Skip to content

Alan Khazei


Alan Khazei

Doctor of Laws (honoris causa)

Mr. President, I have the honor of presenting Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year, national leader, social entrepreneur, and mentor to thousands of children and adults inspired by his message to serve in their communities.

Mr. Khazei, you graduated from Harvard College and then Harvard University Law School and had numerous lucrative opportunities before you. But you left Harvard inspired by a call to public service that still echoes inside those ivy-covered walls in the sharp Boston accent of John F. Kennedy. You started City Year with a vision of making it an urban Peace Corps for the poorer neighborhoods of Boston. With it, you created a culture of volunteerism and instilled a spirit of national public service that reached far beyond Boston.

Your work set the bar for how the youth of America can help change the world by starting at home. At the same time you helped give birth to a movement of social entrepreneurism that is still growing, and that has inspired other successful models such as Teach for America and Citizen Schools. Yet possibly your most important contribution to our country was your pursuit of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act that formed Americorps, an institution to make volunteering part of the fabric of our nation.

Through all your years in public service, you have never lost sight of the people around you, your family and friends. You have woven a seamless fabric of caring that envelops those in your life. You describe that belief in love combined with the hard work of public service as “rugged idealism,” and it is an ideal that serves us well.

These values — academic excellence, public service, caring, and social entrepreneurism — resonate with us here at Clark, where students and faculty have long been committed to making our neighborhood, our city, and our world a better place. The honorary degree that you will receive in a moment merely confirms what those who know you best have suspected for a good long while — your degrees may be framed in Harvard crimson, but your soul glimmers in Clark red.

Mr. President, on behalf of the Trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, be conferred on Alan Khazei.