GC and CUNY Announces Two Honorary Degree Recipients and Commencement Speaker

Media contact: Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283

The Graduate Center, CUNY Announces Two Honorary Degree Recipients and Commencement Speaker

NEW YORK, May 23, 2018 – The Graduate Center of The City University of New York will award honorary degrees to Neal Kumar Katyal, former acting solicitor general of the U.S., and Katharine Viner, the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media, and recognize Patricia Chapple Wright (Ph.D. ’85, Anthropology) with its President’s Distinguished Alumni Medal at its fifty-fourth Commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
Graduate Center Distinguished Professor André Aciman, New York Times best-selling author of Call Me by Your Name and other works, will give the Commencement address.
Neal Kumar Katyal, the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of law at Georgetown University, partner at the firm of Hogan Lovells, and former acting solicitor general of the United States, has argued more Supreme Court cases in United States history than any other minority attorney, breaking the record held by Thurgood Marshall. As acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama, Katyal successfully defended the constitutionality of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Most recently, in the Supreme Court on April 25, Katyal argued the “Travel ban” case on behalf of the State of Hawaii against President Donald Trump, earning Katyal a headline in Politico as “The Travel Ban’s Legal Nemesis.” A graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School, Katyal was one of the youngest professors to receive tenure and a chaired professorship at Georgetown University Law Center.
Katharine Viner took the reins of The Guardian and The Observer in 2015 when the business model for modern newspapers was failing. She has effectively navigated the challenges of running a news organization in the digital age with innovative business models and a passionate respect for reporting that, as she says, “takes time and effort, carefully uncovers the facts, holds the powerful to account, and interrogates ideas and arguments—work that speaks to the urgency of the moment, but lasts for more than a day.” She is considered one of the most eloquent and thoughtful analysts of journalism today. As advertising revenue has fallen for newspapers generally, The Guardian has chosen to keep its website open to all readers. Viner’s speeches and extended reflections on the press have highlighted the importance of journalism to the functioning of democracy.
Patricia Chapple Wright (Ph.D. ’85, Anthropology) has been honored as a MacArthur Fellow and is the recipient of many awards, including the Chevalier d’Ordre National of Madagascar and the Indianapolis Prize for conservation. She is a distinguished professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University. Wright took on conservation issues more than 30 years ago in Madagascar when she and her colleagues discovered the golden bamboo lemur and re-discovered the greater bamboo lemur, a species thought to be extinct. The lemurs lived in one of the country’s last remaining intact rain forests, a habitat that was threatened by timber exploitation. She spearheaded an integrated conservation and development project that ultimately led to the 1991 inauguration of the Ranomafana National Park. Her work has been featured in several documentaries and in the 2014 IMAX film Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, narrated by Morgan Freeman. She is the author of more than 170 scientific papers and of a two-volume autobiography.
André Aciman is a distinguished professor of comparative literature and French at The Graduate Center and a noted novelist and essayist. The first of his four novels, Call Me by Your Name, garnered widespread praise and inspired the film by the same name, which won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. While a professor at Princeton, Aciman published his acclaimed memoir, Out of Egypt, for which he received the 1995 Whiting Award. He is the author of three more novels and a number of essay collections. He has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books, and his work has appeared in several volumes of Best American Essays. His teaching at The Graduate Center, which started in 2001, focuses on the work of Marcel Proust and the literature of memory and exile.
The Graduate Center will confer 547 master’s and doctoral degrees at its Commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.

For media inquiries, please contact Tanya Domi, tdomi@gc.cuny.edu, 212-817-7283.

About The Graduate Center
The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the world’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.


Submitted on: MAY 23, 2018

Category: Press Room