Speakers and Award Recipients

Oberlin’s annual Commencement ceremony honors the 2022 graduating class. The event will include the Commencement address from Nobel Prize winner Joshua D. Angrist ’82, and the presentation of honorary degrees.

Commencement Speaker

Joshua D. Angrist ’82, Honorary Doctor of Social Science

Nobel Prize winner Joshua D. Angrist ’82 will deliver the keynote address for the Commencement ceremony honoring the Class of 2022.

Josh AngristAngrist is the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, a cofounder and director of MIT’s Blueprint Labs, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. A dual United States and Israeli citizen, Angrist taught at Harvard and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before joining the MIT faculty in 1996. Angrist earned his bachelor's degree in economics at Oberlin in 1982 and completed his Ph.D. in economics at Princeton in 1989.

Angrist has developed innovative ways to harness the power of natural experiments to answer important economic questions, transforming empirical research. These new econometric tools help social scientists and policy-makers discover the causal effects of choices and policy changes. Angrist’s research is not only methodological. In dozens of studies, he explores the economics of education and school reform; the impact of social programs on the labor market; and the labor market effects of immigration, regulation, and institutions.

Angrist received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 2021 (with Co-Laureates Guido Imbens and David Card). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has served on many editorial boards and as a coeditor of the Journal of Labor Economics. Angrist received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) in 2007.

An accomplished author, Angrist coauthored Mostly Harmless Economics: An Empiricist’s Companion and Mastering Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect with Steve Pischke. These are among the most widely used econometrics texts and are certainly the funniest. Through this work and their ongoing scholarship, Angrist and Pischke hope to bring undergraduate econometrics instruction out of the “Stones Age.”

Angrist will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

Honorary Degree Recipients

John Brombaugh, Honorary Doctor of Music

John BrombaughFrom his childhood, John Brombaugh was interested in music, the organ in his hometown church, and “electrical things,” so he attended the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering in 1960. After two years working with the Baldwin Piano Company in Cincinnati, helping in their manufacture of electronic organs, he attended Cornell University, where he earned a master’s in electrical engineering for which he wrote a thesis on the characteristics of the sound generated by organ pipes. Due to his impelling interest in organs, he then served three and a half years as an apprentice with Fritz Noack and Charles Fisk in metro Boston.

From there he took a journeymanship with Rudolf von Beckerath in Hamburg, where he spent many hours studying historic organs in the North German/Dutch neighborhood. As a private project while working with Noack, he built a small pipe organ for the church he and his wife, Christa, attended while they lived near the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York. David Boe, Oberlin's organ professor and John's brother Mark's teacher at Oberlin Conservatory, played the dedication recital on that organ.

Upon returning from Hamburg in June 1968, John opened his organ shop near his hometown in Southwest Ohio. Boe’s church in Lorain, Ohio, gave him a contract to design and build a new tracker action pipe organ of 26 stops. That was successful enough to give him work for 40 more years, during which time he built 66 organs with 48,000 pipes of sizes up to 70 stops on 4 manuals, some with Meantone tuning. In fact, the Op. 4 organ for Boe's church was the first major new organ world-wide not to be tuned in Equal Temperament thus opening a new sphere in modern pipe organ building.

Throughout that time, Brombaugh's major emphasis was to build new tracker action organs based on the great historic ideas from the early Renaissance onward and one of these organs was the first American organ to go to Europe since the1930s. Similarly, his shop built a 4manual, 62 stop concert hall organ for Toyota City, Japan that was tuned with a very effective unequal temperament that caused the orchestra’s concertmaster to say he had never before heard a pipe organ make such wonderful music.

George E. Lewis, Honorary Doctor of Music

George LewisAmerican composer, musicologist, computer installation artist, and trombonist George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. After completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Yale University, he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the African American collective now widely recognized for innovative American music. Lewis joined Columbia’s Department of Music in 2004, serving as area chair in composition and faculty member in historical musicology, and teaching courses in composition, computer music, and histories of 20th century music and experimentalism.

His work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms has been presented worldwide. Significant works include The Will To Adorn (2011), for sixteen instruments; the AACM opera Afterword (2015); and Minds In Flux (2021), for symphonic orchestra and spatialized computer sound processing, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Proms 2021. Lewis is also a pioneer in creating computer programs that draw on artificial intelligence techniques to improvise in concert with human musicians. At the Parisian computer music institute IRCAM, he composed Rainbow Family (1984), the predecessor of the influential computer music program Voyager (1987). His most recent work includes “The Recombinant Trilogy,” three works for solo instrument and spatialized audio processing, of which Emergent (2014), written for flutist and Oberlin Conservatory graduate Claire Chase ’01, is perhaps the most frequently performed. Professor Lewis has also created interactive sound installations, including Rio Negro II (2007), a work with Douglas R. Ewart and Douglas Repetto for electronics and robotically controlled bamboo sound makers; Ikons (2010), an interactive sound and sculpture installation combined with a chamber work for eight instruments, in a collaboration with Canadian artist Eric Metcalfe for the 2010 Vancouver Olympiad; and Whispering Bayou (2015), a videosonic installation developed with multimedia artists Carroll Parrott Blue and Jean-Baptiste Barriere.

