Lafayette College will award honorary degrees to five leaders in education, literature, journalism and religion as part of the college’s 161st commencement exercises on May 19.
Honorees will include Delano Lewis, president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio, who will receive a doctor of humanities; author Jay Parini, professor of English at Middlebury College, doctor of letters; and Judith Rodin, president of the University of Pennsylvania, doctor of law.
Entertainer Bill Cosby will give the commencement address and receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will deliver the baccalaureate address and will receive the honorary degree of doctor of divinity.
Both ceremonies will be held outdoors on the Skillman Library Plaza, or in case of rain, the Allan P. Kirby Field House. Baccalaureate will be at 10:30 a.m. The commencement processional will begin at 2:15.
Cosby has used comedy as an educational tool to teach tolerance, family values and love of learning. He has won four Emmy awards and eight Grammy awards for his television programs and comedy albums, and has served as president of the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame since 1968.
Cosby earned a master’s degree and doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts and has applied his educational background to his other work.
A graduate of the University of Kansas, Lewis earned a law degree at the Washburn School of Law. He served as staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before joining the Peace Corps to work in Uganda and Nigeria. On his return, he served on congressional and senatorial staffs.
He was president and chief executive officer of the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. before assuming his post at NPR, where he is responsible for producing and distributing programming and providing service to more than 500 member stations.
Parini, a poet, novelist and biographer, is a 1970 graduate of Lafayette,. He began writing as an undergraduate and published “Singing in Time” in 1972, two years after graduation. His most recent work, “John Steinbeck: A Biography,” was published in 1995. His fifth novel, “Benjamin’s Crossing,” will be published next year, and he is writing a biography of Robert Frost.
Rodin became the seventh president of the University of Pennsylvania in 1994.
A research psychologist specializing in obesity and aging, Rodin is renowned for her work on the relationship between psychological and biological processes in health and behavior.
As director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Saperstein represents Reform Judaism on public policy issues facing Congress and the federal government. The senior Jewish lobbyist in Washington, Saperstein has held leadership positions in national coalitions dealing with issues as diverse as Israel, civil rights, the environment, abortion rights and nuclear disarmament.