Lawrence Breitborde Honorary Degree Presentation

June 08, 2013

Knox College Commencement

Citation read by Harold D. Bibb, '62, Knox College Life Trustee and Associate Dean of Graduate School, Retired, University of Rhode Island

President Amott, it is my honor to present Lawrence B. Breitborde, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, for the degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

Lawrence B. Breitborde joined the Knox community in 1995 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. Eighteen years later, he now stands as the longest serving academic dean in the history of the College. Yet his longevity is not what distinguishes his service to Knox College. His dedication to residential liberal arts learning, respect for the faculty, appreciation for the creativity and ingenuity of undergraduate students, self-deprecating sense of humor, mastery of the accordion, and strong resemblance to Jerry Garcia distinguish him as one of the most original and effective deans in American higher education.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in geography in 1971 from Clark University, Dean Breitborde received both his master's and doctorate degrees in anthropology from the University of Rochester in 1973 and 1978, respectively.

His teaching interests include language and culture, Sub-Saharan Africa, and anthropological linguistics. He has numerous publications and presentations to his credit, including the book Speaking and Social Identity: English in the Lives of Urban Africans (1998). His research in West Africa has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright-Hays program. Prior to joining the Knox community, Dean Breitborde served as the William S. Godfrey Professor and chair of anthropology at Beloit College.

During his 18 years at Knox, Dean Breitborde has appointed two-thirds of the current faculty, provided leadership in developing and launching the College's current curriculum, created special learning opportunities for students, successfully led the College through two re-accreditation reviews, and helped establish and develop Knox's academic learning centers, including the Stellyes Center for Global Studies and the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study. He also supported the introduction and expansion of numerous disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs, including Asian studies, business and management, environmental studies, journalism, and neuroscience, among others. Serving as the campus Fulbright advisor, he has helped 24 students receive Fulbrights since 1999, leading to Knox's recognition as one of the nation's leading producers of Fulbright awardees.

Dean Breitborde will step down from his current role on June 30 but will return to his first love, the classroom, joining Knox's Department of Anthropology and Sociology as a teacher and scholar after a well-deserved sabbatical.

President Amott, in honor of his distinguished service to the academic life and integrity of Knox College and his contributions to higher education, I present Lawrence B. Breitborde, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.