CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Class of 2011 at Washington College will hear words of wisdom from a journalist and commentator who has been called “the world’s greatest sportswriter.” Frank Deford will receive an honorary degree and address the College’s 228th commencement ceremony Sunday morning, May 22, on the campus green. During the same ceremony, Dr. Tadataka Yamada, President of the Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will receive an honorary degree and deliver brief remarks.
The official procession that kicks off commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m.
A native of Baltimore and a graduate of Princeton, Frank Deford has authored 16 books and is Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated. He also is a regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and a senior correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
This diverse resume has gained Deford some of the most prestigious recognitions in his career fields. He has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters, selected by his peers six times as Sportswriter of The Year, and twice named Magazine Writer of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review. As a broadcaster, he has earned both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award.
Two of his books—the novel Everybody’s All-American and the nonfiction Alex: The Life of a Child—have been made into movies. The latter is Deford’s memoir about his young daughter’s death from cystic fibrosis. Deford served for 16 years as the national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Deford’s most recent book, the historical novel Bliss, Remembered, published last July, is the story of a young swimmer from the Eastern Shore who is swept up into the drama of the 1936 Olympics and a romance with a German man. Publishers Weekly called it “a poignant story, utterly charming and enjoyable.”
Dr. Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada, a scientist and scholar in gastroenterology, has been the President of the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2001. In that role, he oversees more than $9 billion in grants and leads the foundation’s efforts to develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world.
Before joining the foundation, Yamada spent more than 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry. His last position before joining the Gates Foundation was chairman of research and development at SmithKline Beecham. Earlier, he was chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and physician-in-chief at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He is a master of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science in the United States and the Academy of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom. A native of Japan, Yamada was educated in the United States, with a B.A. from Stanford, and medical degrees from New York University and UCLA.
As Washington College continues its celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, alumni James P. Bonsack ’53 and Kenneth M. Merz ’81 will receive Alumni Citations in recognition of their significant contributions to the field of chemistry.
James Bonsack, an industrial chemical engineer, holds 17 U.S. patents and 59 foreign patents relating to the manufacture of titanium dioxide products. After working for the J.T. Baker Chemical Company, he spent 32 years in the engineering department of Cristal Global Chemical in Baltimore, retiring as Senior Scientist. He also served for two years in the military, stationed at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. Bonsack’s wife, Rosemary Hatem, is a 1955 graduate of Washington College.
Kenneth Merz is a professor of chemistry and co-director of the Quantum Theory Project at the University of Florida. Throughout his career and research, he has received multiple honors, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has achieved international recognition with prestigious visiting professorships at institutions such as the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (Spain), École Polytechnique (France), and University of Florence (Italy).
The College will recognize outstanding 2011 graduates with the annual awarding of prizes, including the George Washington Prize, the Casey, Catlin and Clark-Porter Medals, and the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award. The Sophie Kerr Prize for literary ability and promise will be officially awarded, along with a check for more than $61,000, although for the first time in 44 years the winner’s name will not be a surprise. This year, the Sophie Kerr Committee will name up to five finalists and the winner will be announced May 17 at a special event at Poets House in New York City.
General seating will be available on the lawn. In case of rain, the event will move to the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center and admission will be by ticket only.