The Nominees Are… Up to You! Send in Your Suggestions for Commencement Honorees

John Dewey

If someone asked you what Isamu Noguchi, Thurgood Marshall, Betty Carter, and George Balanchine had in common, you could be forgiven for lumping them with defining artistic movements of the 20th century.

But you’d be only half right.

Boldfaced names like these, together with Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin, all share the distinction of holding an honorary doctorate awarded by The New School community.

This illustrious tradition, which began in 1948 with the conferral of a Doctor of Humane Letters to founder John Dewey, will continue at the 2013 commencement on May 24.

Because the university steadily evolved since then, selection criteria have become increasingly interdisciplinary.  “We are looking for individuals who capture the spirit of The New School today – people who are relentlessly creative, who work and create across fields of different fields of knowledge, artistic, professional, and social expertise,” said President David E. Van Zandt.

2012 honoree Robert Hammond is a perfect embodiment of these values. While neither landscape architect nor urban planner nor nonprofit manager nor historian, Hammond challenged and inspired each of these disciplines when he co-created the High Line, one of New York’s most popular promenades. A true visionary, Hammond reflected The New School’s highest values by reaching across disciplines to create and sustain a distinctive urban space.

Students, faculty, and administrators are invited to nominate celebrated individuals for these laurels by sending an email to, no later than Friday, November 16, 2012.   Each nomination should include a biographical profile of the candidate along with a brief rationale explaining how the individual’s contributions reflect The New School.  A selection committee composed of students, faculty, trustees, and administrators will review nominations and present a list of candidates to the Board of Trustees for approval.  This year’s honorees will be announced in the Spring semester.