Gail Collins to Give Commencement Address

Posted: April 1, 2010

Noted author and New York Times columnist Gail Collins will give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the 173rd Mount Holyoke College commencement on Sunday, May 23. Three other women will also receive honorary degrees: outgoing MHC president Joanne V. Creighton; educator, social worker, and activist Sheila Barshay Goldbloom '47; and world health entrepreneur Victoria Hale.

Collins, the first female editor of the New York Times editorial page, has been a prolific journalist and author. Her most recent book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, was published in October 2009 by Little, Brown.

In announcing the selection of Collins, Creighton noted the designated commencement speaker has long been her favorite columnist, and she has visited campus several times to give lectures.

"I'm very pleased Gail Collins will be our speaker, and her new book is so relevant for us," Creighton said. "We're honored to have her, as well as Sheila Goldbloom and Victoria Hale. They are all distinguished women, and they serve as fine exemplars for our graduating seniors ."

As for her own selection by the Board of Trustees as an honorary degree recipient, Creighton, who will be stepping down from her post as of July 1, said she is "delighted to join the class of 2010."

Gail Collins
Doctor of Humane Letters and Commencement Speaker

Gail Collins joined the New York Times in 1995 as a member of the editorial board and went on to become an op-ed columnist. In 2001, she became the first woman ever appointed editor of the Times’s editorial page. She stepped down in early 2007 to take a leave to finish When Everything Changed, then returned to the Times as a columnist in July 2007.

Before joining the Times, Collins was a columnist at New York Newsday and the New York Daily News, and a reporter for United Press International. Her first jobs in journalism were in Connecticut, where she founded the Connecticut State News Bureau, which provided coverage of the state capitol and Connecticut politics. When she sold it in 1977, the CSNB was the largest news service of its kind in the country, with more than 30 weekly and daily newspaper chains.

In addition to her latest book, Collins is the author of America's Women; Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics; and The Millennium Book, which she coauthored with her husband, Dan Collins.

Joanne V. Creighton
Doctor of Humane Letters

Joanne V. Creighton is an outspoken champion of the American liberal arts tradition. She believes that such an education is “at its best, revolutionary. It transforms students; it awakens them to a fuller life of the mind.” A teacher, literary scholar, and experienced academic administrator known for her expertise in strategic planning and implementation, Creighton assumed the presidency of Mount Holyoke College on January 1, 1996.

The Creighton years have seen the launch of three academic centers that represent the meeting points of academic inquiry and the College's commitment to purposeful engagement in the world: the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. As the "fundraiser-in-chief," Creighton has also led the school to the successful completion of a $250 million campaign in 2003, and in significant progress toward the $300 million Campaign for Mount Holyoke, now under way. Under her leadership, the College reached an all-time high in admissions, fundraising, and endowment. She will begin a sabbatical July 1.

Sheila Barshay Goldbloom '47
Doctor of Humane Letters

After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 1947, Goldbloom began her career as a pioneer for change. After obtaining a master of social work degree in 1964 from McGill University, she became a professor in McGill’s School of Social Work, where she was a dedicated, forward-thinking teacher for 28 years; she retired in 1992. Throughout her life she has distinguished herself as a social worker, teacher, and volunteer, working to bridge social and ethnic differences—between English- and French-speaking peoples, between Christians and Jews, and between the haves and the have-nots. She received the National Order of Quebec award in 2008.

Victoria Hale
Doctor of Science

In 2000, Victoria Hale founded a nonprofit pharmaceutical company, the Institute for OneWorld Health, dedicated to developing affordable drugs for neglected diseases that plague the world's poorest populations. She was the company's chairman and CEO until 2008, and she remains on the IOWH board as chair emeritus. Her newest social enterprise is Medicines360, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company dedicated to developing medicines for women and children, including pregnant women. Hale earned a B.S. in pharmacy in 1983 from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry in 1990 from the University of California, San Francisco. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2006.

Related Links:

2010 Commencement

Gail Collins

Joanne V. Creighton

Sheila Goldbloom

Victoria Hale