President Ron Liebowitz announced this year’s commencement speakers in an email to the Brandeis community on April 1. The email specified speakers for the Class of 2022 ceremony, as well the “[Re]Commencement” for the Classes of 2021 and 2020.
“Deval Patrick, H’17, the 71st governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will offer the Class of 2022 an address that promises to be both inspiring and uplifting,” wrote Liebowitz. Patrick served as governor from 2007 to 2015, is currently the co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, according to his bio. Patrick earned an honorary degree from Brandeis in 2017.
At the 2022 ceremony, David Harris P’05 and Christine Mann Darden will be recognized with honorary degrees, according to the email. Harris is the current leader of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), says his bio on Brandeis’ website. Harris strives to “assist Jews in danger worldwide, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, combat antisemitism, and defend democratic values against the radical right and the totalitarian left.” Darden is an aerospace engineer. Her bio on Brandeis’ website explains that she became a technical leader for NASA in the 1980s, where she continued getting promoted, until she retired in 2007 as director of strategic communications and education.
“I am also delighted to share that Marta Kauffman ’78, H’20, the visionary creator behind the iconic series ‘Friends’ will speak at [Re]Commencement,” read the email. “Kauffman will be recognized along with fellow 2020 honorary degree recipients, Jewish cultural scholar Ruth Calderon, artist Howardena Pindell, and philanthropist and humanitarian bridge-builder Alan Hassenfeld as part of our long-awaited celebration of the Classes of 2020 and 2021.”
Kauffman is a producer of both television and live theater. According to her Brandeis bio, she produced the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie,” as well as documentaries about Jewish subjects. Calderon is working to create a “‘Jewish renewal’ by encouraging and teaching Jews … to turn to Jewish texts like the Talmud and Torah, interpret them with their own understanding, and see them as rich sources of guidance on modern moral and social issues,” as explained in her bio. Pindell was the first African American coordinator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, according to her bio on the Brandeis website. She has since opened her own gallery as well as created her own art, including some that have been featured in Brandeis’ Rose Art Museum. Hassenfeld, his bio reads, was CEO of Hasbro for 35 years before his retirement in 2005. He is also co-chair of the board of advisors of Brandeis International Business School.
“Our Commencement exercises recognize the hard work, persistence, and dedication of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff,” said Liebowitz in a BrandeisNOW article. “The three classes we will honor on May 22 have earned their moment to celebrate, particularly in light of challenges they have faced. All three of these classes had their college or graduate school experiences remarkably altered by COVID-19. We at Brandeis are so pleased to restore our in-person celebration for these students and alumni.”