Brigadier General Mark Martins to Give 2012 Commencement Address

Honorary degrees to Gen. Martins, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, chemist Joseph Francisco

April 26, 2012

Brigadier General Mark MartinsKnox College announced today that 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.

"From our very founding, Knox has had a long tradition of engaging on the pressing moral issues of our time," said Knox's President Teresa L. Amott. "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."

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 Masters Degree in National Security Strategy. He has published widely in legal journals.

The Knox College Commencement will be held on June 2, 2012, at 10 am on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public. Knox College will award honorary degrees to two additional distinguished individuals at Commencement: 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.