Lewis’s scholarship explores technology, improvisation, race, and identity. His book, A Power Stronger Than Itself:  The AACM and American Experimental Music (2008), received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s first Music in American Culture Award. His articles include “Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives” (Black Music Research Journal, 1996); “Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager” (Leonardo Music Journal, 2000); and “The Situation of a Creole” (Twentieth Century Music, 2017). His coedited (with Benjamin Piekut) two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016) presents perspectives from scholars working in both artistic and nominally nonartistic fields in the humanities, arts, and the social and natural sciences.

Lewis has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Akademie der Künste Berlin. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and his other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), and a Doris Duke Artist Award (2019). He is an honorary member of the American Musicological Society, and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, New College of Florida, and Harvard University.

Lewis has enjoyed a long and fruitful association with Oberlin. Having served on the MFA committee for Oberlin Professor of Studio Art and Africana Studies Johnny Coleman, he was first introduced to campus by Wendell Logan, who served as Professor of African American Music and Chair of Oberlin’s Jazz Studies Department. Lewis collaborates extensively with the Oberlin alumni who cofounded the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble, for which he serves as artistic director.

Posthumous Diploma

Mary Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia LewisMary Edmonia Lewis is recognized as a world-renowned sculptor. As a woman of Afro-Caribbean and Ojibwe descent, she accomplished what only a few women or people of color did in the late 19th century: a career as an artist that began in a childhood spent making and selling moccasins, baskets, and other crafts with her indigenous family; continued during schooling in New York State and Oberlin and an apprenticeship in sculpting in abolitionist Boston; and establishing her own studio in Rome. She created pieces that ranged from busts of prominent figures, representations of indigenous subjects, a tribute to freed African Americans, to enormous pieces such as The Death of Cleopatra, which was rediscovered and restored in recent years. Her work is still being unearthed, collected, exhibited, and sold. She achieved remarkable and unparalleled fame in her lifetime and beyond.

Edmonia Lewis, as she is best known today, had a very complex relationship with Oberlin. She entered Oberlin Academy Preparatory School in 1859, and later transitioned into the Young Ladies Course of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute. While at Oberlin, she took the traditional classes designed for women and continued to study art. Lewis’ time at Oberlin was marred by two disturbing events. She was accused of poisoning two fellow female students, was tried, and was exonerated. However, after being unjustly accused of stealing art supplies, she was not permitted to enroll for her final semester of classes. Thus, she was denied the diploma she was on track to earn.

When she left Oberlin, Lewis traveled to Boston to seek abolitionist support. After a brief apprenticeship, she learned to fashion her own tools, perfecting her ability to sculpt in marble, while also making plaster reproductions of well-known citizens to earn money. From Boston Lewis traveled to Rome where she established her own studio, which became a tourist destination. She had many exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, including the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. She worked and lived in Rome until 1901 and spent her final years in London, where she is buried.

One of her busts is in the permanent collection at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and the year-long AMAM exhibit “Wildfire Test Pit” was inspired by her work. In the academic year 1862-1863, Lewis is listed as one of 19 fourth-year students in the final year of the Young Ladies’ Course. Students in the Young Ladies’ Department completed a four-year course of study that incorporated coursework in the arts and humanities, religion, natural sciences, mathematics, and social sciences. At the conclusion of their studies, students earned a Diploma of the Ladies’ Course.

It is in recognition of her great accomplishments and tragic denial of completion of her studies, that Mary Edmonia Lewis is awarded the Diploma of the Ladies Course.

Awards

Dr. James Anthony ’75, Distinguished Service to the Community

James AnthonyDr. James Anthony is the system medical director of occupational health for Bon Secours Mercy Health, Harness Health Partners, and Mercy Health Lorain. He is responsible for medical leadership in occupational health for more than 40 hospitals in four states. Dr. Anthony, majored in chemistry at Oberlin College, and earned his doctor of medicine degree at the University of Cincinnati Medical School in 1979.

After two years in the national health service and 14 years in a busy family practice, Dr. Anthony added extensive experience in occupational and sports medicine with a special emphasis on return-to-work/return-to-sports and transitional work. He is board certified in family practice and has special training in occupational medicine at the University of Cincinnati. He was a student health and team physician for Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, for 24 years, including experience at the professional and high school level in sports medicine. As the medical director of athletic training at Heidelberg for eight years, he was responsible for helping to educate athletic trainers as an adjunct professor.

Dr. Anthony began full-time work in occupational medicine in 1998. As a current member of the Health Care Quality Committee of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, Dr. Anthony brings extensive experience in the care of Ohio injured workers. He has been active with the Ohio BWC for many years and pairs his care experience with an understanding of the perspective of employers and the Ohio BWC.

