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Lani Guinier to speak at 2004 Commencement

Jeff Unger, News Bureau


Lani Guinier
Lani Guinier, a professor of law at Harvard, will be the speaker at both Commencement ceremonies on May 16.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Lani Guinier, a professor of law at Harvard, will be the speaker at both Commencement ceremonies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on May 16, 2004. She and seven others also will receive honorary degrees at the ceremonies. Guinier will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

The degree recipients’ nominations were approved today by the U. of I. Board of Trustees during its meeting in Urbana.

In 1998, Lani Guinier became the first black woman to be appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she was a tenured professor for 10 years at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. During the 1980s she was head of the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and had served in the Civil Rights Division during the Carter administration as special assistant to Drew S. Days, who then was an assistant U.S. attorney general.

Guinier came to prominent public attention when she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, only to have her name withdrawn without a confirmation hearing. Guinier turned that incident into a powerful personal and political memoir, "Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback Into a New Vision of Social Justice."

While a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier investigated the experience of women in law school, leading to the publication of a book, "Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School and Institutional Change." She and her co-authors found that women were not graduating with top honors, although women and men came to the school with virtually identical credentials.

A graduate of Radcliffe College of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Guinier has received numerous awards, including the 1995 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Rosa Parks Award from the American Association for Affirmative Action.

The other honorary-degree recipients:

Frances Allen, pioneer in the field of compilers; honorary degree of doctor of science.

Allen is the first woman to achieve the title of IBM Fellow and is the past president of IBM Academy of Technology. She specializes in compilers, compiler optimization and high performance computing. She is considered one of the giants of the field of programming language compiler research and development. Allen established the theoretical framework and methodology for compiler research that has been followed by thousands of researchers and developers during the past 30 years.

John Hope Franklin, writer and historian; honorary degree of doctor of humane letters.

Franklin is the author of "From Slavery to Freedom," which reshaped the way African-American history is understood and taught. Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University and also served on the faculties of St. Augustine’s College, Howard University, Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 and was appointed by President Clinton to lead a panel of advisers on promoting racial understanding in the United States.

Temple Grandin, distinguished scientist concerning the handling, slaughtering, transportation and housing of farm animals; the honorary degree of doctor of science.

Grandin’s work has had a remarkable influence on the animal production industry in the United States and abroad.
A U. of I. alumna, she is known for designing unprecedented and humane facilities for cattle and other animals all over the word, and, in effect, revolutionizing the meat industry. She received the American Meat Institute’s highest award, the AMI Industry Advancement Award, because of her role in transforming both animal-welfare attitudes and practices within the meat industry.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; honorary degree of doctor of education.

Hrabowski, a U. of I. alumnus, serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and universities and school systems nationally. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance.

He sits on numerous corporate and civic boards and has written a number of articles and is a co-author of two books: "Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males," focusing on parenting and high-achieving African-American males in science; and "Overcoming the Odds," on successful African-American females in science.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; honorary degree of university administration.

Prior to becoming Rensselaer’s president in 1999, Jackson held senior positions in government, as commissioner and chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; in industry and research, as a theoretical physicist at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories; and in academia, as a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University.

Jackson is the first woman to receive a doctorate from MIT – in any subject. She is one of the first two African-American women to receive a doctorate in physics in the United States, and is also the first African-American woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Christine M. Korsgaard, leading Kantian moral philosopher; honorary degree of doctor of humane letters

Korsgaard, a U. of I. alumna, is the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University where she has been chair of the department of philosophy since 1995. She is the first woman to chair this department as well as the first woman to hold the rank of full professor of philosophy alone, rather than by joint appointment. She is considered one of the most prominent, influential, and highly regarded philosophers of her generation. She is the author of two books, "Creating the Kingdom of Ends," and "The Sources of Normativity," which have set the agenda for those working in the field. Her work has had wide international influence, and is regarded as excellent and groundbreaking.

Robert P. Moses, founder and president, the Algebra Project Inc.; honorary degree of doctor of science and letters.

During his young adult life, Moses was a pivotal organizer for the civil rights movement as a field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was director of SNCC’s Mississippi Project. He was recognized as a driving force behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 and in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the Mississippi regulars at the 1964 Democratic Convention. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow at Harvard from 1982-1987, Moses used his fellowship to work full-time teaching algebra to seventh and eighth graders as a school volunteer. During that time, he developed the concept for the Algebra Project, which uses experiential learning drawn from the work of Dewey, Lewin, Piaget, Quine and Kolb – and a five-step curricular process Moses innovated – to help middle-school students make the conceptual shift from arithmetic to algebra. These materials formed the backbone of Algebra Project teacher and trainer training, and implementation throughout the United States.