Conversations with Honored Guests

Seniors, their families and friends are cordially invited to hear brief presentations by several of the distinguished people who will receive honorary degrees from Amherst College at Sunday's Commencement ceremony. All presentations will take place on Saturday, May 25, at 3:30 p.m. in the locations indicated. There will be discussion after the presentations if time allows.

Merrill IV

Novelist Anita Desai will speak on the topic "The Invisible Writer." The award-winning author of In Custody and many other novels and short stories, Desai has a fictional range that encompasses Indian, American and European cultures. A professor of writing at M.I.T., she tells students that the writer's best preparation is to learn by reading other authors.

She will be introduced by Prof. Uday Mehta of the Political Science Department.

Merrill III

John W. Dower '59 will speak on the topic "Rethinking East and West." A specialist in modern Japanese history, Dower is the author of many books including, most recently, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, which won both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He is the Elting E. Morison Professor of History at M.I.T.

He will be introduced by Prof. Wako Tawa of the Asian Languages and Civilizations Department.

Cole Assembly Room (Converse)

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. will speak on "The Current Reparation Debate." Ogletree, a legal theorist also active in civil rights, is Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He served as legal counsel to Prof. Anita Hill in 1991 during the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, is a public television commentator, prolific writer, and co-author of a book, Beyond the Rodney King Story: An Investigation of Police Conduct in Minority Communities.

He will be introduced by Prof. Jeffrey B. Ferguson of the Black Studies and American Studies Departments.

Merrill I

Georgios Papandreou '75, Greece's Minister of Foreign Affairs, will talk about international relations. A leader of his country's Panhellenic Socialist Movement and member of the Greek Parliament since 1981, Papandreou has held a series of earlier governmental posts including Minister of Culture, and Minister of Education and Religious Affairs.

He will be introduced by Prof. Rebecca H. Sinos of the Classics Department.

Merrill II

Dennis B. Ross will speak from his experience as a former ambassador and authority on Middle East conflicts and prospects for peace. He served as special Middle East Coordinator for the Clinton administration, helped achieve the 1995 Interim Agreement, and brokered the Hebron Accord in 1997. He is now distinguished fellow and counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

He will be introduced by Prof. N. Gordon Levin of the History and American Studies Departments.

Stirn Auditorium

Filmmaker David O. Russell '81E will speak on the topic "The Ongoing Meditation that Began at Amherst with Robert Thurman in 1978." He has won acclaim for writing and directing three recent films, Spanking the Monkey (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), and Three Kings (1999).

He will be introduced by Helen von Schmidt, Senior Lecturer in the English Department.

Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather)

Writer and literary critic Philip Edward Simmons '80 will speak on the topic "Learning to Fall: A Primer for Grownups and Everyone Else." The title refers to his most recent book, Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, in which Simmons discusses the challenge of living with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, formerly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).

He will be introduced by Prof. Robert C. Townsend of the English Department.

Public Affairs Office,
May 24, 11:30 a.m.