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Friday, 22 May 2015 16:48

Skidmore Recognizes Alumna Scientist, Activist at 104th Commencement

By | Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore’s 104th Commencement ceremony featured two distinguished guests:  Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm ’69, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Julian Bond, a longtime activist in the civil rights, economic justice, and peace movements who is on the faculty of American University.

They addressed approximately 640 members of the Class of 2015 and received an honorary degree at the Saturday, May 16 ceremony at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Mehmet Odekon, Tisch Family Distinguished Professor at Skidmore, was selected by the class to also address the graduating students.

Chisholm majored in biology at Skidmore, but was not planning to pursue a career in the field until her academic advisor encouraged her to apply to graduate school and earn a Ph.D. degree. Her decision to follow that advice was life-changing for her. A pre-eminent biological oceanographer, she has long studied the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the sea. Her findings have revolutionized scientists' understanding of life in the world’s oceans. Those studies have taken her to MIT but also to the White House, where she was presented with a National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2013. 

Teacher, author, and activist Julian Bond has been a civil rights leader for more than 50 years, involved in such issues as voting rights and engaged with such groups as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He served as president of the Atlanta branch for 11 years, and 12 years as chair of the NAACP board. Bond also served as an elected official four terms in Georgia’s House and six in its Senate. His poems and articles also have been published in The Nation, Life, and The New York Times.

Bond’s recognitions are numerous and include the 2002 National Freedom Award and being named a “Living Legend” in 2008 by the Library of Congress. He holds 25 honorary degrees and currently teaches in American University’s Department of Government.

 

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