|May 10, 2005
GALESBURG -- Knox College will award honorary degrees to Barack Obama, U.S. Senator from Illinois, and Elizabeth Hayford, president of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, at Knox's commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 4, 2005.
The commencement ceremony, the 160th in Knox's history, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on the south lawn of Knox's landmark "Old Main," the only remaining site of a Lincoln-Douglas debate. The outdoor ceremony is free and open to the public, who are invited to bring their own lawn seating.
Knox will award degrees to 220 graduating seniors, representing 32 states and 12 countries.
In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in T. Fleming Fieldhouse. If the ceremony is moved into Fleming Fieldhouse, it will be free and open to the public on a space-available basis. Indoor seating is limited and priority admission will be given to families of the graduating class and other invited guests with tickets.
Obama, who will deliver the commencement address, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. Hayford, who has guided the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) since 1984, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
"Barack Obama has notable accomplishments as a community organizer and civil rights attorney, as well as during his time in the Illinois State Senate," said Roger Taylor, President of Knox College. Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate last November, with the largest victory margin in Illinois history.
"Elizabeth Hayford has a long and distinguished career in higher education leadership," Taylor said. "She has successfully helped Knox and the other outstanding liberal arts colleges in the ACM share their experience and resources in the areas of international study, science programs and instructional technology." The 14-member educational consortium includes colleges in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado.
Barack Obama, (D-Illinois) was elected to the United States Senate in November 2004 and sworn into office on January 4, 2005. He is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Veterans' Affairs Committee, and the Foreign Relations Committee.
Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, he served seven years in the Illinois State Senate. He is credited with initiating the Earned Income Tax Credit and expansion of early childhood education, and with drafting proposed legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all criminal cases involving the death penalty.
Obama received his bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1983, and in 1985 moved to Chicago to work for a church-based neighborhood improvement group. He received his law degree in 1991 from Harvard Law School where he was the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. Last February he received the NAACP 2005 Chairman's Award in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.
Elizabeth Hayford has served as president of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) since 1984, after having served as vice president for academic programs at the ACM from 1981 to 1984. She supervises off-campus study programs and a large number of faculty and curricular development activities. She has directed ACM grants from both national foundations and federal agencies.
Hayford previously worked as an associate of the Yale-China Association at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (1978-81); associate dean/assistant dean of arts and sciences at Oberlin College (1972-1978); director of Judaic and Near Eastern studies at Oberlin (1977-78); resident director of the Great Lakes Colleges Association Japan Study Program (1974-75); and research and editorial assistant at Bunting Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1964-65).
Hayford has taught at Oberlin College, Waseda University in Japan, Case Western Reserve University; and the University of Lowell, in Massachusetts. She has consulted on international education and served on review panels for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Security Education Program. Hayford holds a doctorate in history from Tufts University, a master's in regional studies from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College.
About Knox College
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 46 states and 41 nations. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. Founded by a religious colony from upstate New York, Knox graduated its first class in 1846 -- nine men -- five who went into the ministry, an attorney, a college professor, a journalist and a physician. The first black U.S. Senator, Hiram Revels, attended Knox in 1857-58, and the first black college graduate in Illinois, Barnabus Root, graduated from Knox in 1870.
Barack Obama is the fourth U.S. Senator from Illinois to be awarded an honorary degree from Knox. Paul Simon was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1987, Charles Percy in 1973 and Paul Douglas in 1952.
Knox also awarded an honorary degree to an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois -- Abraham Lincoln, who was honored in 1860, prior to his election as President. Lincoln had lost the 1858 senatorial election to Stephen Douglas, following the series of debates -- one of which was held at Knox -- that catapulted Lincoln to national prominence.
The doctorate awarded to Lincoln was the first honorary degree given in Knox's history, and the first educational degree of any kind for Lincoln. In announcing the degree, Knox trustee Orville H. Browning, himself a U.S. Senator from 1861 to 1863, jokingly advised Lincoln to "...consider yourself a 'scholar,' as well as a 'gentleman,' and deport yourself accordingly."