Knox College Plans for Commencement 2012

May 22, 2012

Knox College Commencement 2011
In this file photo from 2011, graduating Knox seniors walk between rows of applauding faculty.

Knox College will award more than 300 bachelor's degrees to the Class of 2012 at the College's 167th Commencement Exercises on Saturday, June 2.

The ceremony will be telecast on the Knox College Livestream channel. Details for graduating seniors, families and guests is on the Commencement Information page on the Knox website.

Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes trial system reformed by the Military Commissions Act of 2009, will deliver the Commencement Address.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony is held in T. Fleming Fieldhouse, and due to restricted seating, admission is limited to graduates, their families and invited guests.

Joseph Francisco, Gen. Mark Martins, Sir Andrew DavisHonorary degrees will be conferred on General Martins; Sir Andrew Davis, Music Director and Principal Conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Joseph S. Francisco, William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at Purdue University.

"From our very founding, Knox has had a long tradition of engaging on the pressing moral issues of our time. General Martins' selection as this year's Commencement speaker continues that tradition. I congratulate the senior class on choosing a serious speaker for serious times," said Knox's President Teresa L Amott.

"Knox has a proud history of accomplishment in law, music, and science, and these three honorees exemplify the life of accomplishment and global understanding Knox graduates have always been known for," Amott said.

Knox's first commencement ceremony was held in 1846 in the Colony Church, nine years after the college, church and city of Galesburg were founded in 1837. A national liberal arts college, Knox enrolls students from 48 states and U.S. territories and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Biographies of the Honorary Degree Recipients:

Brigadier General Mark Martins, Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes trial system reformed by the Military Commissions Act of 2009, will deliver the Commencement Address to the graduates. Martins has had a distinguished career as a soldier and lawyer and last year received Harvard Law School's Medal of Freedom for his efforts to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan and Iraq. More recently, he has become a noted proponent of transparency and legitimacy in legal proceedings involving detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

In 2011, Martins was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor conferred by Harvard Law School (HLS), and gave the inaugural Dean's Distinguished Lecture. According to HLS, the "Medal of Freedom was established to honor the achievements of individuals who have worked to uphold the legal system's fundamental commitment to freedom, justice, and equality. It has previously been awarded to the Brown v. Board of Education litigation team, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, and to South African President Nelson Mandela."

Martins was appointed chief prosecutor of military commissions by President Obama in 2011 and oversees the prosecution of a narrow but high-profile category of international terrorism offenses that violate the laws of armed conflict. He has served in Iraq and led efforts to reform detention operations in Afghanistan. Between deployments, he worked at the Department of Justice on President Obama's Detention Policy Task Force.

Commissioned in the infantry after graduating as valedictorian from the United States Military Academy in 1983, Martins served as a platoon leader and brigade staff officer in the 82d Airborne Division. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College (1985) and a graduate of Harvard Law School (1990). He holds an L.L.M. in Military Law and a Master's Degree in National Security Strategy. He has published widely in legal journals.

Sir Andrew Davis joined Lyric Opera in 2000 and was named a vice president of Lyric's Board of Directors in May 2011. Previously he served as principal conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He is also artistic advisor to the Besancon International Music Festival.

Davis has recently led performances with the leading orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal, Toronto, and London, as well as Berlin and Amsterdam; and with the world's great opera companies and festivals in New York, London, Milan, Bayreuth, Glyndebourne, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, and Toronto, among others. In 2012-13 at Lyric he will conduct Elektra, Simon Boccanegra, Werther, and Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.

Davis records exclusively for Chandos Records. In 2008, his recording of Elgar's Violin Concertos, with violinist James Ehnes and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, won "Best of Category - Concerto" Award from Gramophone magazine, and his recording of soprano Nicole Cabell with the London Philharmonic Orchestra won the Solti Prize from the French Academie du Disque Lyrique.

Davis studied organ at King's College, England. In 1991 he received the Royal Philharmonic Society/Charles Heidsieck Music Award. Sir Andrew was created a Commander of the British Empire in 1992 for his services to British music, and in 1999 was made a Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours List, which recognizes outstanding achievement and service throughout the United Kingdom.

Davis is the second notable figure in Lyric Opera history to receive an honorary degree from Knox. In 1987, the College awarded an honorary doctorate to the Lyric's general director, the late Ardis Krainik. In recent years, Knox faculty members Jason Helfer and Stephen Schroth have collaborated with Lyric Opera on an educational program -- Opera in the Neighborhoods -- that brings in-depth information about opera to thousands of Chicago-area grade-school students and their teachers.

Joseph S. Francisco, a research chemist, has conducted ground-breaking research into how the Earth's atmosphere breaks down pollutants, giving us an important understanding of how acid rain forms. Francisco and his colleague have discovered an unusual molecule that is essential to the atmosphere's ability to break down pollutants, especially the compounds that cause acid rain.

Author of more than 400 scientific papers, Francisco directs a laboratory that focuses on basic studies in spectroscopy, kinetics and photochemistry of gases that play an important role in atmospheric, biochemical and combustion processes. His research looks at how man-made materials, such as chlorofluorocarbons and their potential replacements, affect the ozone in the upper atmosphere that protects the earth from solar radiation.

Before joining the Purdue faculty in 1995, Francisco taught at Wayne State University, then conducted research at the California Institute of Technology.

From 2005 to 2007, Francisco served as president of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, then in 2010, he was elected president of the American Chemical Society -- the first African-American academic to head the ACS. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Other honors include the 2007 Herbert Newby McCoy Award -- Purdue University's most prestigious research award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Fellowship for outstanding young faculty in the chemical sciences; Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award.

Francisco served as mentor and dissertation advisor to Knox Professor of Chemistry Mary Crawford.

"Dr. Francisco uses his influence to empower others, and I am very proud to be his student and friend," Crawford said. "His contributions to the field of physical chemistry, his leadership and service in the scientific community, his dedication to increasing the number of American scientists while nurturing global collaboration and his dedication to his family should be an example to us all."