Pulitzer Prize Winner and Nobel Prize Winner Highlight Honorary Degree Recipients at Muhlenberg

News Image Isabel A. Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns, will speak at Muhlenberg College’s 165th Commencement on May 19, 2013 at 10 a.m.

 Thursday, May 2, 2013 10:35 AM

The ceremony will be held on the historic college green.  Wilkerson will also be awarded an honorary doctorate.  Other individuals receiving honorary degrees will be Richard Brueckner ’71, Ira Flatow, Christian F. Martin IV, Christopher Sims and Patricia Wells.

Isabel A. Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns, a national and New York Times best-seller, tells the epic story of the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. She has devoted her life’s work to the nonfiction of empathy, exploring the universal themes of social justice and common humanity through the lives of ordinary people with stories that both teach and touch the hearts of her readers.
 The Warmth of Other Suns won numerous honors, including the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, the 2011 Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2012 Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, the 2011 Hillman Book Prize, the 2011 Independent Literary Award, the 2011 New England Book Award, the 2011 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut and was a finalist for the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. 

The book was named to more than 30 Best of the Year lists, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. In 2011, it made news around the world when the White House announced that President Barack Obama chose The Warmth of Other Suns for summer reading, along with "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese and "To the End of the Land" by David Grossman. It has been adopted as a Common Read at such institutions as the University of California at Davis, the University of Northern Iowa, Howard University, Whitman College, and in the cities of St. Louis, Winston-Salem and Chicago, where it is the 2013-14 “One Book Read.”  
Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994 for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism. Wilkerson also won a George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. 
She has appeared on national programs such as Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Charlie Rose Show, The PBS News Hour," CBS’s 60 Minutes, NBC’s Nightly News, on MSNBC and the BBC, and has lectured at universities throughout the country and in Europe on the theme of migration, identity and 20th Century history. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Kreeger-Wolf Endowed Lecturer at Northwestern University, as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, the James M. Cox Jr. Professor at Emory University and as Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. She has received honorary degrees from DePaul University, Hamline University, Niagara University and Howard University.

Richard Brueckner ’71 is Chief of Staff of BNY Mellon. He is responsible for the company’s corporate affairs and marketing activities. In addition, the internal audit function reports to him administratively. He is also a member of the company’s Executive Committee, the organization’s most senior management body, which oversees day-to-day operations. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE:BK).

Brueckner has served as a Governor on the Board for FINRA and its predecessor, the NASD®, the primary regulator for firms in the securities industry in the United States. In this capacity he has served as Lead Independent Governor, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and a member of the Executive Committee and the Governance Committee. He has previously served as Chairman of the NASD’s National Adjudicatory Council and as Chairman of the NASD’s New York District Committee.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets
Association (SIFMA) and as the SIFMA’s Co-Treasurer and Co-Chair of the Audit & Finance Committee. He is a Trustee and Chairman of the Board of the SIFMA’s Foundation for Investor Education. He has been active in SIFMA, serving as the founding Chairman of the Clearing Firms Committee, Chairman of the Membership Committee and Chairman of the New York District.  He has also served on the Board of Archipelago LLC and as a Trustee for the Frontier Trust Company in Fargo, North Dakota and the United Way of Hudson County, New Jersey. 

He has been a member of the Muhlenberg College Board of Trustees since 1999 and its Chair since 2005.  He presided over a period of impressive growth and progress at Muhlenberg, including construction of new residence halls, a new science building, additions to the student union, the addition of the Brueckner Wing of the College’s Life Sports Center and the completion of a $110 million campaign.

Ira Flatow is the host of “Science Friday®” on NPR. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners world wide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space and the environment. “Science Friday” is heard by two million people each week, on the radio and podcasts, and via iTunes and Android apps. Ira is president of ScienceFriday, Inc. and founder and president of Science Friday Initiative,  a 501 (c)(3) non-profit company dedicated to creating audio, video and Internet projects that make science a topic of discussion around the dinner table, Twitter or Facebook.

Ira has shared his enthusiasm with public radio and TV fans for more than 35 years. He recently co-starred on the CBS hit series “The Big Bang Theory.”

His most recent book is entitled Present At The Future.

His numerous TV credits include six years as host and writer for the Emmy-award-winning “Newton's Apple” on PBS and science reporter for “CBS This Morning.”  He wrote, produced and hosted “Transistorized!,” an hour-long PBS documentary. He is also host of the four-part PBS series “Big Ideas.”  A winner of numerous awards, his most recent the Isaac Asimov Award.

Christian Frederick Martin, IV is the Chairman and CEO of the world-renowned C. F. Martin & Co. and the 6th generation of Martin family members to run the business. Martin acoustic guitars are prized worldwide for their exceptional tone, design, craftsmanship and attention to detail. Under his direction, the company has maintained its integrity and industry wide respect while growing and prospering to unprecedented manufacturing and sales levels. 

Martin has re-established its reputation worldwide as the builder of the highest quality guitars.  Eric Clapton and Paul Simon are among the artists who have chosen to be involved in designing new limited edition guitars, and Martin once again makes more acoustic guitars than any other company in the U. S.   The process is difficult and time consuming, but it’s also rewarding.  Interestingly, some of the biggest competition for Martin comes from used Martin guitars which are sought after by both performers and collectors.
The Martin Guitar Company, whose world headquarters are in Nazareth, Pa., is thriving under Chris’ direction. His team-oriented management style is friendly and personal, yet firm and direct.  He travels extensively in order to stay abreast of market trends and to hold instructional clinics at Martin dealerships around the world. 

Martin is also recognized as one of the leading philanthropists in the Lehigh Valley.

Christopher Albert "Chris" Sims is an econometrician and macroeconomist. He is currently the Harold B. Helms Professor of Economics and Banking at Princeton University. Sims earned his Ph.D. in Economics in 1968 at Harvard University. He held teaching positions at Harvard, University of Minnesota, Yale University and, since 1999, Princeton. Sims is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (since 1989) and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 1988). In 1995 he was the president of the Econometric Society. Sims published numerous important papers in his areas of research: econometrics and macroeconomic theory and policy. Among other things, he was one of the main promoters of the use of Vector autoregression in empirical macroeconomics. He has also helped develop the fiscal theory of the price level.

On October 10, 2011, Christopher A. Sims together with Thomas J. Sargent was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The award cited their "empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy". His Nobel lecture, titled "Statistical Modeling of Monetary Policy and its Effects" was delivered on December 8, 2011.

Translating his work into everyday language, Sims said it provided a technique to assess the direction of causality in central bank monetary policy. It confirmed the theories of monetarists like Milton Friedman that shifts in the money supply affect inflation. However, it also showed that causality went both ways. Variables like interest rates and inflation also led to changes in the money supply.

Patricia Wells – journalist, author, and cooking teacher – is an American who has lived in Paris since 1980. She is the author of 11 books, including Vegetable Harvest, We've Always Had Paris...and ProvenceBistro Cooking, Simply French and Trattoria. Her first book, The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, was a landmark work that "cracked the code" to the Paris food world. She is the only woman and only foreigner to serve as restaurant critic of a major French publication, the newsweekly L’Express.  From 1980 to 2007 she served as restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune. Previously, she was a writer and editor for The Washington Post and The New York Times.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her contributions to French culture, and received an honorary degree in gastronomic journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.   Several of her books have received the James Beard and IACP awards, and most of them have been translated into several languages. Throughout the year, she conducts week-long cooking classes both in her cooking studio in Paris and at her farmhouse in Provence. She is married to Walter Wells, retired executive editor of the International Herald Tribune and now her enthusiastic sous-chef.