Brown University conferred honorary degrees on Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela and seven other distinguished recipients during its 242nd Commencement exercises, Sunday, May 30, 2010. The degrees were conferred on actor <a href="">Morgan Freeman</a>, computer scientist <a href="">Barbara Liskov</a>, human rights leader <a href="">Nelson Mandela</a>, author <a href="">Shahrnush Parsipur</a>, civic leader <a href="">Cecile Richards</a>, reporter <a href="">David Rohde</a>, historian <a href="">Romila Thapar</a>, and historian <a href="">Gordon S. Wood</a>. The <em>charge d’affaires</em> at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington accepted the degree on Mandela’s behalf.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University conferred eight honorary degrees during its 242nd Commencement Sunday afternoon, May 30, 2010, on the College Green. The degrees were conferred in Latin, as are all Brown degrees. The following honorary citations were read in English during the ceremony.


Morgan Freeman: Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
Morgan Freeman Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
Morgan Freeman  Actor
Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.)
Biographical notes

Yours is a name synonymous with distinguished acting. In elementary school you starred in the school play, but at forty you had yet to land a major film role. But upon seeing the 1987 film Street Smart, critic Pauline Kael asked, “Is Morgan Freeman the greatest American actor?” As an actor you are authoritative and serene; commanding and warm. In films that have addressed subjects such as slavery, apartheid, and the Hollywood blacklist, you have sought to make a difference. You have said that “stillness” is the key to acting, adding that stillness can become “radiance.” With five Oscar nominations and a best supporting actor award for Million Dollar Baby, your star shines bright. For your dedication to the acting craft and the stillness that you bring to each role, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

Quandocumque aliquis tuum nomen loquitur, nos omnes statim clarissimos histriones reminiscimur. Iuvenis in ludo litterarum in scaenam prodisti, sed natus quadraginto annos adhuc in fabula primas partes non egeras. Quo tandem peracto, una nota critica, loquens de fabula, Perito Urbanorum, rogavit hicne vir optimus histrio Americanus esset. Unus ex celebrissimis histronibus nostri temporis, et auctoritatem et tranquillitatem habes, potensque lucidusque es. Ut orbem terrarum meliorem reddas, partes in fabulis de servitudine, de separatione iniqua in Africa Australi, et de scriptoribus histronibusque in America propter eorum societatem interdictis agere maluisti. Dixisti tranquillitatem in magno discrimino agendo esse et tranquillitatem fieri posse splendorem. Petitor praemiorum summorum histrionibus Americanis et potitus nuper hoc praemio pro Femina Inaestimabili, felix semper permanes. Ob te deditum scaenae et tuam “splendorem tranquillitatemque,” te Doctorem in Artibus Elegantibus, honoris causa.


Barbara Liskov: Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Barbara Liskov Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Barbara Liskov  Computer Scientist
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.)
Biographical notes

Pioneering computer scientist, you went boldly where few women had gone before. You were among the first women to receive a Ph.D. in computer science, and when you joined the MIT faculty in 1972, you were only the tenth woman to do so. Your groundbreaking work in developing the programming languages CLU and Argus laid the foundations for object-oriented and distributed computing and became the basis for the Java and C++ languages widely used today. Your achievements earned the 2008 Turing Award, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize in computing.” For your far-reaching work with the smart machines that inform our daily lives, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Praeclara docta in scientia computatoria, dux femina facti: una ex primis feminis quae Doctores in Scientia Computatoria salutatae sunt, decima quidem femina quae professor apud Massachusettense Institutum Technologiae fiebat. Linguas programmaton computatoriorum, CLU et Argum, explicavisti; quibus uti postea alii novas linguas, exempli gratia Javam, communes multis hodie condiderunt. Propter facta illustria, praemio summo scientiae computatoriae in orbe terrarum potita es. Propter tuas rationes novas de his machinis magni auctoritatis, te Doctorem in Scientia salutamus, honoris causa.


