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Robert W. Kates


Mr. President, I have the honor of presenting Robert W. Kates, university professor and director emeritus of the World Hunger Program at Brown University, committed scholar on behalf of human dignity and the global environment, and former classmate and Clark University colleague.

Robert W. Kates, your academic career began when you left work in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana, to enter graduate studies at the University of Chicago, bypassing the normal undergraduate degree. After receiving your Ph.D. in 1962, you accepted a position here at Clark University in the Graduate School of Geography, where you stayed from 1962 to 1986 — twenty-four remarkable years in which you developed a theory of environmental hazards; pioneered enhanced methods of reconstruction from natural disasters; anticipated the recent concern with climate change, an endangered global environment and sustainable development; and chaired for three years the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences.

Since 1986, at Brown University, you have championed the cause of the world’s hungry. Under your leadership, the annual Hunger Research Briefing and Exchange has become the key international forum for both scholars and practitioners. You have been a moving force and eloquent spokesman for overcoming world hunger in the 1990s, as embodied most notably in the Bellagio Declaration.

Your honors are legion, including your appointment as university professor at Clark in 1974, followed in quick succession by your election to the National Academy of Sciences and your being named a MacArthur Fellow and fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science. Most recently, you have been awarded the National Medal of Science and have been elected as a fellow of the European Academy of Science, and president-elect of the Association of American Geographers.

It is with great personal pleasure, Mr. President, that, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students, and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, be conferred upon Robert W. Kates, my frequent coauthor and friend of thirty years.