannot wait to honor each of them at this year's Commencement.

MCLA Board of Trustees Chair Jane Allen applauded those who will be honored.

"Anita Hill is a woman of rare accomplishment and insight," Allen said. "Foster Devereux is a great friend to MCLA, and to so many other venues in Berkshire County. Stephen Hannock is part of that long tradition of world class artists who have called our region home. And Josetta Owen demonstrates that when matched to a compassionate and committed heart, MCLA's proud liberal arts tradition truly can make the world a better place."

Anita F. Hill received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1980. She began her career in private practice in Washington, D.C., with a focus on banking law and litigation. Before becoming a law professor, she worked as an advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Education Department and the Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1989, Hill became the first African American to be tenured at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

In 1991, Anita Hill was thrust into the public spotlight when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Clarence Thomas. After the hearing, she began speaking to audiences throughout the United States and internationally about social and political problems facing the world.

Professor Hill has written commentary for Time, Inc., Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Ms. Magazine and appears regularly on national television programs including Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The Today Show, The Tavis Smiley Show and Larry King Live.

Professor Hill recently received the Ford Hall Forum's First Amendment Award for her promotion of gender and race equality. She is especially proud of receiving the Fletcher Fellowship for her work aimed at ending educational disparities among poor and minority students. That award was created in 2004 on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education and is given to institutions and individuals working to fulfill the goals of that landmark decision.

Foster Devereux served as an officer and director of Allen and Company, a New York-based investment banking firm. He is a graduate of Williams College.

As a community leader, and as a former Trustee of MCLA from 1992 to 2002, Devereux is a long-time champion of public higher education. He has a commitment and passion to help create accessibility through the increase of student scholarships. As a trustee, he was a lead advocate for what was then North Adams State College to be recognized as a leading community partner and one of the critical economic engines for North Adams and Berkshire County. He remains involved with building support for the College, most recently as a member of the MCLA Foundation Ad-Hoc Fundraising Committee.

He is a trustee emeritus of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and of the MASS MoCA Cultural Development Commission. Through his work with MASS MoCA, Devereux was at the forefront of efforts to establish North Adams as a world class cultural destination, and to position the arts as an economic development engine.

Devereux is a member of the Alumni Council of the Kent School in Kent, CT. He is a former president of the Williams College Alumni Association of Fairfield County and a former member of the Williams College Alumni Association Executive Committee.

Stephen Hannock is an American luminist painter known for his landscape work. His work graces the collections of museums and collectors worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Hannock's style is rooted in the tradition of landscape painting in Europe and the United States in the late 1800s, but reflects a unique creative point of view through his technique and use of color. His work conveys an unmistakable sense of place, as well as an indelible sense of his own presence in and experience of the landscapes he depicts. While rooted in tradition, his artistic practice continues to evolve. He blends attention to detail with pure spontaneity to achieve his creative vision. As an innovator, Hannock uses such unconventional tools as a power sander to "machine polish" his canvases, resulting in a luminosity that has become his trademark. Another recent innovation is the addition of text and collage techniques into his landscapes, resulting in paintings rich with ideas to engage the eye and the mind of the viewer.

Hannock's design of visual effects for the 1998 film What Dreams May Come won an Academy Award. He lives in Williamstown, and maintains a studio in North Adams.

As a college student, Josetta Owen was inspired by the humanitarian example of Dr. Albert Schweitzer and the call to service of President John F. Kennedy. After graduating from MCLA, she taught the children of migrant farm workers, and was selected to be a Master Teacher for education students at nearby San Jose State University.

Among her many humanitarian efforts, Owen has volunteered at Mother Theresa's AIDS hospice in Washington DC. Through the inspiration of her Jesuit church, she led delegations to El Salvador in Central America. For 13 years, she and her delegations brought educational and medical supplies to a deeply impoverished community of 35,000, and raised funds on their behalf in the U.S.

Owen co-founded The Children of Abraham, a grass roots group dedicated to increased understanding among Christians, Jews and Muslims. She served on the board of Refugee Voices, which sought to publicize the plight of the displaced, and on the board of Nyumbani, a home for abandoned AIDS-afflicted children near Nairobi, Kenya.

Owen now lives in California, where she continues her volunteer work as a board member of Samaritan House, an NGO serving the poor in San Mateo County, and Shadhika, an organization founded to support the education of children of prostitutes in Calcutta. Through her humanitarian work, she travels extensively throughout the world, most recently to Tanzania, with an April 2010 trip to Peru planned to volunteer at a home for severely deformed children.

For more information, go to http://www.mcla.edu/commencement