** Editor's Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Christiane Amanpour will be unable to speak on Saturday and Jim Steinman has had to cancel his visit. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. **

April 10, 2012

AMHERST, Mass.—CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, former UMass professor and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Sheila Bair, playwright and gay-rights activist Martin Duberman, Iran hostage crisis negotiator Ulric Haynes Jr. ’52, chemist David K. Lewis ’64, New York Public Library President and former Amherst College President Anthony W. Marx, acclaimed narrative nonfiction writer John McPhee and hit songwriter Jim Steinman ’69 will all receive honorary degrees from Amherst College during its 191st Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 20, at 10 a.m. on the school’s main quad. Amherst President Biddy Martin will deliver the address during the May 20 ceremonies, and six of the eight honored guests will speak to the approximately 443 members of Amherst’s Class of 2012, their families and friends and the college and Western Massachusetts communities in a series of conversations that are free and open to the public on Saturday, May 19. The schedule of discussions with the honorary degree recipients is available on the Commencement website, www.amherst.edu/commencement.

About the honorary degree recipients

Christiane Amanpour has become one of the world’s most recognized and respected foreign correspondents through more than 25 years of courageous reporting from the Middle East, Somalia, Rwanda, the Balkans and other sites of conflict and crisis. She currently holds a unique dual role as the global affairs anchor of ABC News and the host of the interview program Amanpour on CNN International, where she has been the network’s chief international correspondent since 1992. From 1996 to 2005, she contributed numerous in-depth international reports to 60 Minutes on CBS. Educated in Iran and England and at the University of Rhode Island, Amanpour is a board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation and a director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She is the recipient of multiple Emmy and Peabody Awards, a 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award and a 2011 Walter Cronkite Award—among many other honors—and is a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Her coverage of the Bosnian War in the early 1990s helped to cement her journalistic reputation and inspired her designation as an Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo.  


Sheila Bair, currently senior adviser to The Pew Charitable Trusts, was chair of the United States Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 until 2011 and played a major part in the government’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. Before that, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an associate professor at the UMass Center for Public Policy & Administration since 2002. Her prominent earlier positions included serving as counsel on the Washington, D.C., staff of Sen. Bob Dole from 1981 to 1988, commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the early 1990s, senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange from 1995 to 2000 and then assistant secretary for financial institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. With a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Kansas, Bair is the recipient of a 2009 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award and a Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award for being “one of the first people to take notice and speak against an alarming trend in aggressive lending practices, warning of the need for more regulation to protect consumers” before the economic downturn.


Martin Duberman is a political activist and writer of plays, biographies, historical works, essays, book reviews and more. His writings have earned him a Bancroft Prize, a Vernon Rice/Drama Desk Award, two Lambda Awards, an Award for Scholarly Distinction from the American Historical Association and a special award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He is also a professor emeritus of history at Herbert Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), where, in 1991, he founded the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the nation’s first university-based research center dedicated to the study of issues of concern to LGBTQ individuals and communities. Before joining the faculty of CUNY in 1971, Duberman taught history at Princeton and Yale. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard.


Ulric Haynes Jr. ’52 is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Central Florida and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council on Foreign Relations. During his time as the United States Ambassador to Algeria from 1977 to 1981, he helped to negotiate the release of hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Iran. Haynes has worked for the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council, focusing on various regions of Africa, as well as for SUNY College at Old Westbury as acting president and AFS Intercultural Programs as president. He has taught at institutions such as Harvard and Stanford and has served as dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business and executive dean of University International Relations at Hofstra University. His involvements in the business world have included a partnership at Spencer Stuart and Associates; presidency of Management Formation Inc.; vice presidencies at Cummins Engine Co. Inc.; and membership on the boards of HSBC Bank USA, American Broadcasting Companies and other corporations, as well as the board of the Council of American Ambassadors. Haynes holds a B.A. in political science from Amherst and a J.D. from Yale Law School and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.


David K. Lewis ’64 is currently the Margaret W. Kelly Professor of Chemistry at Connecticut College and has previously been that college’s dean of the faculty, provost and interim president. He also taught at Colgate University for 26 years. The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently honored Lewis with its 2012 National Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, in recognition of his decades of successful collaboration with, and encouragement of, undergraduate researchers in chemistry, including large numbers of women and minority students. His research interests include fast chemical reaction rates and mechanisms in shock tubes, computer modeling of prototype chemical reactions, ultra-high-resolution laser spectroscopy and atmospheric chemistry and physics. Lewis has produced more than 40 articles, most with undergraduate coauthors, for such publications as The Journal of Physical Chemistry and the Journal of the American Chemical Society and is a reviewer for these journals and several others. He is affiliated with Aerodyne Research Inc. and is a member of the ACS, the Council on Undergraduate Research and Sigma Xi. 


Currently president of the New York Public Library, Anthony W. Marx was the 18th president of Amherst College. During his term, from 2003 to 2011, he strived to achieve Amherst’s goal of becoming the most selective and diverse liberal arts college in the country, pushed to ensure access for the most talented students of any economic background, advocated for connecting the curriculum to research and internship/service experiences to inspire lifelong engagement and launched the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the college’s history. Before arriving at Amherst, from 1990 to 2003, he was professor and director of undergraduate studies of political science at Columbia University, where he led several partnerships between the university and the public school system. He was also a founder of Khanya College in South Africa. One of Marx’s three books, Making Race and Nation: A Comparison of the United States, South Africa and Brazil, won the American Political Science Association’s 1999 Ralph J. Bunche Award and the American Sociological Association’s 2000 Barrington Moore Prize. Marx, a 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, has a bachelor’s degree from Yale and an M.P.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton.


John McPhee is the author of 29 nonfiction books on a wide range of topics, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1965 and the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University since 1974. His titles include A Sense of Where You Are (1965), The Headmaster: Frank L. Boyden of Deerfield (1966), A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles (1969), The Curve of Binding Energy (1974), The Control of Nature (1989), Uncommon Carriers (2006) and Silk Parachute (2010). He won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, as well as a 1977 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the 2011 Wallace Stegner Award from the Center of the American West. McPhee holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and also attended Magdalene College of the University of Cambridge.


Since his days as a young opera fan and a creator of daring theatrical works at Amherst College and with Joe Papp at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Jim Steinman ’69 has sold more than 190 million records as a composer and lyricist behind such hit songs as “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” ”Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” “Dead Ringer for Love,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” “Holding Out For A Hero” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He is probably best known for writing the songs on the album Bat Out of Hell, which has sold more than 48 million copies, and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. Steinman also wrote the lyrics for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Whistle Down the Wind; composed the score for the musical Tanz der Vampire, which has run for 16 consecutive years in Europe; and contributed to the soundtrack of Footloose, among other movies. His works-in-progress include a stage musical version of Bat Out of Hell and a heavy-metal version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. In June 2012, Steinman will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

About Amherst College

Founded in 1821, Amherst College is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with approximately 1,700 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Considered one of the nation’s best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B. A. degree in 36 fields of study.