Chestertown, MD, April 26, 2002 — Connie Morella (R-Md.) will be the keynote speaker at Washington College's 220th Commencement on Sunday, May 19, 2002. Congresswoman Morella will receive an Honorary Doctor of Public Service in recognition of her accomplishments in the public sector, and actor Larry Hagman, of Dallas fame, will be made an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. Commencement begins at 10:30 a.m. on the campus lawn.
This Commencement will also see the awarding of the largest undergraduate literary prize in the nation—the Sophie Kerr Prize. A talented graduating senior will receive a check for $65,552 this year, the highest amount given in the 35-year history of the prize.
Congresswoman Morella represents Maryland's Eighth District and is currently serving her eighth consecutive term in the House of Representatives. Since first taking office in 1987, she has focused her legislative efforts on such issues as scientific research and development, education, the federal workforce, equity for women, the rights and needs of older Americans, international human rights and the environment. She chairs the Government Reform Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, has been a longstanding member of the Civil Service Subcommittee, and has been a long-term member of the House Science Committee, currently serving as a member of the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards. She has been a national leader in enhancing computer security, in promoting the use of telemedicine and educational technology, and in forming national recommendations to address the underrepresentation of women, minorities and persons with disabilities in the science and technology workforce.
Congresswoman Morella is the former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and is recognized nationally for her work on children's rights, domestic violence and women's health, educational and economic equity issues. Last year, her legislation to expand the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law, and she has established herself as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in women with legislation focusing on research and prevention. Because of her work improving the lives of women, Congresswoman Morella was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, and Glamour magazine honored her as a "Woman of the Year." Active in international and human rights issues, Congresswoman Morella was the first woman to chair the Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus. She also represented the United States at the U.N. Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and co-chaired the congressional delegation to the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
Before her election to Congress, Congresswoman Morella served for eight years in the Maryland House of Delegates. From 1970 to 1985, she was a professor in the English Department of Montgomery College in Rockville, MD. A resident of Montgomery County for 44 years, she lives in Bethesda with her husband, Tony, a law professor. Together they have raised nine children, including her late sister's six children.
From bumbling astronaut to ruthless Texas tycoon, Larry Hagman's acting career has been long and diverse. Hagman began his career on the stage following in the footsteps of his mother, the actress Mary Martin, with whom he appeared as a member of the chorus in the London production of "South Pacific." While in England, he joined the U.S. Air Force and married his wife Maj Axelsson in 1954. After completing military service, Hagman returned to New York to act is series of Broadway and off-Broadway plays and then moved to Hollywood to pursue television. Hagman's first big TV break came with "I Dream of Jeannie," which ran for five years. But it was not until 1977 with "Dallas" that Hagman's career took off, as he became America's most popular love-to-hate character—J. R. Ewing. The series ran for 13 series and the famous "Who Shot J.R.?" episode became the second highest rated TV show in history.
Off-screen, Hagman has contributed much of his time to the anti-smoking campaign of the American Cancer Society and has campaigned for the increased use of clean solar energy, particularly in developing nations and communities. His recent acting work has included Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (1995) and the film "Primary Colors" (1998). In 1997, Hagman visited Washington College to present the first annual Mary Martin Drama Scholarship, named in honor of his late mother and established by graduate Matthew Weir '90, grandson of the acclaimed actress.