Kenneth H. Bacon '66
Doctor of Humane Letters
As Pentagon spokesman, your believable, bow-tied presence on television day after
day brought us the official news from wartime Kosovo. Despite the uncertainties
of mounting a joint military effort in the face of "ethnic cleansing,"
you never flinched from the barrage of reporters' tough questions, rarely resorted
to bureaucratic evasions, but made occasional, pointed use of what one colleague
describes as your almost impish humor. Your work as Assistant Secretary of Public
Affairs lent a lucid, complex voice to the military establishment.
As a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, you never lost your
commitment to the First Amendment. On a visit to a Russian nuclear submarine base,
you stood outside the reporters' bus arguing and gesticulating until the reluctant
Russians allowed the working press inside.
Your Pentagon work drew on your wide experience covering international news of
defense, banking, finance and economics. In your ability to absorb and sort huge
quantities of detail, you drew likewise on your education as an English major
in Amherst's class of 1966, and on your Columbia graduate degrees in journalism
and business. In the midst of a busy career you have served your College ably
and generously as an Alumni Trustee and as a Trustee of the Folger Shakespeare
Upon leaving the Pentagon, rather than using your contacts and
experience for personal gain, you have chosen to help alleviate the human suffering
you witnessed first-hand. As the new president and CEO of Refugees International,
you are "giving back" to the people whose plight you often saw in your
military travelsthe desperate victims of war, famine, and other disasters.
Your alma mater salutes you for your record of exemplary public service, for your
commitment to speaking the truth, and for your new role as a compelling voice
for the voiceless.