2008 Commencement

Honorary Degree Citation
Harriet Levine Weissman '58
May 25, 2008

Harriet Levine Weissman, class of 1958, your alma mater is proud to honor you on the occasion of your fiftieth reunion. Philanthropist, connoisseur, confidante, and sage, you, along with husband Paul, are beloved members of the Mount Holyoke community. In 1984, you and Paul dedicated a collection of works by contemporary American women artists, which traveled to major American museums as part of the College's Sesquicentennial celebration. You hoped that this collection of work by contemporary women artists would "act as a catalyst to inspire pride, provoke challenge, and above all, encourage the students at Mount Holyoke to excel in whatever life pursuits they choose to follow." Later, as a member of the Art Advisory Committee, you have provided expertise and insight to Mount Holyoke's Art Museum drawn from your experience as the founding director of the Museum Gallery of the White Plains Library.

After joining the College's Board of Trustees in 1997, you became an articulate champion of students and an impassioned advocate for the College. The newly launched Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program caught your imagination, and seeing shy first-year students emerge as self-confident, articulate women captured your heart. You and Paul provided the vision and generous resources that allowed us to develop what is now an indispensable part of our programming, the thriving Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, soon to celebrate its tenth year.

In your decade-long service on the board, you could always be counted on for deep engagement, uncommon wisdom, and natural leadership. You were also an inspiring cochair of our tremendously successful Legacy of Leadership campaign, and you and Paul are right there with us to this day, indispensable partners in our current campaign.

Your vision and generosity have enriched other institutions as well. With Paul, you endowed Harvard's innovative Weissman International Internship Program and the Weissman Preservation Center. The Neuberger Museum, Strawbery Banke in your beloved Portsmouth, and the Expeditionary Learning Schools/Outward Bound program have all learned what Mount Holyoke has long known: when it comes to finding a leader who will inspire pride and encourage excellence, Harriet Weissman knows no equal. Reflecting on the Weissman Center's 2003 Pontigny colloquium, you wrote that "Words cannot adequately convey the enrichment you have brought to our lives." Mount Holyoke, with gratitude, returns the compliment. Harriet Levine Weissman, it is with great pleasure that I confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Related Links:

Honorary Degree Address
By Harriet L. Weissman '58

Harriet L. Weissman '58 Reception Photo Gallery

2008 Commencement Home Page