‘Times’ Columnist David Brooks Is Commencement Speaker


Political commentator and critically acclaimed author David Brooks will deliver the main address at Dartmouth’s 2015 Commencement exercises on Sunday morning, June 14, on the Green.

Commencement, Students in Cap and gowns

(Photo by Corinne Arndt Girouard )

Since September 2003, Brooks has written an op-ed column for The New York Times that has helped shape important conversations of the day, from the future of the Republican Party to the dangers of what he sees as the moral relativism of modern society.

Brooks is a commentator on The PBS NewsHour, NPR’s All Things Considered, and NBC’s Meet the Press, and his most recent book is The Road to Character. He is also the author of Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There; On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense; and The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, which was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. Brooks is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Last fall he taught an undergraduate course at Yale University titled “Humility,” examining traditional and contemporary understandings of character.

Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon ’77 will deliver the Valedictory Address to the graduates. Also speaking will be the student valedictory speaker from the undergraduate senior class, who will be announced the week of Commencement, after final grades are calculated.

The other honorary degree recipients are:

  • Russell Carson ’65: philanthropist, co-founder of private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe
  • Steven Chu: former U.S. Secretary of Energy, professor of physics and molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford
  • Earl Lewis: president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • William Neukom ’64, former executive vice president of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft; CEO and founder of the World Justice Project
  • Terry Plank ’85, Columbia geochemist, MacArthur fellow
  • Valerie Steele ’78, director and curator, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Dartmouth typically awards about 1,000 bachelor’s degrees and 600 master’s and doctoral degrees in the arts and sciences and from the College’s three professional schools: the Geisel School of Medicine, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business.

The academic procession to the Green begins at 9.30 a.m., and visitors are advised to be in their seats by that time. Commencement ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.

Biographical Information for Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients

David Brooks
(Photo by Josh Haner)

David Brooks (Doctor of Letters)
Political and cultural commentator
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brooks graduated with a bachelor’s of history from the University of Chicago in 1983. He became a police reporter for the City News Bureau, a wire service owned jointly by the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times.

Before his current role at The New York Times, Brooks worked at The Washington Times and then The Wall Street Journal. His first post at the Journal was as editor of the book review section, and he filled in as the Journal’s movie critic; his last post at the Journal was as op-ed editor. Prior to that, he was posted in Brussels, covering Russia, the Middle East, South Africa, and European affairs.

He also served as a senior editor at The Weekly Standard for nine years, as well as a contributing editor for The Atlantic and Newsweek.

Russell Carson

(Photo courtesy of Russ Carson ’65)

Russell Carson ’65 (Doctor of Humane Letters)
Philanthropist and investor
Russell Carson ’65 served as a trustee of the College from 2001 to 2010. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, he earned a BA in economics from Dartmouth and an MBA in finance from Columbia Business School in 1967, then joined Citigroup’s Citicorp Venture Capital subsidiary, where he served as chairman and CEO from 1974 to 1978.

In 1978 Carson co-founded the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, where he serves as a general partner. Carson leads the firm’s health care investment activities and is chairman of Ardent Health Services and Select Medical Corporation.

Carson is chairman of The Rockefeller University and the Partnership for Inner-City Education, chairman emeritus of Columbia Business School, co-chairman of the New York Genome Center, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York-Presbyterian Health System, and a director of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. He is also chairman of The Carson Family Charitable Trust, which manages his family’s philanthropic interests.

Steven Chu

(Photo by Steve Fisch)

Steven Chu (Doctor of Science)
Physicist, professor, and public servant
Steven Chu is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Chu served as U.S. Secretary of Energy from 2009 to 2013. Previously he directed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and was professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley; the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University; and head of the quantum electronics research department at AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Chu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Sinica, and a foreign member of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology. He has been awarded 24 honorary degrees, published more than 250 scientific papers, and holds 10 patents.

Earl Lewis

(Photo courtesy of Earl Lewis)

Earl Lewis (Doctor of Humane Letters)
Scholar and historian
Earl Lewis is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the former provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies at Emory University.

Before his job at Emory, Lewis served as vice provost and dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Elsa Barkley Brown and Robin D.G. Kelley Collegiate Professor of History and African American and African Studies at the University of Michigan.

He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in 20th Century Norfolk; To Make Our World Anew: A History of African AmericansThe Young Oxford History of African Americans; Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White; and Defending Diversity: Affirmative Action at the University of Michigan.

