Emerson College will award four honorary degrees during the College’s 133rd Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 12, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., Boston. The ceremony will be streamed live at emerson.edu/stream.
Max Mutchnick ’87, an Emerson Trustee, Emmy Award winner and co-creator of the hit television show Will & Grace, will deliver the undergraduate address. Mutchnick wrote for the TV shows Partners, $#*! My Dad Says, Good Morning, Miami, and Boston Common, a show based on Mutchnick’s time at Emerson. He continues to work on projects with Will & Grace co-creator David Kohan. Mutchnick spoke to Emerson students last month about the pair’s recent sitcom Partners. In 2006, Mutchnick donated the apartment set of Will & Grace to Emerson, and it is now on display in the Iwasaki Library. Mutchnick is a frequent contributing blogger for The Huffington Post.
Debbie Allen, actress, choreographer, television director and producer, will deliver the graduate address. Allen is best known for her role as dance instructor Lydia Grant on the television show Fame. Her directing and producing credits for television include The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Quantum Leap, Everybody Hates Chris, and Grey’s Anatomy. She also produced the Oscar-nominated Steven Spielberg film Amistad. Her portrayal of Anita in the Tony Award-winning revival of West Side Story won her the coveted Drama Desk award as best Actress in a Musical. She has been Artist-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center for over 15 years developing major works, representing America as Cultural Ambassador for Dance. Allen devotes much of her time to arts education for young people around the world through the art of dance and theater arts. She is the founder of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles.
Rita Dove, a poet, author and playwright, is best known for being the youngest and first African-American appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States (1993 to 1995), acting as the country’s official poet to raise appreciation of reading and writing poetry. Dove has received numerous literary and academic honors, including the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the 2011 National Medal of the Arts, which was presented by President Obama. She has authored several books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed On the Bus with Rosa Parks and The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry. Dove has worked as a Professor of English at the University of Virginia since 1989.
Eugene M. Lang, a philanthropist who launched multiple manufacturing ventures for new and innovative technologies earlier in his career, established the Eugene M. Lang Foundation in 1963 and the well-known I Have A Dream Program in 1981, which provided guidance and support to thousands of disadvantaged children. In 2001, Lang established Project Pericles, a seminal facility to promote responsible citizenship as a curricular component of higher education. His philanthropies, primarily focused on education, have exceeded $150 million. Lang received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton and 29 honorary degrees from various universities. Lang has had service relationships with many institutions, including Swarthmore College, where he is Chairman Emeritus.
Mutchnick, Allen, Dove and Lang will each receive a Doctor of Humane Letters during the 133rd annual undergraduate ceremony, which will begin at 10:00 am, which for the first time will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Approximately 900 bachelor’s degrees will be conferred at the ceremony. More than 300 master’s degrees will be conferred during the graduate exercises, which start at 2:00 pm.
Located at 415 Summer St., Boston, in the Seaport District, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is accessible by the MBTA Silver Line’s World Trade Center station, Interstate 93 and Interstate 90/Ted Williams Tunnel, with parking options.