2010 Bicentennial Medalists
Established in 1993 on the occasion of the college's 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor.
This year's medalists received their awards at Convocation exercises, September 25th, when Adam Falk was inducted as 17th President of Williams College. Details here, video of awards ceremony here and more medalist photos here.
WILLIAM H. EDDY, JR. ’49
From your home in Vermont’s Northeast Kindgom, you have traveled the globe to expand human understanding of the natural world – launching some of the first public awareness programs in Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean; preserving important archaeological sites in India; and helping the Navajo interpret and convey to a growing number of visitors the significance of their ancestral lands. Untold land and species have been saved and newly appreciated because of your work. One key to this success has been your ability to engage each community in ways sensitive to its unique culture, as when you helped a remote tribe of camel-raising nomads in Kenya to understand their inadvertent role in the spread of desert. As a result, the Peace Corps and other organizations have enlisted you to train staff and volunteers in how to overcome their own cultural biases. Back home, your writing and broadcasting have done the same for countless readers and listeners, while your teaching at the University of Vermont is considered transformational. “No student he encounters is ever the same again,” says a colleague. “He opens windows they did not know existed, into the world and into themselves.” In recognition of your distinguished achievement in environmental education, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.
DANIEL KLEPPNER ’53
Few are able to say, as can you, that their laboratory has contributed fundamentally to our understanding of the physical world. You co-invented the hydrogen maser, an atomic clock whose precision and stability has advanced research and such applications as radio astronomy and global positioning systems. You pioneered the field of Rydberg atoms, which has led to new areas of research and expanded our insights into quantum systems. And, most breathtakingly, scientists from around the world literally stood and cheered when it was announced that after twenty years of dogged effort, you had helped to successfully produce a Bose-Einstein condensate – a new form of matter, neither liquid, solid, nor gas – by taking hydrogen atoms to ultra-cold temperatures, thus opening a whole new field of physics. In the classroom, you have helped train some of the most accomplished scientists in the world, including one Nobel Laureate, and have served on many national committees charged with investigating important scientific and social issues. But to physicists world wide, and especially here in Williamstown, you are idolized as the man who made the ultra-cold ultra-cool, a term that should have been applied to physics, and to physicists, all along. In recognition of your distinguished achievement in the study of physics, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.
WILLIAM E. SPRIGGS ’77
With the intellectual skills of a Political Economy major and the personal adroitness of a J.A., you have built from your Mead Summer Internship in Washington a singular career in the application of analytical horsepower to the improvement of people’s lives. Bridging the worlds of the academy, advocacy, and government, you have served as Chair of Howard University’s Department of Economics, Director of Research and Public Policy at The National Urban League, Staff Leader of the National Commission for Employment Policy, Senior Economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, and now Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. In all these roles, you have been an economist with a conscience, arguing, always with data, for the elimination of unfairness and the expansion of opportunity. Your persistent, if uncomfortable, rallying cry is that “poverty ... is the result of policy choices and moral conviction, or its absence.” And you have advanced that cause even more broadly through your presentations in countries around the world and your engagement with the U.N. Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia, and Other Forms of Intolerance. Few have been so able at combining the roles of public intellectual and public servant. In recognition of your distinguished achievement in public policy, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.
JOSHUA M. KRAFT ’89
Some people clean up the messes caused by society and some help prevent them from happening. You are one of the latter. The title of Founding Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea may sound glamorous but here is the reality. It began when, as an intern, you daily tracked down kids who had skipped school to encourage them not to drop out. It continued with going door-to-door to convince parents to send their children to your activities. Those took place in a single basement room, where despite the physical gloom, each child who entered was greeted as a valuable member of the community. After fifteen years of growing this program step by arduous step, you led the effort to raise twelve million dollars to build a facility worthy of the important work taking place inside. Having developed what was called a model Boys and Girls Club for the nation, you were appointed President and CEO of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, which connects each year with fourteen thousand at-risk youths – a number you have vowed to double. Just think of all the lives that would have been thwarted but have now been positively changed. No wonder that the Williams interns that we now send to you return awed by your quiet charisma. In recognition of your distinguished achievement in youth services, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.
CAMILLE L. UTTERBACK ’92
Technology and art, mind and body, viewer and object, virtual and real – the spaces between all these apparent dichotomies come into play throughout your work. Writing computer code as a way of “sculpting the medium,” you have pioneered the development of interactive art, resulting not only in patents and iPad apps but in installations around the world and, not surprisingly, a MacArthur Foundation Grant. Your “Liquid Time Series” uses viewers’ changing positions in the galleries to project images of both space and time. “Aurora Organ” translates small gestures into animated architectural-scale patterns of light. “Abundance” transformed the movement of people through San Jose’s City Hall Plaza into abstract images projected onto the building’s three-story rotunda. And in “Text Rain” the projected dance-like movements of viewer/artists appear to catch descending letters, forming words and phrases buoyed by those gestures, giving magical new meaning to the term body language. This work is all very much for our time, as artists no less than philosophers explore what it means in the digital age for humans to connect with machines and each other. In recognition of your distinguished achievement in interactive art, Williams College is proud to honor you with its Bicentennial Medal.