2000 Honorary Degree Citations

William J. C. Amend III '84
K. Frank Austen '50
H. Irving Grousbeck II '56
Sung-Joo Kim '81
Radhika Coomaraswamy
Franklin D. Raines
Wendy Wasserstein


William J. C. Amend III '84

Doctor of Humane Letters

In the universe of your daily comic strip, you have demonstrated that high intelligence, low-key humor and a wicked way with words need not be a hindrance to popular success. Now distributed to more than 1,000 newspapers all over the country by Universal Press Syndicate, your "FoxTrot" is among an elite group of only 16 other comics reaching so many papers.

Your six-days-a-week literary and artistic creation depicts the life of a very contemporary, slightly high-strung, sometimes cranky family whose 10-year-old son, Jason, you've described as "an outlet" for you. "FoxTrot" has benefited from what you have termed the "nerdification" of culture, allowing you unapologetically to write and draw strips about the modems and computers and other high-tech gadgets that baffle Jason's dad.

A 1984 graduate and a talented physics major, you launched your newspaper career here with regular editorial cartoons in the Amherst Student. Then, shrinking from post-graduate predictability, you spent the first couple of years after college living with your mom and dad, collecting rejection letters from comic strip syndicates. This bit of history is bound to offer consolation to unemployed graduating seniors and their worried parents. But clearly your Amherst experience left a deep impression. In your comic strip, Peter always wears an Amherst cap. And you have found ways to introduce both the names and personalities of your Amherst teachers into your work. Careful readers over the years will find, among others, the formerly bearded presence of physics professor Robert Romer, and mention of his American Journal of Physics. As a person of unflagging workplace discipline and a practitioner of one of America's most widely read literary forms, you are a living exemplar of the versatility and universal applicability of a fine liberal arts education.

K. Frank Austen '50

Doctor of Science

You are the sort of Amherst graduate we most seek to honor-brilliant and humane in your calling, unstinting in service to your alma mater. You graduated from Amherst in 1950, and have been making your mark from your base at the Harvard Medical School ever since, most recently as Theodore B. Bayles Professor of Medicine and chairman of the department of rheumatology and immunology at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Within the field of immunology, your research interests have focused on the molecular and cellular bases of allergic and autoimmune diseases, and your findings have brought not only changes in basic scientific thinking, but practical results—relief for suffering patients. As a young research physician, you were convinced that the interactions of the immune system were more complicated than was currently thought. You challenged the conventional wisdom, joining a new department of immunology at Harvard, now grown to comprise more than 100 scientists.

Your research into the biochemical factors underlying the inflammatory response has led to changes in treatment for such non-infectious "diseases of the self" as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. You received last year's Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for your work in treating asthma, a disease affecting some 17 million people in the U.S. alone. Many other past awards, fellowships and honors are too numerous to mention.

When a Harvard Medical School chair was established in your name - something rarely accorded an incumbent faculty member—you advised young faculty members to think of their research "in terms of decades, not fashions."

As an Amherst trustee for 18 years, you have brought your own awareness of faculty concerns to the college's instruction committee. You understand what faculty are trying to do, and you have seen that the power of great teachers is enhanced by the freedom to do their own work—and that this freedom is of the greatest benefit to students. Amherst honors you here for your vision, your loyalty, your achievements.

H. Irving Grousbeck II '56

Doctor of Humane Letters

A native of this valley and a member of Amherst's Class of 1956, you have put your name on the larger map both as an entrepreneur and a teacher of entrepreneurship. Your combined passion for education and business has brought you notable success in both fields. In 1965, together with Amos Hostetter, now chairman our Board of Trustees, you founded Continental Cablevision, which was to become the country's third largest cable television company. Two young Easterners, both in your late 20s, you headed out to the rural Midwest to sell people what they didn't yet know they wanted. "Who needs cable TV," they asked you, "when we already have two perfectly good stations?"

From a career as a business entrepreneur you moved to one of teaching business entrepreneurship, first at Harvard Business School, and for the past 15 years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where you are a star faculty member. In your office at Stanford, you keep your Amherst ties visible, with an Amherst chair and photos arrayed not far from your signed Ted Williams bat. Yourself an avid golfer, you have pursued your sports interests as far as a unsuccessful bid for the San Francisco Giants.

A cool, self-contained presence, always impeccable, you are a wonderful listener and a graciously attentive host with a long history of quiet philanthropy. You have been voted the most popular professor at the Stanford business school, maintaining long-term relationships with a number of students, sometimes investing in their enterprises and sitting on the boards of their companies. Your book, New Business Ventures and the Entrepreneur, now in its fifth edition, is a classic in its field. Your description of the attitudes needed to run your own show includes the following: a dissatisfaction with the status quo; a healthy self-confidence; a "responsible competence"; a concern for detail; and a tolerance for ambiguity. It is a self-description as well, one that has led you to the heights of both business and education. Your alma mater salutes you.

Sung-Joo Kim '81

Doctor of Humane Letters

In 1997, when the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, named you one of 100 world leaders of tomorrow, they knew what they were about. Your determination, dynamic personality and vision have helped you push aside heavy cultural barriers and find success in a world that has not always welcomed women. In spite of your father's strict, traditional ideas about the place of women in Korean society, you earned his praise during your senior year at Amherst: you helped to find a compromise in talks with an American company where his Daesung industrial group hoped to establish a joint venture. After graduating from Amherst in 1981 as a sociology major, you pursued your dream of running your own business by taking a degree at the London School of Economics, followed by a stint at the right hand of Bloomingdale's legendary CEO, Marvin Traub. In 1988 you returned to Korea to set up a one-woman department within your father's company, the Daesung Group. By 1991 the fashion division of Daesung had opened 24 stores, and the same year became a separate entity B Sung Joo International Limited.

