Commencement 2010

Time and Place:

6 p.m., Thursday, June 2, 2010, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Avenue & 65th Street).


Morris Dickstein, eminent cultural historian, Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center. “One of our best and most distinguished critics of American literature"—Norman Mailer.

Commencement address

Honorary Degrees:

Doctor of Musical Arts to Paquito D’Rivera, multi-instrumentalist, conductor, and composer, whose extraordinary career has influenced American music across Latin, jazz, and classical genres

Doctor of Humane Letters to Richard Sloan, renowned psychiatric researcher of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute

Student Speaker:

María Elena Torre, Ph.D. in Social-Personality Psychology


410 doctorates and 50 master’s degrees awarded

Morris Dickstein – Commencement Speaker

Morris Dickstein is a distinguished professor of English, theatre, and liberal studies at the Graduate Center and “one of the foremost cultural historians in the United States” (Forbes). He is author of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award–nominated Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression. Dickstein’s eclectic style of criticism—analyzing politics, history, and popular culture alongside literary works—has made him a versatile and sought-after commentator in the media on various topics in twentieth-century American culture. His other books include Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties; Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction, 1945–70; The Mirror in the Roadway: Literature in the Real World; and Double Agent: The Critic and Society. Formerly, Dickstein was editor of the Partisan Review and a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. He has published many essays and reviews in the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, the Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, and other periodicals. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.

Closing Remarks

President William P. Kelly

Citation for Paquito D’Rivera -- Doctor of Musical Arts

Paquito D’Rivera, you are widely celebrated as an innovative musician and composer. Moreover, you have been a generous mentor of young musicians and a champion of the rights and liberties of artists around the world. Born in Havana, you played with the National Theater Orchestra when you were just ten and became, at seventeen, featured soloist on the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony. A restless musical genius, you were, at the same time, a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna and codirector of the groundbreaking group Irakere, which garnered the 1979 Grammy for best Latin jazz ensemble. In 1981, you sought asylum in the United States and were welcomed with open arms by musicians on these shores. Since then, you have received universal acclaim as an instrumentalist and composer, with a discography of more than thirty albums ranging across a wide spectrum of musical idioms. In 1996 you won your first Grammy as a soloist for Portraits of Cuba; in 2003, you were the first artist to win that award in both the classical and Latin jazz categories. You are, indeed, a musician for all seasons and styles. Recognition of your compositional skills came with the awarding of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. You have been composer in residence at the Caramoor Center, where you created Conversations with Cachao, a concerto that paid tribute to Cuba’s legendary bass player Israel ‘Cachao’ López. And, as an author, you have given us My Sax Life and your novel Oh, La Havana. Organizations of artists and writers have showered you with honors, among them: the National Medal of the Arts, the Kennedy Center’s Living Jazz Legend Award, and the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences Annual Achievement Award. In 2009, the National Arts Club presented you with their Medal of Honor, and DownBeat magazine named you Clarinetist of the Year for the third time in a row. In gratitude for the joy you have brought to audiences throughout the world, for the extraordinary breadth and depth of your artistry, and for the gift of music with which you have enriched our world, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is pleased to present you with a Doctor of Musical Arts, honoris causa.

Citation for Richard P. Sloan -- Doctor of Humane Letters

You are a renowned teacher and researcher, a leader in your field, with a fierce commitment to scientific integrity and the courage to challenge widely and passionately held convictions. As the author of Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine, you have succeeded in debunking the notion—already taught in medical schools and fast becoming a standard consideration of health-care professionals—that religious practice promotes health and healing. By scrupulous analysis, you and your colleagues revealed the flawed science that has promoted this belief. You have raised serious ethical and practical issues created by the linking of medicine and religious practice—an association that benefits neither. You have pointed out how manipulating the religious sentiments of vulnerable patients is a gross abuse of the physician’s privileged position, and how subjecting religion to “biomedical scrutiny” is a disservice to religion itself. This you have done, not as one who denies the power of faith, for you recognize fully how faith can provide comfort if not cure. As Nathaniel Wharton Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and Chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, you have done groundbreaking work on the physiological consequences of psychological factors, unlocking secrets of the heart to show how risk factors such as depression, anxiety, or hostility contribute to and sustain heart disease. A native of Newark, New Jersey, you earned your B.S. from Union College and your M.A. and Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research. Since your college days in the turbulent ’60s, you have been committed to the pursuit of social justice through science and education. This you have done as teacher and mentor, by expanding the boundaries of psychological and biomedical research, and by raising trenchant issues of ethics and justice in medicine. In gratitude for a career characterized by the rigor of your research, your commitment to scientific integrity, and your compassion for society’s most vulnerable, it is our privilege to present you with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.