Hamilton College Names Honorary Degree Recipients
Approximately 450 students will receive bachelor's degrees during the ceremony that marks the end of the college's 184th academic year. The Commencement address will be delivered by prominent American biographer David McCullough.
In addition to McCullough (Doctor of Letters), honorary degrees will be presented to former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Harry Blackmun (Doctor of Laws), jazz trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison (Doctor of Music), New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Carl Hayden (Doctor of Laws), Dean of the School of Nursing at Columbia University Mary O'Neill Mundinger (Doctor of Humane Letters), professor and college marshal emeritus Sidney Wertimer (Doctor of Humane Letters) and retired Citicorp CEO Walter Wriston (Doctor of Laws).
West Tisbury, Mass.
David McCullough, author of six widely acclaimed books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Truman, was born in Pittsburgh in 1933. In 1955, he graduated from Yale University with honors in English literature, and within a year began working in New York at Sports Illustrated. During the Kennedy Administration, McCullough served as an editor on a magazine published by the U.S. Information Agency, and later worked as an editor for American Heritage magazine.
His monumental Truman, a work of 10 years, has been called a "masterpiece of American biography." An unprecedented national bestseller, the book has sold over a million copies to date. The recently released film Truman, starring Anthony Hopkins, was also based on McCullough's biography.
Since 1989, McCullough has hosted the PBS television show, The American Experience. Previously, he hosted Smithsonian World and narrated the Emmy Award-winning documentary series, The Civil War, in 1990.
Hon. Harry A. Blackmun
Harry Blackmun, former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1970-1994), was born in Nashville, Ill., in 1908. Growing up in St. Paul, Minn., he graduated from Harvard University in 1929 and Harvard Law School in 1932. From 1934 to 1950, Blackmun practiced with a large Minneapolis law firm, where he specialized in taxation and estate planning.
A Republican, Blackmun was named a justice on the Eighth Circuit Court in 1959 by President Eisenhower. In 1970, President Nixon appointed Blackmun to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Abe Fortas. On the circuit bench, he developed a reputation as a cautious and conservative judge who respected precedent and favored judical restraint. Over the years, however, Blackmun moved to the center and finally the liberal wing of the Court. His best-known and most controversial opinion was the majority opinion he wrote in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion. The decision upheld the right to an abortion as a basic medical procedure protected by the right to individual privacy implied in the Constitution.
Harry "Sweets" Edison
Los Angeles, Calif.
American trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, one of jazz's most gifted and distinctive trumpet players, was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1915. Edison, who began playing the trumpet at age 12, gained valuable early experience with a number of territory bands, including the Jeter-Pillars orchestra. He joined the Count Basie Band in 1938, where he remained until Basie folded his big band in 1950.
During the 1950s, Edison began a long career as a solo artist and studio musician. He toured with Buddy Rich in the U.S. and South America, accompanying Josephine Baker. After settling on the West Coast, Edison became a regular studio musician, working often with top artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Nelson Riddle. He led a group featuring Joe Williams and worked again with Basie in the 1960's and 1970's.
Edison, 80, has composed or co-composed of various jazz numbers, including "Jive at Five" and "Beaver Junction." In 1992, at the age of 76, he received an American Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Carl Hayden '63
Carl Hayden, chancellor for the New York State Board of Regents, graduated from Hamilton in 1963 and earned his J.D. degree at Cornell Law School in 1970. An attorney in private practice in Elmira, he was elected to a seven-year term as the regent for the Sixth Judicial District effective April 1, 1990. The Sixth Judicial District is comprised of the counties of Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga and Tompkins. Hayden was elected chancellor by his regent colleagues in March 1995, and his term runs through March 1998.
Hayden has been involved in various community services throughout the years, including past president of the Elmira City School District Board of Education, past chair and president of the Chemung County Chapter of the American Red Cross and founder of the Mark Twain Arts