Dr. Anthony has remained at the forefront of population health efforts since 1996. He was cochair of the Board for the Northern Ohio Alliance for Health from 1997-2001. Currently he is board chair for Mercy Health Select. Mercy Health Select is the population health division of Mercy Health. He has lectured frequently over the past 20 years on a variety of topics ranging from transitional work to shoulder injuries. His lectures have been heard at the Ohio BWC University program throughout the state, the Ohio Safety Congress, the board and entire staff of the Ohio BWC, the Self-Insured Employer’s Group of Ohio, the Ohio Athletic Conference Team Physician conference and various other organizations.

With our new “COVID reality,” Dr. Anthony has done extensive research and study on this disease and the pandemic. He has served as a clinical lead for the Harness Health Partners Occupational Medicine COVID-19 testing program and the Bon Secours Mercy Health program for returning our 60,000 associates back to work from COVID-19. In addition, he has served Oberlin College as a medical advisor during this crisis. Dr. Anthony notes that “It has been an honor for me to be a small part of Oberlin’s phenomenal success in meeting this silent and deadly enemy. I am proud to be an Obie.”

Kurt Russell, Distinguished Service to the Community

Kurt RussellA 25-year veteran of the classroom, Kurt Russell was first inspired to become a teacher in middle school, when he encountered his first Black male teacher. Now, as the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, he plans to advocate for classrooms to better reflect the students within them. 

Born and raised in Oberlin, Russell teaches history at Oberlin High School, where his classes have included African American history, U.S. History, international baccalaureate history of the Americas, and a course on race, gender and oppression. He received teacher of the year awards from the Oberlin Heritage Center in 2009 and the Oberlin Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2019. 

In addition to teaching classes, Russell also serves as advisor for the Black Student Union, student council, and junior class. Since 1996, he has coached basketball for Oberlin City Schools. As the head coach of the boys varsity basketball team, he has received numerous awards, including the Lorain County Basketball Association’s Coach of the Year and the Northeast Ohio Coach of the Year. 

Russell received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history and minor in Black studies from the College of Wooster. He obtained a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Ashland University, and he continues to take courses in child development at Oakland City University. He and his wife, Donna, are the parents of two adult sons, Kurt Junior (KJ) and Korey.

Bonnie Green Millikan ’63 and Joel Millikan ’63, Alumni Medal

The MillikansBonnie and Joel Millikan met during their junior year at Oberlin while serving as freshman dorm counselors. Bonnie majored in English literature while Joel studied economics, played lacrosse, and co-captained the football team. During graduation, under the lanterns on Tappan Square, they became engaged; a year later they married in Philadelphia surrounded by Oberlin friends.

Both went on to graduate school, Bonnie earning an MEd from Cornell University in 1964, and Joel an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1965. Bonnie taught junior high school and was a private tutor, while Joel, a CFA, worked as an institutional portfolio manager and chief investment officer. In 1992, the couple began working together to create and build Cardinal Capital Management, an investment firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, focused on individuals, families, and trusts. They retired in 2012 to devote more time to volunteer work and their family.

Volunteering has long been an important part of the Millikans’ life. Bonnie relied upon scholarship funds and work opportunities to attend Oberlin, and she and Joel earned scholarship grants for graduate school, which they credit to their Oberlin degrees. This motivated the couple’s desire to raise scholarship funds for others. After graduating from Oberlin, they volunteered as admissions representatives and began decades of service as class agents. In 2013, they co-led their 50th Reunion Gift Committee, which raised more than $21 million and inspired Oberlin to grant them an Alumni Appreciation Award in 2014. 

The couple’s fundraising efforts at Oberlin have largely focused on support for student scholarships awarded through the Class of 1963 Scholarship Funds. In addition, Joel was a panelist for gift planning seminars and serves as an Annual Fund lead agent. Through these efforts, he inspires annual giving from classmates by soliciting philanthropic dollars that support Oberlin's greatest needs. He also serves as the alumni lead of the Annual Fund stewardship calling team. 

The Millikans value the strong, long-lasting friendships they made at Oberlin with classmates of diverse callings and backgrounds. “We were taught, mentored, and inspired by some of Oberlin’s most storied professors,” they say, specifically acknowledging Freddie Artz, Andrew Bongiorno, Tom Flynn, Dewey Ganzel, Clyde Holbrook, Ken Strand, and Robert Weinstock. “These good folks taught critical analysis, independent thinking, encouraged original research, then guided us to graduate school. George Langler, the director of financial aid, was a friend and guide to us, as he was to all Oberlin students in the 1960s.” 

Beyond Oberlin, Bonnie and Joel raised three children who have added six grandchildren to the family. Both are elders in the Presbyterian Church and have been active in resettling refugees from Vietnam and Nepal and residents from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Joel led disaster recovery teams to New Orleans and to eastern North Carolina, while Bonnie led a large Backpack Buddies program and volunteer teams working with the InterFaith Food Shuttle in Durham, North Carolina.

Bonnie and Joel have been active leaders with the Haiti Reforestation Partnership, which has planted more than 15 million trees in the mountains of Haiti. They recently led a successful fundraising project to build an emergency services communication tower in the Adirondack Park community of Inlet, New York.