Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Commencement Reunion

Honorary degree recipients

Click on the links below to read about this year's honorary degree recipients and to read their remarks.

  • Ann Curry
    Doctor of Humane Letters

    [Read Ann Curry's commencement address.]

    The job of journalists, it has been said, is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. In your career, Ann Curry, we see that commitment to speak truth to power as well as a willingness to risk danger and endure discomfort (not to mention braving bungee jumps, sky dives and other feats of daring).

    A graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, you began your career with the desire to call attention to injustice and suffering in every corner of the world. That concern for others, combined with your courage in asking difficult questions and confronting risk, powered your swift march up to the ranks of network television news journalists.

    As a television journalist, you helped to launch MSNBC, and you assumed news anchor duties at the Today show and Dateline. But you did not allow yourself to become comfortable. Indeed, you have built a reputation for covering difficult stories in dangerous places. Among them: Beirut and Northern Israel during the Israel Lebanon war, Baghdad, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

    Most memorably, you traveled to Sudan three times to cover the violence and ethnic cleansing in Darfur and Chad. Your in-depth reporting focused on the victims in that region. When you won a rare interview with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, you confronted him with questions about his government's complicity in genocide.

    Your exemplary work has been honored with two Emmys, four Golden Mikes, several Associated Press Certificates of Excellence, two Gracies, and an award for Excellence in Reporting from the NAACP. We are proud to present you with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

  • Gillian M. Shepherd, M.D. '70
    Doctor of Science

    [Read Gillian Shepherd's commencement remarks.]

    Excellence in the practice of medicine requires the soul of a scientist, the heart of an educator and the head of an academic. Gillian M. Shepherd, you bring all of that together as a renowned clinician, researcher, teacher and public health advocate.

    After graduating from Wheaton, you pursued graduate study at Tufts University and earned a medical degree from New York Medical College. Since then, you have built a successful private practice, and through your research, you have become a leading expert on patients' adverse reactions to drugs and other therapies.

    The general public knows you best from your appearances on network television, where you show a gift for conveying complex information in vivid and easy-to-understand ways. That skill, which your patients undoubtedly appreciate, is also on display in the book you co-authored: What's in the Air: The Complete Guide to Seasonal and Year Round Airborne Allergies.

    You also share your expertise as a clinical associate professor of medicine at Cornell University's Weill Medical College. Your commitment to education shows in the four national teaching awards you have received from the American College of Physicians. It also drives your contributions to Wheaton, where you have lectured, participated in student programs and served on the college's Science Advisory Committee.

    You once observed, "Today allergies are booming. And unlike the stock market, this trend has been rising steadily." Dr. Shepherd, like your patients, we are glad that you have invested yourself in this field. We admire your achievements in science and your commitment to education and are honored to bestow upon you the degree of Honorary Doctor of Science.

  • Diana Davis Spencer '60
    Doctor of Humane Letters

    [Read Diana Davis Spencer's commencement remarks.]
    Expert travelers find wonder and opportunity everywhere they go. Diana Davis Spencer, you are indeed an expert and intrepid traveler, who has uncovered a world of opportunities. As a writer, activist and philanthropist, you have ensured that thousands of others would benefit from your insights.Your passion for discovery is reflected in your deep commitment to education. From serving as a house parent at independent schools to writing for newspapers and magazines, you have enlightened others about new perspectives.You are an innovative leader in many organizations, including the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and Wheaton, where you served as a trustee for 15 years. Your advocacy for global studies exemplifies your broad and beneficial influence. The Davis House and the Davis International Fellows program testify to the impact of your support, as does your election as a trustee emerita.

    Your connections with students and your active support for education have opened new paths for innumerable young people. You played a critical role in ensuring that people with learning disabilities would enjoy equal freedom to follow their own educational journey. Your advocacy made possible the major step forward represented by the passage of Massachusetts Chapter 766, guaranteeing the rights of children with special needs to education best-suited to their learning styles.

    You once said of yourself: "I'm not the sort of person who is going to sit on the sidelines." Diana, we speak for many when we express our gratitude for your active engagement with the world and your generosity in helping others to make the most of it. It is with great admiration and appreciation that we present you with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

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