Hamilton College has announced the names of five people who will be awarded honorary degrees at the college's 193rd commencement on Sunday, May 22. Hamilton's commencement ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Main Quadrangle, or in the event of inclement weather, in the Margaret Bundy Scott Field House.
The honorary degree recipients are Hamilton College graduate Mary Bonauto '83, civil rights project director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Boston; The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University (Baccalaureate speaker); Hamilton graduate Francis H. Musselman '50, life trustee and former chairman of the Kirkland College board of trustees; Kurt Schmoke, dean and professor, Howard University School of Law (Commencement speaker); and Joseph Volpe, general manager, Metropolitan Opera, New York, N.Y.
Mary Bonauto '83
A graduate of Hamilton College and Northeastern University College of Law, Bonauto has been the civil rights project director at GLAD since 1990. She was lead counsel in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which resulted in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 2003 declaring that prohibiting civil marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.
Bonauto has lectured at Harvard Law School, Tufts University, Suffolk University Law School, the University of Maine and Vermont Law School.
She has the distinction of being the only attorney in the history of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly to be named "Lawyer of the Year" twice. Bonauto serves on the Family Law Steering Committee of the Boston Bar Association and is the North American co-chair of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association. She is also a member of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Working Group on Racial Profiling.
In 1999, she and two Vermont co-counsels won a ruling that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the benefits and protections of civil marriage in the case of Baker v. State of Vermont. This ruling prompted Vermont's legislature to enact the nation's first "civil union" law for same-sex couples.
Peter Gomes (Baccalaureate Speaker)
Peter J. Gomes is an American Baptist minister and the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University Divinity School. He also is a member of Harvard's faculty of arts and sciences and a minister in Harvard's Memorial Church.
In 2001 Gomes was presented with the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award by Harvard. His most recent books are Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living (2003) and The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need (2002). The recipient of 21 honorary degrees, Gomes is an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, the University of Cambridge, England, where the Gomes Lectureship is established in his name, and he is a member of the Council of Sarum College, Salisbury, England. In 2003 he was lecturer at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va.
Gomes was named Clergy of the Year by the organization, Religion in American Life, in 1998. His other best-selling books include The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Sermons: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living. Gomes serves on multiple advisory boards including those of The Living Pulpit, the Winterthur Museum and as Harvard University Trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Francis Musselman '50
Francis Musselman, a native of Utica raised in Watertown, is a 1950 graduate of Hamilton College and a life trustee of the College. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 1943-1946 and, after Hamilton, earned his law degree from Columbia University in 1953. He was chairman of the Kirkland College Board of Trustees from 1972-1978, and has been a Hamilton trustee since 1978.
Musselman served the New York legal community with distinction for many years until his retirement in 1990 as the presiding partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy in New York City. In the early 1990s he served as bankruptcy trustee for Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, Underburg, Manley, Myerson & Casey, the fourth largest law firm in the nation at the time. Musselman's work as former trustee of the National Center for Automated Information Retrieval helped to greatly advance the legal profession in its use of computers. He has served on the board of directors of the Memton Fund, vice chairman of the Milbank Memorial Fund, vice chairman of Wadhams Seminary College in Ogdensburg and as trustee of the Frederick Remington Museum in Ogdensburg. Musselman received an honorary degree from Mater Dei College in 1994.
Kurt Schmoke (Commencement Speaker)
Kurt Schmoke is dean of the Howard University School of Law and former mayor of Baltimore. He was the first African-American elected as mayor of Baltimore, in 1987, and served for three terms. Born in Baltimore in 1949, he attended the city's public schools and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Yale University, after which he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He earned a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1976.
During his tenure as mayor, Schmoke initiated a number of programs in housing, education, public health and economic development. In 1992, President George Bush awarded him the national Literacy Award for promoting adult literacy, and in 1994 President Bill Clinton praised his programs to improve public housing and enhance community economic development. The Clinton Administration designated Baltimore one of six Empowerment Zone cities in 1994.
Schmoke completed his third term as mayor of Baltimore in 1999 and did not seek re-election. A former partner in the international law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, he was the State's Attorney from 1982-1987. Schmoke was appointed dean of the Howard University School of Law in January 2003.
Joseph Volpe is general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Born in Brooklyn in 1940 and raised in Glen Cove, Long Island, he graduated from high school and then decided not to attend college. In 1964, he joined the Met as an apprentice stagehand —and, in 1990, became the first person to rise through the Met's ranks to the top position in the organization. In his years at the Opera's helm he has expanded the company's repertory to include more modern and adventurous works, attracting the best performers in the world and maintaining the Met's season-long near-capacity attendance. Under Volpe, online ticket sales were introduced in 1998, and ticket requests can now be made and confirmed through the Met's Web site.
In 1998 Volpe instituted a new education project for young children in cooperation with the City of New York Department of Education and funded by Texaco. The program, which includes students in kindergarten through second grades, emphasizes direct experience with music and opera schoolchildren. The children come to The Metropolitan Opera House for backstage tours and attendance at dress rehearsals, and artists from the Metropolitan Opera are sent to each participating school for educational presentations.
Volpe has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University, the Wharton School of Business and at the "Models of Leadership" course for New York University's Stern School of Business. Most recently, he taught an elective course titled "Managing in the Performing Arts."