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Robert Ballard


We all know the qualities of good scientists. Good scientists are skeptics with insatiable curiosity, imagination and creativity, who are driven to test and retest their ideas against rigorous rules of scientific proof. They communicate their ideas in the language of their field, often meaningless to those outside it. At some time, we have all met, and come to admire, such people.

Once in awhile, however, an unusual individual emerges from within that special group. This is an individual with the gift of telling a story. Someone who can transform dry scientific concepts and facts into a live drama of suspense and discovery.

Robert Ballard, you are such a rare person. As a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution you have devoted many years to studying tectonics and thermal processes of the ocean floor, reporting your work in a series of fine scientific publications. As a member of the Marine Board of the National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the Newcomb Cleveland Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many other awards, you have enjoyed the recognition and respect of the scientific community.

At the same time, you have been able to share your discoveries with many more than your professional colleagues. Through your articles in the National Geographic Magazine and television productions such as “Born of Fire” or Walter Cronkite’s “Universe,” you were able to inspire and capture the imagination of millions. Through your deep sea expeditions to the Mid-Ocean Ridge and Galapagos Rift and the recent discovery of the Titanic, you have played out the childhood dream of so many of us. Robert Ballard, you have turned the tales of Jules Verne into a modern reality.

Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University and in recognition of Robert Ballard”s distinguished contribution to society, I request that the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, be conferred upon him.