Lewis was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008. He received Michigan’s Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award in 1999; the University of Minnesota’s 2001 Outstanding Achievement Award; and an honorary degree from Concordia College in 2002. 

William Neukom

(Photo courtesy of Bill Neukom ’64)

William Neukom ’64 (Doctor of Humane Letters)
Philanthropist and legal advocate
Bill Neukom ’64 is the founder and chief executive officer of the World Justice Project, which promotes the rule of law throughout the world.

A retired partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm K&L Gates, where he served as chairman from 2003 to 2007, and an adjunct lecturer at Stanford Law School, Neukom was lead lawyer for Microsoft Corporation for nearly 25 years, retiring in 2002 as executive vice president of law and corporate affairs to return to K&L Gates.

A Dartmouth trustee emeritus and former chair of the board, he has served as president of the American Bar Association, CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and is currently on the board of directors of Fortinet, Inc. He also serves on the boards of The Asia Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, Ecotrust, the Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, and the Dean’s Council at Stanford Law School. In 1995, he and his children founded the Neukom Family Foundation, supporting education, the environment, health, human services, and justice.  

Terry Plank

(Photo courtesy of Terry Plank)

Terry Plank ’85 (Doctor of Science)
Geochemist, professor
Terry Plank is the Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. A geochemist who studies magmas associated with the plate tectonic cycle, she is known for her studies of subduction zones.

Plank graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in earth sciences. She received a doctorate from Columbia University in 1993 and taught on the faculty of the University of Kansas and Boston University before joining Columbia University in 2008.

Plank received the Houtermans Medal from the European Association for Geochemistry and the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, the Geological Society of America, and the Mineralogical Society of America. In 2012 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and in 2013 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Valerie Steele

(Photo by Michael Kanakis)

Valerie Steele ’78 (Doctor of Arts)
Curator, fashion studies pioneer
Valerie Steele is director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she has organized more than 20 exhibitions since 1997.

Steele, who earned her PhD from Yale University, has been instrumental in creating the modern field of fashion studies and in raising awareness of the cultural significance of fashion, appearing on television in The Oprah Winfrey Show and Undressed: The Story of Fashion. Described in The Washington Post as one of “fashion’s brainiest women” and by journalist and fashion critic Suzy Menkes as “The Freud of Fashion,” she was listed among “Fashion’s 50 Most Powerful” by the New York Daily News and as one of “The People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry” in the Business of Fashion 500 (2014).

She is founder and editor-in-chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, the first peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in fashion studies, and the author or co-author of more than 20 books about fashion, including, recently, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk.

Additional Commencement Information

A variety of events take place before Commencement, including Class Day and Investiture ceremonies for Dartmouth’s three professional schools, and Baccalaureate, a multifaith service open to all graduates and their guests. Speakers will be added on the Commencement website as further information becomes available. The events, in chronological order, are:

Saturday, June 6:

  • 9 a.m., Class Day, Geisel School of Medicine, Leede Arena, Berry Sports Center; keynote speaker: Lorna B. Stuart, DPhil, MD, founder and medical director of The Clinic, a nonprofit, full-time, volunteer-run medical facility for those without health insurance 

Saturday, June 13:

Speakers for Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business Class Day and Investiture ceremonies; and for Baccalaureate Service

  • 10 a.m., Thayer School of Engineering Investiture Ceremony, Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center; keynote speaker: Steven Chu, PhD, Stanford physicist and professor; former U.S. Secretary of Energy
  • 10:15 a.m., Class Day Exercises for seniors and their guests; Bema (Leverone Field House in case of rain)
  • 1:30 p.m., Phi Beta Kappa Induction Ceremony, Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center
  • 2:30 p.m., Tuck School of Business Investiture Ceremony, Tuck Circle (Leede Arena in case of rain); keynote speaker: Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor Jr., Tuck ’88, chairman of Intercorp and general partner of Nexus Group, which invests in Peru and the Andean Region and manages a portfolio of companies; member of Tuck’s Board of Overseers
  • 3 p.m., Baccalaureate: multi-faith service for all graduates and their guests, Rollins Chapel; service begins at 3 p.m., doors open at 2:30 p.m.; keynote speaker: Rashida Tlaib, BA, JD, community partnerships and development director, Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Detroit; former Michigan state representative; and Campaign to Take On Hate Leadership Committee
  • 3 p.m., Graduate Studies Investiture Ceremony, Bema; All AM, MALS, MS, MPH, and PhD graduates. (In case of rain, the ceremony will be delayed to 4 p.m. and moved to Spaulding Auditorium in the Hopkins Center.)
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