Anne Fadiman, acclaimed author, essayist, and teacher, will receive an honorary degree from the College of the Holy Cross and address this year’s graduates during the College’s Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 24 at 10:30 a.m. on the campus.
Fadiman is the Francis Writer in Residence at Yale University, a position she has held since 2005. Her first book, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures” (1997), was lauded by critics and received the National Book Critics Circle Award, among numerous other nonfiction honors. The book tells the story of an extended refugee family with a child with epilepsy, and their cultural, linguistic, and medical struggles in America. “Spirit” has been widely referenced by medical practitioners working to offer more effective care to patients from other cultures. Fadiman is also the author of two books of essays, “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader” (1998) and “At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays” (2007), and edited “Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love” (2005). She was a founding editor of the Library of Congress magazine, Civilization, and for seven years was the editor of the Phi Beta Kappa quarterly, The American Scholar. Her essays and articles have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times and many other publications. She has won National Magazine Awards for both reporting and essays. At Yale, she teaches nonfiction writing seminars and works with students and editors of undergraduate publications. In 2012, she was awarded Yale’s Richard H. Brodhead Prize for Teaching Excellence. She is a graduate of Harvard University, and lives with her family in western Massachusetts.
Travis LaCouter ’13 has been selected to deliver the valedictory address at the College’s Commencement ceremonies. LaCouter, from Concord, N.H., is a member of the College Honors Program and has a double major in political science and Catholic studies.
He participated in the Washington Semester program during which time he interned with the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. There, he worked with an attorney on issues of civil justice and election law. He was subsequently awarded the 2012 Maurizio Vannicelli Washington Semester Away program award, and presented his thesis in a talk titled “Inside the Mind of ‘The Most Important Man In Washington’: Anthony Kennedy on Religion.”
On campus, LaCouter is the chair of the Political Science Student Advisory Committee, serves as an Admissions Office senior interviewer and student representative on the Curriculum Committee. He also edits The Fenwick Review.
The College will also bestow two other honorary degrees on the following individuals at Commencement:
Janet Eisner, SND
President, Emmanuel College, Boston
The nation’s longest-serving woman college president now sitting, President Eisner, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, has led Emmanuel College since 1979. Under her leadership, Emmanuel has experienced a time of exceptional innovation, achievement and growth. She provided the founding vision for the Colleges of the Fenway collaboration; she forged a partnership that brought Merck Research Laboratories to campus; and in 2000 she led Emmanuel’s transition from an all-women’s college to a thriving coeducational college. Over the past 10 years, applications to Emmanuel have increased elevenfold, enrollment has tripled, and the campus has been transformed by the building of the Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center and the Jean Yawkey Student Center. Currently and throughout her career she has served on various local, state, and national educational commissions and boards, including the Executive Committee of the Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO), Colleges of the Fenway, Catholic University of America, American Council on Education (ACE), the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic schools initiatives, Association of Governing Boards, and National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She has had a long relationship with Holy Cross as a current member of the Advisory Board and former member of the Board of Trustees. She participated as a guest panelist in the Holy Cross Inauguration Faculty Symposium (“Imagining Teaching and Learning at a Jesuit, Liberal Arts College in the 21st Century”). She holds an A.B. degree from Emmanuel, an M.A. from Boston College, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Before her appointment as president, she served at Emmanuel as a faculty member, chair of the English Department, and director of Admissions.
Jack D. Rehm ’54, P81, 85, 88
Philanthropist and influential media executive
A member of the Holy Cross Cornerstone Society, a Lifetime President’s Council member, former Trustee, current member of the Advisory Board, and co-chair of his class’s reunion gift committee for the 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, and 45th reunions, Jack Rehm has taken a remarkable leadership position in the advancement of Holy Cross. In 2001, then-president Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., named Mr. Rehm to lead Holy Cross into its next capital campaign. He was responsible for shepherding the record-breaking $215 million campaign, and he gave $2 million to name Smith Hall’s Rehm Library — now a place for gathering, study, and reflection and venue for some of the most important lectures on campus. Mr. Rehm joined the Meredith Corporation in 1962 as a member of the Better Homes and Gardens advertising staff, moving up the ranks within Meredith’s publishing group through the 1970s, culminating with moving to Des Moines in 1980 to assume its presidency. He became president and COO in 1988, CEO in 1989, and chairman in 1992. He was named publisher of the year in 1988 by the Magazine Publishers Association and received its highest honor, The Henry Johnson Fisher Award, in 1989. He retired as chairman in 1998 but continued to serve on the Meredith board. He was instrumental in the renewal of downtown Des Moines, the company’s home since 1902. While he was company chairman, Meredith broke ground on its $25 million office expansion that anchored the western edge of the Gateway. Also in Des Moines, he led the city’s Major Projects Task Force; served as chairman of the Drake University Board of Governors; and was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1999.