Nelson Mandela: Johnny Moloto of the South African embassy accepts the Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) on behalf of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela Johnny Moloto of the South African embassy accepts the Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) on behalf of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela  Nobel Laureate, Human Rights Champion
Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)
Biographical notes
Accepted by Johnny Moloto, Embassy of South Africa

Courage. Tolerance. Respect. Integrity. Justice. Peace. These are just a few of the words that describe your character, and your impact on the world. You sacrificed and fought through words and deeds for the freedom of the people of South Africa, leading always by personal example and with grace and dignity that could not be ignored. From within the high walls of Robben Island your unyielding commitment to the rights of all humans to live free of bondage was a beacon of hope to all corners of the globe. And twenty years ago, as you walked free from your unjust imprisonment, the peoples of all nations saw the power and strength of your resolve and the depth of your compassion. The world today is a more hopeful place for your presence in it and your life welllived. For that, we are deeply grateful. Brown University joins the chorus of your admirers in saluting your accomplishments, praying for your continued success, and welcoming you to the company of alumni of this international institution. We honor you with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Cuius mores, qui homines omnes commoverunt, vix paucis verbis comprehendi possunt — has tantum laudo, fortitudinem tolerantiam reverentiam honestatem iustitiam clementiam — tu rebus omnibus libenter carens dictisque factisque concertavisti pro libertate populi Africae Australis, exemplum gravitatis decorisque insigne sequentibus semper praebens. Qui etiam carcere profundo inclusus quasi lucem mundo dabas dum homines omnes in libertatem pertinaciter adseris, mores istos populis exhibuisti et liberatus, ex quo tempore spes hominibus omnibus usque auges vitaque exemploque tuo. Quare gratias tibi quam maximas agentes nos Brunenses cum multis quidem facta tua laudamus, prosperitatem tibi precamur, atque in numerum nostrorum gratissime accipimus. Auctoritate mihi commissa te ad gradum in Legibus Doctoris admitto, omniaque iura atque privilegia ad hunc gradum pertinentia tibi concedo. In huius testimonium hoc diploma tibi laetissime do.


Shahrnush Parsipur: Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Shahrnush Parsipur Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Shahrnush Parsipur  Author
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Biographical notes

Courageous chronicler of women’s struggle for equality, from childhood on, you created powerful stories of your own. At the University of Tehran, you took night classes due to restrictions on the few women enrolled there and studied Chinese philosophy and mythology – a favorite theme in your novels. Set in your native Iran, your stories evoke universal themes: sexuality, tradition, subjugation, rebellion, dignity, and growth. Your brave exploration of women’s status in Iran led to your imprisonment, once for five years — an experience you described as “exceedingly frightful.” Now an American, you and your writing continue to inspire readers around the world and to shed light on the lives of contemporary Iranians. For your brilliance as a writer and honesty as a witness, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

Quae fortiter multa de aliis mulieribus aequalitatem civium adipisci contendentibus scripsisti, tu ipse magna fabula es. Scholas Universitate Teherani audivisti, sed tantum nocte, quod scientia multis mulieribus interdicta est. Fabulaa, quorum personae in tua patria Irania vivunt, tamen de rebus notis omnibus — voluptatibus Venereis, more maiorum, domitis populis, seditione, dignitate, alimentis mentis — narras. Quoniam sine timore quomodo feminae in Irania haberentur disputavisti, isti, quos penes omnium summa rerum est, te in vincula coniecerunt; quin etiam olim quinque annos — terrible dictu — carcere interclusa es. Facta civis nostrae patriae, iam nunc tuis scriptis mores Iranianarum aperis. Lumen eloquentiae et probitatem spectatam contra tyrannos habes, quare te in Litteris Doctorem salutamus, honoris causa.


Cecile Richards: Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Cecile Richards Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Cecile Richards  Civic Leader
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Biographical notes

Activist daughter of a Texas governor, you were raised to believe in social justice and public service by your mother, Ann Richards, who was known for wit and grit in equal measure. Early in life you embodied that same steely determination to make things right. As a Brown undergraduate you supported a union’s quest for better health care plans. After Brown, you organized low-wage workers in three states and then founded America Votes, which brought the energy of 42 national organizations to bear on voter registration. Today, as president of Planned Parenthood you advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. For devoting your life to the wellbeing of women and working people across the nation, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

O filia gubernatoris Texiae, nata a matre forti ingenioque acutissima, perita rerum promptaque natura ad rem politicam et ad aequalitatem civium, a principio cum eadem gravitate novis rebus studebas et ad mores rei publicae corrigendas ferebaris. Apud Universitatem Brunensem inter condiscipulos collegium fabrorum ad meliora iura de valitudine obtinanda adiuvavisti; postea, collegio ad suffragium impertiendum nomine ‘America Votes’ condito, consociebas XLII collegia societatesque civium Civitatis Foederatis Americae ut illos, quibus est ius suffragi ferendi, invenirent et rationem nominatim conficerent; praesenti tempore, praeses collegi ad consulendum de partu, pro valitudine feminarum iuribusque de partu fecunditateque propugnas. Incumbas semper in causam feminarum et illorum qui operam conducticiam praebent, quare in Litteris Humanoribus Doctorem te animo grato salutamus, honoris causa.


