Robert H. Forrester—philanthropist, chief executive, educator, global citizen—you exemplify Mount Holyoke’s mission of using liberal learning for purposeful engagement in the world.
You served your country as a captain in the United States Army in the Republic of Vietnam and have continued to live a life of service, working with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. After working in higher-education administration at New York University and the University of Hartford, you founded Payne, Forrester and Associates, an international consulting group providing advice to nonprofits.
When your good friend Paul Newman established the Newman’s Own Foundation, you answered the call. (Who could resist?!) The perfect person to head the foundation, you have built upon and expanded his legacy. The Newman’s Own foundation donates 100 percent of its profits to a wide range of nonprofit organizations worldwide. To date, more that $400 million has been donated. From supporting women in the military to girls in Kenya, nutrition programs in New York City schools to camps for seriously ill children, literacy and educational access to leadership development programs, the foundation, under your guidance, has demonstrated a profound and lasting impact locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. And, of course, Mount Holyoke was proud to partner with Newman’s Own in sponsoring The Academic Minute, a National Public Radio program designed to promote participatory democracy by providing listeners with a glimpse into cutting-edge research, scholarship, and creative activities taking place in colleges and universities around the world.
As founder of the Safe Water Network, based in the United States, Ghana, and India; and as the founding director of the Discovery Center, a classroom without walls for a future without prejudice; you give generously of your time and expertise. In addition, you serve on the Strategy Council of the United Nations Association of the USA, on the University of Hartford’s Board of Regents, and as a member of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.
Perhaps most importantly, as a speaker on college campuses, you educate and motivate the next generation to develop their own commitment to philanthropy. This then, is your great contribution; your influence is felt not only through your remarkable life of service and philanthropy, but also in the many ways that your example inspires others to serve.
We are grateful for your leadership, and we are extremely proud to welcome you into the Mount Holyoke community by bestowing upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.