2018 Commencement Speaker and Honorands Announced

Johnnetta B. Cole, respected educator, cultural anthropologist, and author, will be the featured speaker for the 192nd Trinity College Commencement on Sunday, May 20. Chief of Staff and Assistant Vice President for External Affairs Jason Rojas told the Tripod, “[It is] always a difficult thing to identify the person who can best speak to the character of the students. Dr. Cole’s background is quite amazing.” In 1987, Cole became the first African American woman president of Spelman College. She was also appointed as president to Bennett College in 2002, historic since she is

Honorand William Palmer Scully, Courtesy of Trinity College Office of Communications

“the lone individual to have served as president of the only two historically black colleges for women in the country.” From 2009-2017, she served as Director of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. She serves as a consultant with Cook Ross, a management firm. Cole received a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Trinity in 1998.
Honorand Walter Harrison, Courtesy of Trinity College Office of Communications

The Honorands Review Committee has certain criteria for the recipients of honorary degrees. Rojas said, “We look at academic background, contributions to their particular field, and their position as a community or political leader.”
The honorands this year will first be Walter Harrison ’68, president emeritus of University of Hartford of 19 years. He is the longest serving president of the University of Hartford. At Trinity, Harrison earned a degree in English. He went on to received his M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Davis. He has a passion for American Literature. Under his leadership at the University of Hartford, the school tripled its endowment. The school also “transformed its physical campus.” He is on the boards of many Hartford organizations, including Saint Francis Hospital, Hartford Promise, Hartford Stage, and Capitol Squash. In 2014, he received the NCAA Gerald R. Ford Award. Harrison received an honorary degree from Goodwin College for his dedication to Hartford.
Honorand Ralph Katz, Courtesy of Trinity College Office of Communications

Ralph V. Katz ’65 will also receive an honorary degree. Katz graduated from Trinity in 1968, studying biology. He went on to earn his D.M.D. from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and his M.P.H. and Ph.D. in dental public health, and epidemiology, respectively, from the University of Minnesota. He co-authored “The Tuskegee Legacy Project,” which “shined a light on the recruitment and retention of minorities in biomedical research studies.” Katz also received an $8.3-million award from the National Institutes of Health in 2001 to establish the NYU Oral Cancer Research on Adolescent and Adult Health Promotion Center. He is founding chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at New York University College of Dentistry. He has received the NYU Distinguished Teaching award, the university’s highest honor.
Johnnetta B. Cole, Courtesy of Trinity College Office of Communications

William Palmer Scully ’61, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. While at Trinity, he earned his B.A. in economics, then went to study at New York University. He then became a Chartered Financial Analyst. Scully worked in securities analysis and institutional sales at Wall Street firms Francis I. DuPont and F. Eberstadt, and later Smith Barney, where he was vice president. He also co-founded Twin Oaks Partners, “a performance-based hedge fund that met with tremendous success.” At Trinity, he endowed five scholarships that honored his classmates who would serve in the Vietnam War and a scholarship honoring a former Dean of Student.
Rojas added, “We have also made a conscious decision to recognize alumni more; recognizing alumni who have gone to do great things in the world. [We measure] what they have done that makes them stand out in their professional career.”
This report is based on a memorandum by the Office of Communications released on Mar. 5. More information on Commencement can be found on the College Website.

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