Columnist to deliver URI’s 122nd Commencement address

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Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, 5 others to receive honorary degrees

KINGSTON, R.I.–April 14, 2008–Clarence Page, winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, will deliver the University of Rhode Island’s 122nd commencement address during the University’s undergraduate ceremonies Sunday, May 18. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Page has been a columnist and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board since July, 1984. His column, which appears Sundays and Wednesdays on the Tribune’s op-ed page, is syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services in nearly 200 newspapers. Since 1991, he has been based in Washington, D.C.

Page is a regular contributor of essays to “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and “News and Notes with Ed Gordon” on National Public Radio. He has hosted several documentaries on the Public Broadcasting System. He is also a regular panelist on national programs including ABC’s This Week and Black Entertainment Television’s weekly “Lead Story” news panel program.

In 1972, he participated in a Chicago Tribune Taskforce series on voter fraud, which won the Pulitzer, followed by the Edward Scott Beck Award for overseas reporting on the changing politics of Southern Africa in 1976. His investigative series, “The Black Tax,” was awarded the 1980 Illinois UPI Award for Community Service. In 1987, he won the American Civil Liberties Union James P. McGuire Award for columns on constitutional rights.

Page received a lifetime achievement award in 2004 from the National Association of Black Journalists and was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 1992.

URI will confer honorary degrees to five other recipients during undergraduate ceremonies. The recipients are:

• Architect William D. Warner of Exeter who helped transform the tired old city of Providence into an inviting and inclusive architectural marvel. It was Warner who proposed uncovering the concrete-covered river system to resurrect Providence’s waterfront. Warner’s stunning I-Way Bridge, which spans the Providence River, connecting Providence and East Providence, continues the transformation. His work defines URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett. The shingled Coastal Institute on Narragansett Bay, for example, is classic coastal New England. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.

• Ambassador Christopher Hill was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 2005, and was named head of the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks on negotiations with North Korea concerning its nuclear arms program. Prior to that post, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, and Special Envoy to Kosovo. He also served as special assistant to the President and senior director for Southeast European Affairs in the National Security Council. The son of a U.S. diplomat, he was raised in many countries of the world. Yet he considers himself a Rhode Islander. He attended Moses Brown School in Providence and earned a master’s degree from the Naval War College in Newport. His family maintains a home in Little Compton. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Read a recent Providence Journal article about Ambassador Hill. He’s the voice of America in talks with North Korea

• Michael Fascitelli grew up in North Providence, the son of a tailor and a seamstress. He was the first in his Italian-American family to attend college. He earned a degree in industrial engineering summa cum laude from URI and graduated from Harvard Business School in 1982 with highest distinction. He joined McKinsey & Co., a New York City management-consulting firm, and was a partner at Goldman Sachs before joining Vornado Realty Trust as president in 1996. Today, the company owns and manages more than 60 million square feet of office space nationwide, most notably in New York City and Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Beth, are generous donors to the University, most recently supporting the Student Wellness Center with a $1 million gift. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Growing up in Pawtucket, the fourth of eight children, Douglas Durand of Tarpon Springs, Fla. never aspired to be a corporate whistleblower or a multimillionaire, but his family’s values of hard work and honesty led him there. Durand commuted to Kingston during his five-year pharmacy program and worked 40 to 50 hours a week primarily at Pawtucket Avenue Pharmacy. After graduating from URI in 1974, he became a sales representative for the drug giant Merck & Co. and quickly climbed the ladder of success. In 1995, tired of traveling and relocating, he became a vice president at TAP Pharmaceuticals Products Inc. He helped the Chicago-area company push a prostate drug called Lupron. Within a year, he discovered a culture of bribes and kickbacks. He left TAP early in 1996 and filed a suit against his former employer that spring. The lawsuit prompted a five-year investigation by federal prosecutors and forced TAP to pay an $875 million fine in 2001 for fraudulent drug pricing and marketing conduct. Durand received $77 million of that fine as a whistleblower from the government. Durand will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

• Agnes Doody is known affectionately as “Hurricane Agnes” for her rhetorical skills and her ability to effect change. She joined URI in 1958 as director of Forensics, Department of Speech and Theatre. She founded and chaired the Department of Speech in 1967. Renamed the Department of Communication Studies, today the department enrolls one of the largest number of undergraduate majors at the University. Doody won several awards for her teaching, including the URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award in 1980. She served as chair of the Faculty Senate and when President Nixon called student protesters “bums” in 1970, she convinced the Senate to take out a full-page ad in The Providence Journal that read “Dear President Nixon: We Believe in our Students—They Are Not Bums!” After 45 years of teaching at URI, Doody retired in 2003. She maintains an active consulting practice as president of Arthur Associates. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.