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Dr. Rick Hodes will speak at 2013 commencement

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013

Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2013 20:04

Dr. Rick Hodes, a physician known for his work treating severely ill children in Ethiopia, will address graduates and receive an honorary degree at Brandeis’ 62nd commencement ceremonies this May, the Office of Communications announced today. Hodes will share the stage with five other honorary degree recipients.

The 2013 commencement ceremonies will be held May 19 in the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center.

Hodes, the medical director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, has spent over twenty years in the country treating children with life-threatening scoliosis or kyphosis. In his role with the JDC, he also oversaw the health care of thousands of Ethiopians seeking to immigrate to Israel in the early 1990s.

Hodes and his work have been documented in HBO’s Making the Crooked Straight and Marilyn Berger’s book This is a Soul. Hodes was a 2007 “CNN Heroes” finalist and an ABC Person of the Week in 2010.

“Dr. Hodes exemplifies what one person can do to heal the world,” said President Fred Lawrence in a statement. “By helping thousands of children and working to ensure that many more get life-saving or life-changing medical treatment, he reminds us that social justice is personal and that every child is worth saving.”

The other honorary degree recipients are Vartan Gregorian, former president of Brown University and the New York Public Library; Ellsworth Kelly, the abstract painter, sculptor and printmaker whose paintings “Yellow Curves” (1954) and “Blue White” (1962) are part of the permanent collection of the Rose Art Museum; Chaim Peri, former director of Yemin Orde Wingate Youth Village in Haifa, Israel; Elaine Schuster, co-founder of the Elaine and Gerald Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis and a public delegate to the United Nations General Assembly; and Leon Weiseltier, literary editor of The New Republic and author of several works, both fiction and nonfiction.

According to the Office of Communications, all members of the Brandeis community may nominate candidates for honorary degrees. A selection committee composed of trustees, faculty and staff submits a final list each year, which is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees and the University President.

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