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TC Honors Medalists at Convocation

This year Convocation featured two Master's Convocations on Tuesday, May 20, instead of the usual single ceremony. The Doctoral Convocation, at which graduating doctoral students are hooded by the Dean, took place the following day.

Traditionally, recipients of the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service are presented at the Master's Convocation, and the Cleveland A. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education is presented at the Doctoral Convocation. There will be medalists at each of this year's ceremonies.

Among those being honored with the TC Medal are Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Pete Seeger, Reverend James Forbes of Riverside Church, filmmaker Ken Burns, and civil rights attorney Morris Dees. The Dodge Medal is being presented to Henry A. McKinnel, Jr., C.E.O. of Pfizer, Inc.

Desmond Tutu is Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He was a moral authority in the fight against apartheid and won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. In his long and sometimes lonely journey as a young teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College to his work as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission trial, his objective has always been "a democratic society without racial divisions." Tutu's remarkable personal memoir, No Future Without Forgiveness, teaches the powerful belief that "we can indeed transcend the conflicts of the past, we can hold hands as we realize our common humanity."

Pete Seeger's use of music as a means of speaking out against war, racism, poverty and pollution demonstrates his commitment to using his life to educate and make a difference in the world. The stories he tells through song bring a sense of common humanity and shared social vision and provoke compassion, thought and action. His song, "If I Had a Hammer," speaks to the possibilities of constructive social change, and his song, "We Shall Overcome," was the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in America.

His willingness to live what he believes was evident in his refusal to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities when asked to give names of people to be investigated. He risked going to jail for 10 years in order to do what he believed was right.

Seeger's concern for the environment prompted him to establish Clearwater, a volunteer group whose sailboat traveled the length of the Hudson River to educate children about environmental pollution. Thanks to these efforts, the Hudson is becoming safe again for swimming.

In composing songs that originate from cultures around the world, he generously gives part of his profits from the song back to the part of the world where the song is from.

Reverend James Forbes has been called a "preacher's preacher," teaching others through his message. As the Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary, he has taught others how to be effective messengers. At Riverside Church, where he serves as Senior Minister to a congregation numbering in the thousands, he inspires many to work to help others. He has been honored by Ebony magazine in 1984 and 1993 as one of America's greatest black preachers and was recognized in 1996 by Newsweek as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. He teaches about religious and political intolerance and encourages his listeners to participate in civic life and to let their voices be heard in a respectful dialogue about the direction of our nation.

Ken Burns has spent more than 20 years making documentary films, bringing history to life for his audiences. The subjects of his films range from American monuments and structures, to government, important historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Susan B. Anthony, the American pastime of baseball, and America's original art form, jazz. The quality of his work is such that his films, such as his series on the Civil War, broke records for public television viewership.Stephen Ambrose, the historian, has said of Burns' films, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source."

Morris Dees is chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center which he founded in 1971 with attorney Joe Levin. What began as a small civil rights law firm is now internationally known for tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacist groups, its tracking of hate groups, and its sponsorship of the Civil Rights Memorial. He has developed ideas for Teaching Tolerance, the Center's education project. Through this project, the Center is teaching people about the need for tolerance and racial equality in our country. He has received the Barnard College Medal of Distinction, the University of Alabama Humanitarian Award, and the National Education Association's Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Award.

Henry A. McKinnell, Ph.D. is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Inc, the world's largest pharmaceutical company. Pfizer was founded in New York City in 1849, remains headquartered there, and has grown to become the third most valuable company in the world. Under McKinnell, Pfizer has made access to medicine a key company driver, creating partnerships with governments in the U.S. and overseas to provide access to health care for those who cannot afford it. The company has also invested heavily in medical education, including the funding of a state-of-the-art facility in Uganda to train African doctors in the latest therapies to combat HIV. McKinnell, who has spent 31 years at Pfizer, is a member of the President's Commission on HIV/AIDS, a trustee of the New York Public Library, and a director of ExxonMobil and John Wiley and Sons. He earned his doctorate in finance from Stanford University.previous page