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Grad speaker chosen

CBS Sunday Morning commentator Nancy Giles has been chosen to speak at this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 19. Giles will be receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters alongside two Grinnell alumni honorary degree recipients. Respected literary agent Sterling Lord ’42 and educator and activist Dorje Gurung ’94 will be awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters and an honorary doctor of sciences, respectively.

Nancy Giles has been a morning commentator for the Peabody Award-winning CBS program since 2003, bringing a humorous but provocative twist to political and social issues. In her work with radio, Giles co-hosted Giles and Moriarty with CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty, a show which won the American Women in Radio and Television Award for Best Radio Talk Show for two consecutive years. Giles is also an acclaimed actress, having starred in the ensemble cast of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning series “China Beach.”

The honorary degree recipients are chosen by an Honorary Degree committee, made up of three faculty members from the Executive Council, a faculty leadership group.

“The honorary degrees are more of a faculty-led process,” Bly said.

After looking through the nominations that faculty and students recommend, the committee typically awards one of three types of degrees to recipients: honorary doctor of humane letters degree, honorary doctor of science degree and honorary doctor of law degree. The committee has a requirement to award  degree at least half the honorary degrees to be given to alumni.

Lord is a notable literary agent who has brought forth many important book deals in the publishing world, most famously Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Lord has represented authors including Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Stan and Jan Berenstain, whose “Berenstain Bears” books have sold 290 million copies in the U.S. and Canada.

Gurung is a Tibetan-Buddhist science teacher and activist, famously imprisoned in Qatar last year on charges of insulting Islam. Thanks to the efforts of Grinnell alumni and friends, Gurung was released back to Nepal. He now serves as education program director for the non-profit organization Community Members Interested, an organization committed to ensuring free quality education to children in communities in rural Nepal.

“They’re doing what they’re doing out of passion. They are absolutely committed, each to very different things, but no less passionate to what they’re doing,” Bly said.

This year’s Commencement Ceremony will be the second year that the College awards an honorary degree to a K-12 educator. The committee opened up nominations to the entire student body earlier in the semester to nominate an educator that made a large impact in the field of education. The selected recipient and the type of honorary degree the recipient will be receiving will be finalized later this month.

Grinnell College’s Commencement exercises will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 19, on Central Campus.

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