Yourself a stylish and disciplined presence, you brought Western-style fashion retailing to your home country, with exclusive franchises for such couture labels as Gucci and Sonia Rykiel, as well as reliable old-line British retailers Marks & Spencer. Today you have 40 stores all over Korea, with many dozens of employees and annual sales of nearly $30 million. Buoyed up by a deep religious faith, you have weathered dark days as well as sunny ones. You showed that you could be flexible when economic trouble shook Korea in the late '90s. And you were involved and compassionate when catastrophic floods destroyed buildings that held your enterprises. Amherst is proud to honor your achievement as a woman, as a graduate, and as a fearless innovator in a highly traditional country.

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Doctor of Laws

With a rare combination of intellect, warmth, compassion, humor and the deepest of convictions, you have succeeded in bringing a commitment to human rights to your country of origin as well as to the rest of the world. Born Sri Lankan and always proud of your national identity, you came to the U.S. as a child when your father took a position at the United Nations.You continued your education here, completing a B.A. at Yale, a J.D. at Columbia and an L.L.M. at the Harvard Law School. In 1989, you were a Copeland Fellow at Amherst. Turning down a number of lucrative offers in the for-profit world, you returned instead to your native country to take up human rights work and to help found the International Center for Ethnic Studies, which you now direct.

In 1994, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights made you its first special rapporteur on violence against women, a position you still hold. In this role you have traveled throughout the world, documenting a range of crimes against women, from genital mutilation to prostitution to rape during war. You have written boldly and fearlessly on these issues, earning many important prizes, including the International Human Rights Award in 1997.

Often at the risk of your own safety, you have devoted yourself to seeking a peaceful end to the civil war in Sri Lanka, serving on key government bodies and citizen groups, writing a regular newspaper column and speaking publicly. In the midst of all this public activity you have sustained your scholarly work, publishing eight books, with another on the way.

A magnetic person with an electric smile, you have become the center of gravity for those who care about civil liberties, and it is in your living room where the often daunting gulf between official circles and activists is bridged. Amherst is pleased to honor your timely, vital work.

Franklin D. Raines

Doctor of Humane Letters

A classic American success story, you have reaped the benefits of high ideals, education and hard work to attain positions of power and influence as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and now as chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, the government-chartered corporation that assists lower-income home-buyers.

The first black American to head a Fortune 500 company, you have worked effectively in both the corporate and political worlds. As a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and a Rhodes Scholar, you had good preparation for the intellectual demands of your various jobs. As the son of a working-class Seattle family that struggled to make ends meet, you are uniquely fitted to understand the people you now serve. You can remember your family's years on welfare after your father was unable to work. And you can remember, too, the hard climb back up, as your father was once again able to earn a living and to build a house for your family with his own hands. This was a family that instilled in you the conviction that you really could do anything you put your mind to.

Described as "polished, poised and articulate," you have been mentioned as a possible Democratic vice-presidential choice. But your response to such urgings toward elective office has so far been cool.

You have lent your considerable energies to Washington, D.C.'s Black Student Fund Board, an organization that supports the educational needs of low-income youngsters. In an example of the breadth of your thinking about education, that fund also includes a crisis reserve that pays for such essentials as electric bills in a student's household.

As one of the architects of a balanced federal budget, you have kept a close eye on the bottom line of the budget at Fannie Mae. At the same time, you have helped initiate programs sensitive to the needs of under-served populations, including minorities, immigrants, seniors, and single working mothers. You are helping to ensure that the American dream—which you yourself so well exemplify—can be accessible to all.

Wendy Wasserstein

Doctor of Letters

A witty, astute, and sometimes acid chronicler of the social themes of the second half of the 20th century, you have already acquired most of the honors available to an American playwright, including the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Tony for Best Play. Your writings include The Heidi Chronicles, which won you the Pulitzer; The Sisters Rosensweig, and Uncommon Women and Others. You have written a musical, several screenplays, a collection of essays and a children's book. A few months ago, in The New Yorker, you described the experience of giving birth to your first child as a single mother.

Unflinchingly, but always with affectionate humor, you have dramatized the preoccupations and perplexities of strong women who have made tough choices—in their work, in their relationships, in their public lives. "The real reason for comedy," you have said, "is to hide the pain." Your plays, which have found not only critical acclaim but the applause of countless real audiences, deal with the foibles and triumphs of feminism, of the family, of the American presidency.

A 1971 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, you have espoused the cause of women's education both in your writing and as honorary co-chair of the college's latest fundraising campaign. Speaking fondly of a playwriting class you took as an undergraduate, you have said it was the first time you realized you could "get credit in life for something you liked to do."

Today's Commencement can be seen as a partial homecoming, since you were among a group of 23 resident women students here in the fall of 1969, the first to live in Amherst's dormitories. Perhaps the words of one of your characters, Heidi Holland, hint at your reasons for coming to Amherst that year: "Actually," says Heidi, "I was wondering what mothers teach their sons that they never bother to tell their daughters."

Full coeducation would not arrive at Amherst until 1976, but you were one of the courageous forerunners, or, as the president rather unceremoniously said at the time, an example of "the camel getting its nose under the tent." Today our tent is wide open, and we are proud that you've come back to it to accept this degree.