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Williams College Commencement
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., June 4, 2010 -- Author Jay McInerney '76 will be the principal speaker at Williams College's 221st Commencement Exercises on Sunday, June 6. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley '75 will be the Baccalaureate speaker the day before. McInerney and Coakley will receive honorary degrees at the Commencement as well as G. Wayne Clough, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Adam F. Falk, 17th president of Williams College; and Stephanie Wilson, astronaut.
2010 Honorary Degree Candidates
Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex with 19 museums, nine research centers, the National Zoo, and research activities in more than 90 countries. He became head of the Institution in 2008, following tenure as president of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Clough is a member of the National Science Board. Previously he served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2001-08) and as co-chair of the 2004 National Innovation Initiative and as member of the National Governors Association’s 2006-07 Innovation America Task Force. He served as vice chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and as chair of the Engineer of 2020 Project of the National Academy of Engineering. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
After working in civil litigation with Boston law firms Parker, Coulter, Daley & White and Goodwin Procter LLP, Coakley began her career in public service as assistant district attorney in the Lowell District Court Office. She was elected Middlesex District Attorney in 1998 and championed the causes of public safety and victim-centered child abuse prosecution. She was elected Massachusetts Attorney General in 2006 and has defended the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act and challenged the constitutional validity of the Defense of Marriage Act. She has also fought for greater funding for DNA analysis capabilities at the state police crime lab and changes in laws to streamline the approval process for stem cell research. In 2009 she won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. She graduated from Williams in 1975 before going on to receive a J.D. from the Boston University School of Law in 1979.
Adam F. Falk
Falk began his presidency of Williams College on April 1, 2010, after serving as dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. Falk joined the Johns Hopkins physics faculty in 1994, was promoted to associate professor after only three years and to full professor just three years after that. In 2002, he was appointed the Krieger School’s vice-dean of faculty, a title that was changed to dean of faculty in 2004. He became James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences on Feb. 1, 2006. He had served in the position on an interim basis since January 2005. Falk is a high-energy physicist whose research focuses on elementary particle physics and quantum field theory, particularly the interactions and decay of heavy quarks. He graduated with highest distinction as a Morehead-Cain Scholar from the University of North Carolina in 1987 and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1991, winning six awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching while a graduate student. He held post-doctoral appointments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the University of California, San Diego, before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty.
McInerney won immediate acclaim with his first novel, "Bright Lights, Big City," which garnered him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald and secured his place in the "literary brat pack," a group of iconic new writers that included Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz. Born in Hartford, Conn., McInerney attended Taconic Regional High School in Pittsfield, Mass. He graduated from Williams in 1976. At Williams, McInerney majored in philosophy, snippets of which appear in the pages of "Bright Lights, Big City." To date, he has written seven novels ("Bright Lights, Big City," "Ransom," "Story of My Life," "Brightness Falls," "The Last of the Savages," "Model Behavior," and "The Good Life"), one short story collection ("How It Ended"), two compilations of his essays on wine for House & Garden magazine, numerous short stories, and some screenplays. His path has included a stint in Japan on a Princeton in Asia fellowship, work as a fact checker for The New Yorker, and an M.A. in English (1984) from Syracuse University, where he studied under Raymond Carver.
A native of Pittsfield, Mass., NASA astronaut Wilson is the second African American woman to travel to space, assigned to Space Shuttle missions STS-121 in July 2006, STS-120 in October 2007, and STS-131 in April 2010. NASA selected her as an astronaut candidate in 1996. Initially, she was assigned to the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch and worked on space station payload displays and procedures. She later worked for Mission Control in the Astronaut Office CAPCOM Branch as a prime communicator with on-orbit crews. As part of her flight missions, Wilson has worked in the Astronaut Office Shuttle Operations Branch. Before selection by NASA in April 1996, Wilson worked for the former Martin Marietta Astronautics Group in Colorado and for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. She received her B.S. in engineering science from Harvard University and her M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas.
About the college
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college's 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students' educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions are made regardless of a student's financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.