On behalf of the President and Trustees, it is my pleasure to welcome you back to Pine Manor College. For over 30 years we have been well represented by you in the United States House of Representative - and today we are pleased and proud to present you with an Honorary Degree in recognition of your exemplary accomplishments on behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts and of the United States.
Your career in public service has been long and distinguished and your commitment to civil rights and justice has been a continuous thread, beginning with your involvement with the Mississippi Freedom Summer project in 1964. You entered formal politics in 1968 during the progressive and transformative administration of former Boston Mayor Kevin White. After serving seven years in the Massachusetts State House you were elected to the US House of Representatives in 1980.
In Congress, you were one of the most energetic and effective masters of the legislative process. The bills that you wrote, sponsored and helped pass reflected your effort to protect and empower the many, rather than privilege the few. You knew that successfully supporting the rights of those who are marginalized – by race, poverty, gender or sexual orientation – required the art of politics: to build coalitions, to work with others in Congress, and to design laws and regulations that would work. Pine Manor was fortunate to have had your support in our successful efforts to obtain National Science Foundation funding for the BioScholars program.
In the aftermath of the recent economic collapse you were in a position to author far-reaching reforms to the US financial system. “Dodd-Frank”, which you wrote with your colleague Senator Christopher Dodd, established new rules for how banks would behave and how the government would provide stronger oversight – to prevent predatory practices that enrich the few at the expense of the many. Included in that law is the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection– much denounced by those who created the economic crisis as government over-reaching – but which has provided access for consumer complaints and has won tens of millions of dollars in judgments for American taxpayers.
For all you have done – and all you continue to do – to promote social justice, human rights, and economic opportunity for all people throughout the United States, we are proud to honor you today.
The Citation was read by William Stargard, Ph.D., College Marshal