David Rohde: Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
David Rohde Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
David Rohde  Reporter
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Biographical notes

From the world’s most troubled regions ± places we need to see but often cannot — you have reported on old conflicts and new wars. Your dispatches from Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have graced some of our best newspapers with facts, fairness, and insight. Your journalistic ideals and humanity ensure the integrity of your reporting, and your courage is immense. Imprisoned by the Taliban for seven months, you thrilled the world with your escape last June – and then you wrote about it for the New York Times. Those five articles, soon to be a book, recently won the Medill School of Journalism’s Medal for Courage in Journalism. Now, on the 20th anniversary of your graduation from Brown, we welcome you home and honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

O vir fortis et virtutis integrae, multa sine ira et studio de bellis et nuper coeptis et inverteratis, de regionibus turbatissimis et remotis ab oculis nostris, id est Bosnia et Iraquia et Afgania, scripsisti. Coniectus es in vincula a Talibanis septem menses, sed elapsus manibus hostium — mirabile dictu! — proximo anno de captivitate tua litteras scripsisti et diurna actorum tuorum curatius perlegimus. Pro illis quinque litteris, quas mox edes, viri doctissimi, qui de veritate e scholis scriptorum nomine ‘Medill School of Journalism’ percontantur, te honore praecipuo praemiisque virtutis maximae affixerunt. Hodie, alumne viginti annos fidelis, excipimus benigno vultu et in Litteris Doctorem te animo grato salutamus, honoris causa.


Romila Thapar: Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Romila Thapar Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Romila Thapar  Historian
Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)
Biographical notes

Scholar and transformative force, you have made it your lifelong mission to uncover India’s rich early past. In doing so, you have articulated the case for tolerance and humanity by exposing the uses and abuses of history. Throughout your career, you have insisted on constructing a portrait of your country that recognizes the complex interplay among political, economic, social, religious, and cultural forces. Mining ancient texts in Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Jain, as well as Old Tamil folklore, you have advocated for history grounded in evidence from multiple sources, languages, and levels of society. In this, Brown’s Year of India, we are privileged to be in your wise presence. For your pioneering work, your ethical convictions, and your immense contributions to your field, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Docta et alacris ad meliorem patriam reddendam, semper aperire ubertatem rerum gestarum populi Indi nixa es. Monstrans quodomo animi nostri a memoria factorum dictorumque dirigi possunt, modo ad meliorem viam, modo ad peiorem, defendisti clementiam et humanitatem. Uta antiqus locis Persicorum, Araborum, Hindorum, et multorum aliorum scriptorum, cum studio exegisti monumentum patriae tuae, in quo pontifices, mercatores, patres, docti — ut breviter dicam, omnes qui sua exempla nobis tradunt — incisi est. Hoc “Anno Indiae” hic apud Bruensem Universitatem, nos gaudemus ut tu, femina tam sapiens, adsis. Quod nos scientia tuis praeclaris scriptis auxisti, quam ob rem te Doctorem in Litteris Humanioribus salutamus, honoris causa.


Gordon Wood: Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Gordon Wood Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Gordon S. Wood  Historian
Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.)
Biographical notes

Professor emeritus, you are a leading historian of the politics, events, and cultural movements that shaped the nation’s birth. Your masterful, Pulitzer-winning 1992 book, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, recast that signal conflict as a revolution of the American mind, in which concepts of democracy, equality, and self-interest transformed the country. Your most recent book, Empire of Liberty, continued the story of the young nation from 1789 to 1815. A finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize in history, this work has drawn praise for its “expansive synthesis” of a formative historical period. Here at Brown, your brilliant lectures engaged students for 40 years, and your deft mentorship produced an impressive cohort of historian-scholars. For your path-breaking publications and memorable teaching, we honor you with the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.

Res Americanas ab patria condita in historiam confers, quae vita, qui mores fuerint, per quos viros quibusque artibus et parta et aucta patria sit. Ex multis libris a te scriptis, tibi honori summo est liber celebris nomine Res Novae Americanae et Mentes Turbatae de statu civitatis verso, de libertate et re publica constituta, de mentibus civium turbatis, de rebus gestis specie agendi publico bono quae patriam transmutaverant. Pro eodem libro summum praemium scriptoribus nomine Pulitzer Prize adsecutus es et hoc anno idem praemium petitur pro libro illustri et gravi, nomine Imperium et Libertas, de re publica aucta imperioque parto. Apud Universitatem Brunensem, magna turba discipulorum te frequentat et eos meliores erudissimosque reddas. O vir penitus doctrina imbute, in Litteris Doctorem te animo grato salutamus, honoris causa.