Honorary degrees were awarded to the nine noted individuals during Yale's 296th Commencement on May 26. Brief biographies and their citations follow:
Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo
Spiritual leader and champion of peace
Doctor of Divinity
The Most Reverend Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, has been a tireless crusader for the cause of human rights and freedom in his native East Timor. He has become a symbol of nonviolent advocacy for those seeking peace and justice, not only in East Timor but throughout the world. The people of East Timor, a predominantly Catholic former Portuguese colony in the Indonesian archipelago, have suffered brutal atrocities and war- related famine since Indonesia's military seized control in 1975. More than 200,000 East Timorese -- roughly one-third of the pre- invasion population -- have died as a result. Bishop Belo returned to his homeland from seminary studies in Lisbon in 1981. He was appointed as acting bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in East Timor in 1983 and as bishop in 1988. In a letter to the United Nations in 1989, Bishop Belo called for an internationally supervised referendum to determine the wishes of the people of East Timor. According to the committee that awards the Peace Prize, the troubles in East Timor might never have received worldwide attention without Bishop Belo's urgent appeal for freedom of choice and reconciliation.
"With quiet persistence and gentle determination, you have let us know of the difficulties of life in your land of East Timor. Firmly on the side of faith, compelled by peace, sustained by hope -- you have been the voice for those who could not speak for themselves. We are confident that your good work will be brought to completion, and we join you in praying for tranquillity in your country. Your courage is inspiring and we are privileged to honor you as Doctor of Divinity."
Actress and director
Doctor of Fine Arts
Jodie Foster is known in Hollywood for her intellectual vigor, modesty and consummate professionalism. She has broken new ground for women in film, both through her choice of roles and through her successful transition from actress to director to producer. Her portrayals of a rape survivor in "The Accused" and Special Agent Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs" earned her two Academy Awards for Best Actress. Ms. Foster began her career at age 3 and was a regular on several television series. But it was her roles in "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "Taxi Driver" that won her international attention. She received her first Oscar nomination for "Taxi Driver." Ms. Foster is the only American actress to win two separate awards in the same year from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts -- Best Supporting Actress and Best Newcomer -- for "Taxi Driver" and "Bugsy Malone." Ms. Foster made her directorial debut in 1991 with "Little Man Tate." She founded her own production company, Egg Pictures, in 1992. Its initial effort, "Nell," earned her an Academy Award nomination. A member of the Class of 1984, Ms. Foster actually graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 1985 with a B.A. in literature, and returned as Class Day Speaker in 1994.
"In your acting and directing, you reveal yourself as a deep moral intelligence, exploring the outer bounds of life, helping us to understand what we can and cannot tolerate. You are that rarest form of star: one whose work is pervaded with dignity, authenticity, and a thoughtful sense of purpose. We take great pride in conferring your second Yale degree, Doctor of Fine Arts."
Dr. Alfred G. Gilman
Doctor of Medical Sciences
Alfred G. Gilman, professor and chair of pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, received a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1994 for his discovery of G proteins, which play a critical role in intracellular communication by translating information that cells receive from hormones, drugs and other chemical messengers so that the cells know how to respond. More than one-third of biological activities may be regulated by G proteins, and they may play a role in the development of cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, cholera and other illnesses. Since the discovery by Dr. Gilman and Martin Rodbell, with whom he shared the Nobel Prize, scientists have identified more than 300 receptors on cells that communicate with G proteins, influencing many basic vital functions, including the feeling of elation. Upon learning he won the Nobel Prize, Dr. Gilman told colleagues, "First, I secreted all of my adrenaline; the adrenaline activated my receptors and they then stimulated my G proteins." Dr. Gilman graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1962 with a degree in biochemistry, and completed his doctoral and medical studies at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
"From a childhood fascination with the stars, you turned your attention to the universe within the human body, finding proteins that communicate and transmit materials within cells. Your discovery of these G proteins has advanced the understanding of disease and created the potential for new treatments. Educated as a physician, accomplished as a scientist, you bring intense concentration and probing inquiry to your work. We welcome back a native of New Haven whose first Yale degree was awarded with highest honors; this time, the honor is ours, as we name you Doctor of Medical Sciences."
