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2013 Honorary Degree Recipients



Keynote Speaker

Diane Patrick, Doctor of Laws

Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts, is a lawyer, domestic violence advocate, educator and community volunteer.

In 1972, Mrs. Patrick earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in early childhood education and graduated with honors from Queens College of the City University of New York. After teaching elementary school in New York City for five years, she entered Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Calif., to study labor and employment law.

In 1983, Mrs. Patrick joined the firm of O'Melveny and Myers, was asked to assist in the opening of its New York City office.  After moving to Massachusetts with her husband, Gov. Deval Patrick, she accepted a position at Harvard as University Attorney in the Office of General Counsel, where she spent six years before becoming Harvard's director/associate vice president for human resources. 

In 1994, when Gov. Patrick was selected to head the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights division, Mrs. Patrick took a job with the Washington D.C. firm Hogan and Hartson, where she worked with both the education and labor and employment law practice groups. She joined the law firm of Ropes and Gray in Boston in 1995. As a partner at that practice, she has combined her passion for education and her background in labor and employment law.

Mrs. Patrick is an outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence and those who suffer from mental health issues.

In 2012, she received Families for Depression Awareness' (FFDA) first-ever Distinguished Service in Mental Health Advocacy Award, created to honor individuals who have gone to extraordinary efforts to heighten public awareness of depressive disorders, empower families in need to seek treatment, and fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Throughout her life and professional career, Mrs. Patrick has dedicated herself to various communities, and has served on the Boards of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Jane Doe, Inc., and Brigham and Women's Hospital, among others. She serves on the Board of the Posse Foundation and is an overseer at The Epiphany School.  



Elizabeth Coleman Ph.D., Doctor of Humanities

The ninth president of Bennington College since 1987, Elizabeth Coleman's vision for the liberal arts and their role and reinvigoration in society has been widely recognized. She has spoken internationally on the topic, including at the 25th anniversary TED "Ideas worth Spreading" Conference.

Prior to assuming the presidency at Bennington, Coleman was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she founded and directed the school's first ventures in undergraduate education.

Coleman serves on the boards the Neurosciences Institute in California and the National Association of Independent Schools. She has served on the boards of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Council for a Community of Democracies, the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin, and the Committee for Economic Development, and has been consultant to the Annenberg Corporation.

Coleman, who in June will retire from the presidency of Bennington College after 25 years of leadership, will next serve as director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action through June 2015. 



John "Jack" Downing, Doctor of Public Service

Jack Downing assumed leadership of Soldier On in 2001, when he became the president and CEO of the organization - the region's leader in providing comprehensive services and affordable housing to low-income, homeless veterans with complex needs. Since that time, Soldier On has expanded from a $600,000 budget serving 250 veterans to a budget of $8.5 million, serving a total of 1,800 veterans per year.

Under his watch, veterans in our region have access to safe emergency shelter, transitional and permanent supportive housing; support services that help veterans access VA and community resources to meet their medical and mental health, financial planning, transportation, employment, and housing needs.

Downing has demonstrated leadership on both a local and national scale by enhancing vital partnerships on behalf of veterans, with organizations such as the Department of Veterans Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of Labor, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs and District Attorney's Office, as he has worked with these organizations to streamline the processes through which veterans must receive quality care.

He has testified before the United States Congress on several occasions on behalf of homeless veterans, and, in 2010, Downing was appointed a member of the Joint Civilian Orientation Committee (JCOC) of the US Department of Defense.  He is one of the 80 members chosen by the Secretary of Defense to attend Pentagon briefings in Washington D.C.



Mardi Crane-Godreau '98 Ph.D., Doctor of Science


After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Vermont, an 18-year career as a Pan American World Airways flight attendant and over a decade in marketing and public relations, Mardi Crane-Godreau decided to return to school to earn a second Bachelor of Arts degree - this time an inter-department study degree in biology and chemistry at then-North Adams State College, now MCLA.

Following two post-doctoral fellowships, Crane-Godreau was appointed assistant professor at the now Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth where she is a member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. In addition, she is an investigator at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and the director of the Cigarette Smoke Exposure Analysis Laboratory (CSEAL) at Dartmouth Medical School, a shared facility for the study of second-hand cigarette smoke.  

Crane-Godreau, who has served on the Geisel School of Medicine Alumni Council since 2012, is involved in active collaborations with colleagues in the United States and abroad. In addition, she is working to make QiGong, a traditional Chinese meditative exercise, more widely available through new research and educational initiatives.