Honorary Degree Citation
May 23, 2010
Victoria Hale, scientist, social entrepreneur, and global citizen, your efforts to provide medical treatment to those who would otherwise be denied have saved innumerable lives, and you have brought new energy to the fight to improve public health worldwide.
Your story is testimony to the power of scientific knowledge when it is wielded with ingenuity and compassion. With training in pharmaceutical chemistry you began your impressive career in the Food & Drug Administration and then in the biotechnology and health private sectors. In 2000, though, you took a leap of faith and set out to address more directly the vexed challenge of combating infectious diseases among the world' s poor, by founding the Institute for OneWorld Health. This new organization was born from your realization that although pharmaceutical corporations often have the technology and resources to change the landscape of public health, they are bounded by their profit motive and thus treatments do not always reach those in need, particularly in the developing world.
Collaborating across corporations, governments, and NGOs, the Institute for OneWorld Health, the nation's first nonprofit pharmaceutical company, has developed effective drugs and treatments based on pharmaceutical research previously abandoned as unprofitable or due to lack of funding. With its partners, your organization has surmounted scientific, regulatory, and logistical challenges that have thwarted others, and the result has been the development and distribution of affordable drugs for neglected diseases that afflict the world’s poorest populations. Your latest venture, about which we expect to hear more in the months ahead, promises a second-generation effort in social entrepreneurship, this one addressing an issue particularly close to many of us at Mount Holyoke, reproductive health.
Dr. Hale, you wrote that "One can view the world in two ways: from the perspective of the problem, or from the perspective of the opportunity." When others turned away from the problem, you seized the opportunity, leaving a legacy of health and hope where before there was none. You remind us that as global citizens we can and must use our own insight and influence, no matter our station, to make the world a better place. It is thus with great honor that I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.