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Commencement 2006
Honorary degrees to Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report," Ambassador Shirley E. Barnes, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
April 06, 2006

At its 2006 commencement ceremony, Knox College will award honorary degrees to Stephen Colbert, star of "The Colbert Report"; Shirley E. Barnes, former U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar; and Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.

The ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, June 3, on the south lawn of Knox's historic Old Main, is free and open to the public. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in T. Fleming Fieldhouse. Due to limited indoor seating, graduates, their families and invited guests with tickets will receive priority seating. Those without tickets will be admitted as space permits.

Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert, who will deliver the commencement address, will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree. From 1997 until 2005 he was a correspondent on the Emmy and Peabody award winning political humor program "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and contributed to the best-selling book "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." Colbert now hosts his own show on Comedy Central network, "The Colbert Report," which spoofs pretentious, personality-driven commentary programs.

An alumnus of Chicago's famed Second City improv troupe, Colbert has written for "Saturday Night Live," written and acted in "The Dana Carvey Show," and co-starred in the film "Bewitched." He helped create several noted comedy programs, including the first live-action, narrative series, "Strangers with Candy," and "Exit 57," which received five CableACE nominations for best writing, performing and comedy series.

Ambassador Shirley E. Barnes
Ambassador Shirley E. Barnes, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree, is president of the Barnes Findley Foundation, which focuses on efforts to prevent human trafficking -- the kidnapping and enslavement, mainly of women and children -- in Africa. Barnes joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1983 and held diplomatic posts in Egypt, Senegal, Germany, Bulgaria and France, serving as United States Ambassador to Madagascar from 1998 to 2001.

Barnes also has held positions in the State Department's Office of Management Policy and Programming, The Ford Foundation, The African-American Institute and The Women's Africa Committee. Prior to joining the Foreign Service she was an executive with several major advertising agencies. Barnes has a bachelor's degree from Baruch College and a master's degree from Columbia University. She also has certificates from the National War College and the State Department's prestigious Senior Seminar. Barnes spoke at Knox in 1998, when she gave the annual Martin Luther King Day Lecture.

Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales will receive the honorary doctor of laws degree. He is the founder of Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopedia that brings together the efforts of thousands of volunteer contributors from around the world. Wikipedia was founded on the principle that almost anyone can create or edit pages of information. The site now contains more than 1-million articles in English, and another 1.7-million in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, and Polish. Wikipedia's plans call for it to eventually have 3-million articles in more than 125 languages.

Wales received a bachelor's degree from Auburn University and a master's degree from the University of Alabama. While studying for a Ph.D., he began working as an options trader in Chicago, and has been developing Internet-based projects since 1996. He created Wikipedia in 2001. Wales is currently director of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which is building on-line resources in a number of areas, including dictionaries, famous quotations, news, and audio-video clips.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 46 states and 43 nations. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Related Links

Commencement Schedule

History of Knox College Honorary Degrees

External Sites
  Comedy Central: Stephen Colbert Biography
  Ambassador Shirley Barnes: Testimony on Human Trafficking (5 MB PDF)
  Wikipedia: Entry on Jimmy Wales and his caveat on the use of Wikipedia


Peter Bailley
309 341 7337

Stephen Colbert

Shirley Barnes

Jimmy Wales