Gail Collins

Honorary Degree Citation

May 23, 2010

Gail Collins, Mount Holyoke College is delighted to welcome you as our 173rd commencement speaker and to salute your many accomplishments as one of the country’s most admired and beloved journalists and political commentators. Your New York Times columns have become, for many of us, the first thing we turn to every Thursday and Saturday morning. Your wisdom and wit have been particularly treasured as the nation’s political discourse has become ever more polarized and shrill. Twice a week, you make us smile, but you also make us smarter.

We are pleased to have you back in New England, where you earned a master’s degree in Government from UMass Amherst, and began your career in journalism by founding the Connecticut State News Bureau. From an attic in Hartford, you honed your talents as one of our keenest and funniest analysts of first local and then national politics, in all their messy glory. Since no one has spotted our current governor driving to Canada with the family pet strapped to the roof of his car, Massachusetts may be providing you with less material than in the past, but fortunately, other state governors have more than filled the void. But we digress…

Before joining the editorial board of the Times in 1995, you were a columnist at New York’s Newsday and the Daily News, and a reporter for United Press International. In 2001, you became the first woman ever appointed editor of the Times editorial page, a position that put you at the helm of the most influential opinion page in the country. You ran the editorial page through six tumultuous years that included the 9/11 attacks and the advent of the “war on terror.” In 2007, you stepped aside to finish your latest book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, and to return, to the delight of legions of readers, to your role as a columnist, just in time for the historic 2008 presidential race. Your trenchant dispatches from that campaign, especially your insightful reporting on Hillary Clinton’s drive to be the first woman president, reminded us all just how dramatically women’s roles have changed in our lifetimes and yet how much work remains before us. We are proud to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.