GC Commencement: Honorary Degree Recipients & Alumni Medal Winner

Honorary Degree Recipients and Distinguished Alumni Medal Winner: 
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters: Eugene Goodheart. Eugene Goodheart is a prolific scholar, an acclaimed personal essayist, and a public intellectual. His teaching and commentary have contributed to the thinking of students and the thoughtful public alike for the last half-century. While Brandeis University was his academic home from 1983 until his retirement in 2006, Professor Goodheart also taught at Bard College, the University of Chicago, MIT, and the Baruch Business School (now Zicklin School of Business), while doing graduate work at Columbia. Professor Goodheart earned his BA from Columbia College, his master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and his Ph.D. from Columbia University, where he worked with Lionel Trilling and Jacques Barzun. He has written extensively for both academic and general audiences, both in periodicals and in over a dozen books, including The Failure of Criticism (1978), a work of literary criticism, and his most recent book, Mostly Grave Thoughts: On Mortality and Other Matters (2013), a collection of essays. Professor Goodheart’s scholarship has been recognized with fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Fulbright Program.
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters: Leonard A. Lauder. As a businessman, philanthropist, and patron of art, Leonard Lauder’s contribution to American society has been profound. While building the cosmetics business founded by his mother, in 1958, into a global empire, he has also generously support research in medicine, education, and science, and enriched New York’s cultural life. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, he is a trustee there and cofounder of its Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies. He is also a trustee and chairman emeritus of the Aspen Institute, the educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Mr. Lauder created renowned private art collections, much of which he has now donated to museums. A lifelong New Yorker, Mr. Lauder was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served on the Council on Foreign Relations. With the Lauder family, he was the recipient of the 2011 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of their longstanding commitment to philanthropy and public service.
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters: Ján T. Vilček. Ján Vilček is a biomedical scientist, educator, inventor, and philanthropist. He is a professor of microbiology at New York University’s School of Medicine. He is also president of the Vilcek Foundation, which he founded in 2000 with his wife, Marica. A native of Slovakia, part of the former Czechoslovakia, Dr. Vilček received his medical training and Ph.D. there before immigrating to the United States in 1965 and settling in New York City. Dr. Vilček has devoted his research to regulators of the immune system, specifically interferon. Dr. Vilček’s research led to the development of a potent anti-inflammatory agent, which in turn created a drug widely used in the treatment of various inflammatory autoimmune diseases. Through the Vilcek Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Vilček celebrate and support the contribution of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. The foundation awards prizes to foreign-born individuals now living permanently in the United States, provides gallery space for immigrant artists and performers, and sponsors special events. In addition, the foundation honors those who have demonstrated early achievement in biomedical science and a selected art field.
President’s Distinguished Alumni Medal: Carol J. Oja, Ph.D. (Music, 1985). Dr. Oja is a leading musicologist, specializing in American composers of the twentieth century. She earned her Ph.D. in 1985 and taught both in the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Music and at Brooklyn College’s Conservatory of Music. Dr. Oja is currently the William Powell Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University. Beginning in July, she will serve as chair of Harvard’s Department of Music. In 2013, Professor Oja served on the Pulitzer Prize committee for music. That year, she also became the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence with the New York Philharmonic. Her writing and lectures have deepened our understanding of Bernstein, to be further enhanced with the publication, in August 2014, of Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War (Oxford University Press). In addition to numerous articles and scholarly writing, Professor Oja is the author of Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds (1990), which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Book Award in 1991. In 2000, she published Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s, which won both the Lowens Book Award from the Society of American Music and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Book Award.

Submitted on: MAY 7, 2014

Category: General GC News