Former VP Al Gore to Give Commencement Address
Patsy Couper W '44, Paul Lieberstein '89 and NYU President John Sexton to Receive Honorary Degrees
By Holly Foster 315-859-4068
March 3, 2011
Al Gore, the 45th vice president of the U.S., Nobel Laureate and author of An Inconvenient Truth, will deliver the Commencement address at Hamilton College on Sunday, May 22, at 10:30 a.m., in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House. The ceremony will be webcast live beginning at 10:15 a.m.
Gore will be awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony celebrating the 199th year of the College, along with Patsy Couper, a longtime benefactor of Hamilton College; Paul Lieberstein, co-executive producer, writer and actor in NBC’s sitcom “The Office” and a 1989 graduate of Hamilton College; and John Sexton, president of New York University (NYU). Sexton offered the Baccalaureate sermon on Saturday, May 21, in the Scott Field House.
Patricia Pogue Couper W'44
Patricia (Patsy) Pogue Couper, wife of the late Hamilton alumnus and life trustee Richard W. Couper ’44, has supported Hamilton throughout her life, including since the death of her husband in 2006. At Hamilton’s 2007 Reunions she received the Bell Ringer Award, presented annually in recognition of contributions made to the college and its community. She is a 1945 graduate of Smith College, with a bachelor’s degree in art history and regularly takes classes at Hamilton.
While her husband served Hamilton as provost and then acting president, Mrs. Couper raised four children in what is now the Wallace-Johnson House. The Coupers created and sustained the Williams-Watrous-Couper Fund, which provides support for faculty research and teaching improvement at Hamilton. They also established an endowment to fund the director’s position for the Burke Library, which was named in their honor, and support in other ways the college’s library and its collections. In 2002, the Coupers established a fund through Hamilton’s Career Center that supports students working in unfunded summer internships at non-profit arts organizations such as historical societies, museums and libraries.
Mrs. Couper also supports the Kirkland Town Library and Oneida County Historical Society.
Al Gore, the 45th vice president of the U.S, is the author of An Inconvenient Truth, a best-selling book on the threat of and solutions to global warming, and the subject of an Academy Award-winning movie of the same title. He also co-founded and serves as chairman of Current TV, an independently owned cable and satellite television network for young people based on viewer-created content and citizen journalism.
Gore spoke about An Inconvenient Truth at Hamilton in April 2007 as a guest in the college’s Sacerdote Great Names Series. He was the co-winner, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”
Gore’s political career began when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, serving the then 4th District of Tennessee for eight years. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and re-elected in 1990, before being inaugurated as vice president in January 1993.
In 2004, Gore was appointed chairman of Generation Investment Management, a London-based fund management firm that creates environment-friendly portfolios.
Gore received a degree in government with honors from Harvard University in 1969. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War. Upon returning from Vietnam, Gore became an investigative reporter with the Tennessean in Nashville, where he also attended Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School and then law school.
Paul B. Lieberstein
A 1989 graduate of Hamilton College, Paul Lieberstein is an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and television producer who is most widely known as a writer and supporting cast member (in the role of Toby Flenderson) on the NBC sitcom “The Office.”
Lieberstein planned on pursuing a career in business after graduating from Hamilton with a degree in economics, but his love of writing took him to Los Angeles where he wrote scripts for “Clarissa Explains It All,” “Weird Science” and “The Naked Truth.” He subsequently worked as a writer/producer on “King of the Hill,” for which he earned his first Emmy, “The Drew Carey Show,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Greg the Bunny.” “The Office” won the Emmy for “Outstanding Comedy Series” in 2006. Lieberstein spoke at Hamilton in April 2010.
John Sexton, the 15th president of New York University, is also the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law and NYU Law School’s dean emeritus, having served in that role for 14 years. He joined the law school's faculty in 1981, was named the school’s dean in 1988, and was designated the university’s president in 2001.
Sexton chairs the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Council on Education. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Sexton has served as the chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He also serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Institute of International Education and the Association for a Better New York.
Sexton received a bachelor’s degree in history from Fordham College, a master’s degree in comparative religion and a Ph.D. in the history of American religion from Fordham University, and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. He is an author of the nation’s leading casebook on Civil Procedure and wrote Redefining the Supreme Court’s Role: A Theory of Managing the Federal Court System (a treatment of the Supreme Court's case selection process). Sexton has also written several other books, numerous chapters, articles and Supreme Court briefs.