590 Diplomas to be Awarded at Mount Holyoke College’s 169th Commencement

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 10:24

Joyce Carol Oates to be honored along with four others, including Eric Reeves, Smith College professor and activist for human rights in Sudan, and Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which advocates the teaching of evolution in public schools.

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2006

Contact: Allison Gillis
413-538-2030

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass.--National Book Award winner and best-selling author Joyce Carol Oates will be the speaker at Mount Holyoke’s 169th commencement on Sunday, May 28, at which 590 seniors—including 50 Frances Perkins Scholars—will receive bachelor of arts degrees. One master’s degree and 21 certificates for international students will also be awarded.

Oates will be joined by honorary degree recipients Kitty Kyriacopoulos, mining entrepreneur and philanthropist and a 1945 Mount Holyoke graduate; Eric Reeves, professor of English language and literature at Smith College and an activist for human rights in Sudan; Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a not-for-profit organization that advocates the teaching of evolution in public schools; and Hilda Chen Apuy, a 1944 Mount Holyoke graduate and Costa Rican-Chinese scholar who received Costa Rica’s highest cultural award in 2004.

Chosen to speak for the graduating class is Margaret “Mollie” McDermott, a neuroscience major from Mandeville, Louisiana.

Commencement ceremonies will begin at 10:30 am in Gettell Amphitheater. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in Kendall Field House.

Saturday, May 27, features two of the College’s most cherished and time-honored commencement traditions: the alumnae parade and laurel chain ceremony, and the canoe sing. At 9 am at Woolley Circle, members of the class of 2006 will be led by alumnae “loyalty classes” in a procession to Mary Lyon’s grave, carrying a chain of garland that they will place at the gravesite. They will join in singing “Bread and Roses,” a song that became the anthem of workers who went on strike at a textile mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, demanding reasonable hours and pay. The canoe sing begins at 10:30 pm, on Lower Lake. Twelve canoes, each decorated with lanterns and seating three seniors chosen by lottery, will illuminate the lake while changing formations. Seniors on the banks of the lake will join those in canoes in singing previously rehearsed songs.

About the Honorary Degree Recipients:

Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific and highly regarded writers of our time, has published to date 50 novels and novellas, 29 short story collections, eight books of poetry, eight drama collections, 11 nonfiction volumes, 17 anthologies, six books for children and young adults, as well as hundreds of uncollected stories, poems, articles, essays, and reviews. She won the National Book Award in 1970 for her novel them, and the PEN/Malamud Award in 1996 for Excellence in Short Fiction. Brilliantly imaginative and erudite, Oates scrutinizes, in work after work, the distinctive and often tumultuous nature of American character, culture, and literary tradition. She is an experimental writer who, as John Barth has commented, “writes all over the aesthetical map,” including fictionalized biography, postmodern Gothic novels, and pseudonymous suspense thrillers. Several of her novels, including Bellefleur, Black Water, We Were the Mulvaneys, and Blonde have been national best sellers. In 2003 she received the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and in 2005 she was honored with France’s Prix Femina Award for The Falls, chosen as best novel by a foreign writer. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

Kitty Kyriacopoulos ’45

Kitty Kyriacopoulos translated her liberal arts education into a remarkable career as a leader in the mining industry. As a philanthropist, she has been a powerful advocate for higher education and for Greek culture. In 1999 she was named one of the 50 leading women entrepreneurs by the Star Group and NFWBO, and in 2002 she was invited to join the French Legion of Honor National Order.

Kyriacopoulos took over her family’s mining companies Bauxites Parnasse and Silver and Baryte Ores after her father passed away in 1970, leaving her as his only heir. The companies prospered under Kyriacopoulos's leadership, which focused on building a culture based on family ethical values and traditions.

Kyriacopoulos was born in Romania and received her basic education in England and France. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1945 with a concentration in physics and mathematics and did graduate work at Columbia University.

Eric Reeves
Eric Reeves is a professor of English language and literature at Smith College. He has spent the past seven years working full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the U.S. and internationally, and his essays on Sudan have appeared in papers including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. He has testified several times before Congress, has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan, and has raised international awareness about human rights violations in Sudan.

Reeves received his undergraduate degree from Williams College and his Ph.D. in Renaissance literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. He began teaching at Smith in 1979.

Eugenie Scott
Eugenie C. Scott is the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a not-for-profit membership organization that works to improve the teaching of evolution and advocates the teaching of evolution in public schools. Scott has served on the board of directors of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and the advisory counsels of several church and state separation organizations and is the author of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction. She has held elective offices in the American Anthropological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been awarded the National Science Board Public Service Award, among other honors.

Scott holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Missouri and has taught at the University of Kentucky and the University of Colorado.

Hilda Chen Apuy ’44
Hilda Chen Apuy is a Costa Rican-Chinese scholar and intellectual. She has been a pioneer in research and the study of Asian cultures and an advocate for education and cultural assimilation in Costa Rica. In 2004 she was named winner of the Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón, the country’s highest cultural award. Chen Apuy taught at the University of Costa Rica from 1948 to 1984 and was largely responsible for the introduction of the university’s Asian studies program. She taught Sanskrit, philosophy, Oriental thought, and Asian history.