Business and civic leader
Doctor of Humane Letters
Roberto Goizueta is considered one of the most accomplished and talented business leaders in the world today. Since he assumed leadership of The Coca-Cola Company in 1981, the business has soared in market value, rising from $4 billion to more than $140 billion today. His company was selected as "American's Most Admired Company" by Fortune magazine in 1996 and again in 1997. Under his leadership, The Coca-Cola Company has expanded into nearly 200 countries and has worked conscientiously to develop local suppliers, thereby strengthening a number of collateral businesses for emerging countries. Mr. Goizueta has led The Coca-Cola Company to be conspicuous in civic endeavors in the United States, particularly in the field of education. A native of Havana, Mr. Goizueta graduated from Yale with a degree in chemical engineering in 1953. He has been associated with The Coca-Cola Company since 1954, when he became a chemist at a Havana subsidiary. He serves on the boards of several institutions and has received numerous civic and philanthropic awards, including the Equal Justice Award from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom.
"As a leader of corporate America, you are the real thing. In sixteen years as the head of The Coca-Cola Company, you have demonstrated energy, discipline, and strategic skill, embracing the global economy by creating a global corporation, which not only generates enormous value for your shareholders but contributes to the broader communities in which you operate around the world. Through corporate and personal example in civic, educational, and cultural endeavors, you have helped many to live the American dream. We are proud to offer you another Yale degree, this time, Doctor of Humane Letters."
Dancer, choreographer and artistic director
Doctor of Fine Arts
Judith Jamison has helped to broaden the world of dance and make it accessible to new audiences and new artists. In a performing career spanning nearly 20 years and more than 70 ballets, she earned the sobriquet "Goddess of Modern Dance." Ms. Jamison inspired some of Alvin Ailey's most enduring roles, including "Cry," a tribute to black women. Since 1989, she has been artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, preserving its roots in black spiritual tradition while expanding its repertory. Born in Philadelphia, Ms. Jamison credits her father, a sheet-metal worker and classically trained pianist and singer, and her mother, a creative writing teacher, with cultivating her love of the arts and pride in her African-American heritage. She made her dance debut in 1964 with the American Ballet Theater, and subsequently joined Mr. Ailey's company, remaining there until 1980. She has choreographed numerous ballets and an opera, written an autobiography and starred in the Broadway musical "Sophisticated Ladies." In 1988, she founded The Jamison Project, a modern dance company that merged with the Ailey company when she was appointed artistic director. Under her leadership, the company has created a joint bachelor's degree program with Fordham University's College at Lincoln Center, among other initiatives.
"You have given us poetry without words, art clothed in grace, telling with the body the human story of joy and pain, suffering and celebration. You have extended modern dance to incorporate the meaning and manner of ancient rhythms, creating movement that evokes the essence of life. You have stepped out in bold new directions as the leader of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As dancer, choreographer, director, and artist, you have shown extraordinary talent. We honor your dancing spirit today with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts."
Mario J. Molina
Chemist and environmental advocate
Doctor of Science
Mario Molina, a native of Mexico, is credited with presenting the first scientific evidence that human actions can harm the environment on a global scale. In 1974, he hypothesized that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs -- then widely used in aerosol cans, air- conditioners and refrigerators -- were depleting the ozone layer. By 1979, he had proven his theory. Although Professor Molina's work was initially greeted with skepticism by the CFC industry and his fellow scientists, the public demanded action. Finally, in 1987 an international accord was signed to phase out the use of CFCs. For his work, Professor Molina received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1995. It was the first time a Nobel had been awarded to a Mexican- American, and the first time the Nobel Committee recognized a leader in environmental sciences. Professor Molina shared the Nobel Prize with Sherwood Roland, a researcher at the University of California at Irvine, with whom he had worked since 1973. Mr. Molina has been professor of atmospheric chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1989. Last year he donated nearly two-thirds of his Nobel winnings to MIT, to help scientists from developing countries conduct environmental research.
"Yours is the role of prophetic scientist, calling attention to the fragility of the protective layer in our atmosphere, identifying the cause of damage, and pointing to the remedy. Trained as a chemist, your life-saving research on the influence of chemicals on atmospheric ozone has led, in the nick of time, to a world-wide ban on chlorofluorocarbons. And your generosity has provided for future researchers from Latin America and around the globe to be trained in the science of our environment. We are pleased to honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science."
