(l to r) Bill McKibben, Nina Totenberg, John H. Adams, Herta Müller and David H. Petraeus
At the 2012 Commencement ceremony, Dickinson bestowed honorary degrees on the following distinguished individuals:
David H. Petraeus, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director
Petraeus, who previously served as commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, received a doctor of public service honorary degree. Petraeus became the 20th director of the CIA on Sept. 6, 2011 following a distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Army. He has received numerous awards for distinguished service, including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star for valor and the State Department Superior Honor Award. In 2007, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders and revolutionaries of the year and one of four runners-up for Person of the Year. Most recently, he was selected in a poll conducted by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the world’s top-100 public intellectuals, and Esquire magazine named him one of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century. His wife Holly ’74 and daughter Anne ’04 are Dickinson alumnae.
View Petraeus’ citation
John H. Adams, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Adams, who co-founded NRDC in 1970 with a group of fellow law students, received a doctor of public service honorary degree. Under Adams’ tutelage, NRDC lawyers have helped write some of America’s bedrock environmental laws. Today NRDC is widely known as the nation’s most effective environmental-action organization, using law, science and the support of 1.3 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places. In February 2011, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—from President Barack Obama, who referenced Rolling Stone magazine’s description of Adams when announcing the award: “If the planet has a lawyer, it’s John Adams.”
View Adams’ citation
Herta Müller, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature
Müller, who is only the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, received a doctor of letters honorary degree. Müller came to Dickinson as a writer-in-residence in spring 1996 and was awarded an honorary fellowship in 1997. Müller has written many German-language novels and short stories depicting hypocrisy and oppression in post-World War II Romania, where she was born. From 1973 to 1976, Müller studied Romanian and German literature in Timişoara, where she befriended a group of writers opposed to the Ceauşescu dictatorship. Upon completing her studies, she worked as a translator in a machine factory. In 1979, after refusing a request by the Romanian secret police to spy on her colleagues and foreign guests, she lost her job. Her first book, Niederungen, dates from this period.Her most recent work, The Hunger Angel, was released in English in April 2012. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Müller’s work has earned the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, European Literature Prize, Kafka Prize, Marieluise-Fleißer Prize, Kranichsteiner Literary Prize, Kleist Prize and Aristeion Prize.
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Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio’s (NPR) award-winning legal affairs correspondent
Totenberg received a doctor of humane letters honorary degree. Totenberg began her career at the Boston Record American and the Peabody Times. She then worked in Washington, D.C., reporting for several print publications before moving into broadcast journalism at NPR in 1975. She has since become one of the most respected and recognized figures in American radio and a frequent contributor to print media, including The New York Times Magazine and the Harvard Law Review. Totenberg’s coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. In 1991 her groundbreaking reporting led the Senate Judiciary Committee to re-open Judge Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings. NPR received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its coverage.
View Totenberg’s citation
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org
Environmental activist, author and journalist Bill McKibben was honored as the first recipient of The Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. McKibben is the founder of 350.org, the world’s largest grassroots climate campaign, with activists in every country but North Korea. Since 2009, 350.org has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries. Time magazine has called McKibben “the planet’s best green journalist” and The Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.” McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in The New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has been printed in more than 20 languages.