Dickinson R. Debevoise
Class of 1946
return to the Bicentennial Medalists Panel Discussion
College President Morton Owen Schapiro read the citation below in presenting this Bicentennial Medal during Convocation on Sept. 6 in Chapin Hall.
When your troop ship sank off the coast of Normandy, there was no knowing where your life's path would lead, if anywhere. But you made it to Utah Beach, and from there to the Battle of the Bulge and the occupation of Berlin. Columbia Law School must have felt like a reprieve before Army service again, this time in Korea. Back home in New Jersey, that path led to further dangerous struggles when, as a young lawyer, you volunteered to defend Civil Rights workers in the volatile South, working alongside the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. This passion for justice has animated your almost thirty years as Judge for the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, fourteen of them as its senior member, where you are known for your innate sense of fairness combined with intelligence, courtesy, and modesty. At the same time, you have led numerous organizations devoted to improving the judicial system and enhancing professionalism in the law. These include the Newark Legal Services Project, the New Jersey Legal Services Advisory Council, and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. The award that recognizes outstanding pro bono work by New Jersey lawyers is named, appropriately, after you. As one colleague has said, "It's an honor and a privilege to work with one who so ennobles our human purpose."

In recognition of your distinguished achievement in the law, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.