Coach and teacher
Doctor of Humane Letters
Eddie Robinson has won more games than any other coach in collegiate football history. In his 56 seasons as coach at Grambling State University in Louisiana, he has amassed a 405-157-15 record. His players cite his demanding standards, both academic and athletic, as his most important legacy. Others cite his contributions to the rising reputation of historically black colleges in general. On Oct. 5, 1985 in the Cotton Bowl, Mr. Robinson surpassed Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's record of 323 collegiate victories. Mr. Robinson, a winner of 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, has seen more than 200 of his players become professional football players, including Doug Williams, the first black quarterback of a Super Bowl-winning team, and Hall of Famers Willie Brown, Buck Buchanan, Willie Davis and Charlie Joiner. Mr. Robinson was born in Jackson, Louisiana, the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker. He received a football scholarship to attend Leland College. In 1941, he became football coach at the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, now Grambling State. Mr. Robinson has said that he is particularly proud that nearly all of his players have received their undergraduate degrees. He announced in December that the 1997 season will be his last.
"Your peers call you a living legend, but your players just call you 'Coach.' You have translated a lifetime of commitment and hard work into an unrivaled record on the football field. That winning attitude has been reflected in your care for the futures of your students, as you have helped to open opportunities for them. You are in a league of your own, and we are pleased to recognize the achievements of your career with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters."
President of Ireland
Doctor of Laws
Mary Robinson is known as the "voice of the New Ireland" in her homeland. Since the 1970s, she has pressed for the liberalization of laws concerning divorce, contraception and abortion information. In the process, she has helped Ireland emerge as a modern country with the fastest growing economy in Europe. President Robinson was born in County Mayo in northwestern Ireland, the daughter of two physicians. She first came to the United States in 1967-68 as a fellow at Harvard Law School. She says that watching the debates in the United States over the Vietnam War and civil rights reinforced her belief that individuals can bring about meaningful reform. At age 24, she joined the law faculty of Trinity University in Dublin, becoming the youngest professor in its history. As a lobbyist for women's rights, she earned a reputation as one of Ireland's most effective barristers. When asked by the Labour Party to run for the largely ceremonial post of president in 1990, she reluctantly agreed, viewing the campaign as a chance to publicize important social issues. She has since drawn more than a 90 percent approval rating at home and won widespread respect abroad. The first female president of Ireland, she is also the first Irish president to pay official visits to Britain, and the first head of state to tour Somalia and direct worldwide attention there.
"As professor and as President, from the halls of Trinity College to the halls of Ireland's parliament, you have shown how the life of the mind can contribute to the affairs of state. With pioneering spirit, you are a model of openness, tolerance, and inclusiveness for your country. Popular with your electorate, principled in your politics, you have addressed those matters that affect the human condition, speaking out for dignity and respect for the ignored and the oppressed. Daughter of Ireland, we are proud to make you also a daughter of Yale, as Doctor of Laws."
Author and illustrator
Doctor of Letters
For more than 40 years, Maurice Sendak has been challenging established ideas about what children's literature is and should be. A son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Mr. Sendak was sickly as a child and found relief from the monotony of a bed-ridden convalescence by writing, drawing and living within his imagination. He credits his father, a dressmaker with a storyteller's gift, for sowing the seeds of many of the tales he later developed. Mr. Sendak's first major success as an illustrator came in 1952, with the publication of "A Hole Is to Dig" by Ruth Krauss. In 1964, he received the Caldecott Medal for "Where the Wild Things Are," which remains among the 10 bestselling children's books of all time. In 1970, he became the first American illustrator to receive the international Hans Christian Andersen Award. Last year, President Clinton presented him with the National Medal of Arts. Mr. Sendak has designed sets and costumes for several acclaimed opera productions and is a founder of The Night Kitchen, a national theater company devoted to developing quality productions for children.
"Because you have trusted the wisdom of children, children have come to trust you. Your writing and your art are honest and respectful of the depths of children's inner worlds, their aggressions as well as their vulnerabilities. You have given voice and image to life as children know it, evoking for the rest of us those places that still exist in the power of memory, the places where the wild things are. For the gift of your art and the power of your words, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters."