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  April 28, 2003

Commencement Speakers To
Include Journalist, Financier

Les Payne, a Pulitzer-prize winning alumnus who is a columnist and editor at Long Island's Newsday, will deliver the traditional charge to undergraduates at twin Commencement exercises at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 17 at Gampel Pavilion.

Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, will give the address at the Graduate Commencement on Sunday, May 18 at 3 p.m. in Gampel.

Image: Les Payne

Les Payne

Photo by J. Conrad Williams, Jr.
Newsday Staff Photographer

Arthur Levitt Jr.

Arthur Levitt Jr.

Photo by Carl Cox

Albie Sachs, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will address graduates at the School of Law, on Sunday, May 18 at 10:30 a.m. and Dushanka Kleinman, deputy director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health, will address graduates of the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine on Monday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at the Health Center.

Payne, Class of 1964, is the founder and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 as part of an investigative team that tracked international drug trafficking and produced a series entitled "The Heroin Trail." He is associate managing editor for national, science, and international news at Newsday and a syndicated columnist for the Tribune Media Services. His news staffs have won every major award in journalism, including three recent Pulitzer Prizes.

As an investigative reporter, Payne has covered Long Island migrant farm workers, involuntary sterilization, illegal immigrants, the Black Panther Party, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. His coverage of the Symbionese Liberation Army and the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst led to his book The Life and Death of the SLA. He is writing a soon-to-be published biography of Malcolm X.

Payne, who was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., grew up in Hartford and has covered stories in the Caribbean, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Botswana, Guinea, Zambia, Mali, Niger, Upper Volta, Kenya, and Namibia. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

Other honorary degrees to be awarded at the undergraduate ceremonies include:

  • Frederick Fennell, a member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, the world's leading conductor of music for wind instruments, and a frequent visitor to the University to share his expertise with students and faculty: Doctor of Fine Arts;
  • John Kluge, chairman and president of Metromedia Company, owner of independent TV stations that later were sold to form the FOX network, notable for his philanthropic activities: Doctor of Humane Letters;
  • Henry C. Lee, former Connecticut commissioner of public safety and director emeritus of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory: Doctor of Science; and
  • Gordon Parks, an award-winning photographer, writer, composer and filmmaker: Doctor of Fine Arts. An exhibit of Parks' photographic works will be held at the Benton Museum in the fall.

Levitt is the longest serving chairman of the SEC, where investor protection was his top priority. He is the former chair and chief executive officer of the New York Stock Exchange and the former owner of Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corp. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Also receiving an honorary degree at the Graduate Ceremony will be Daniel C. Dennett, university professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Known for his work on cognitive science, integrating and building on the work of philosophers, linguists, experimental psychologists, neurophysiologists, evolutionary biologists, computer scientists, and social theorists, he is the author of eight major books. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

At the Health Center, Philip Leder will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of mammalian molecular genetic research, Leder isolated a gene that plays a significant role in the development of certain types of cancer. Leder is the director of the Harvard Institute of Human Genetics, as well as chairman of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. He is also a senior investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.

Also at the Health Center exercises, Harald Löe, dean emeritus and professor emeritus of periodontics of the School of Dental Medicine, will receive the University Medal.

A native of Norway, Löe joined the UConn Health Center in 1974 and has served in leadership positions in organizations such as Denmark's Royal Dental College, the Dental Research Institute at the University of Michigan, and the National Institute of Dental Research.

The University Medal is among the University's highest honors and is given in recognition of distinction in a field or profession in public service and for outstanding achievement or leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

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