Oberlin’s annual Commencement ceremony honors the 2019 graduating class. The event will include the Commencement address from Lisa Jackson of Apple, and the presentation of honorary degrees.

Commencement Keynote: Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson
Photo credit: Apple

Lisa Jackson is Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, and served as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2013.

At Apple, Jackson leads the company’s environmental initiatives, global community education programs, product accessibility efforts, corporate giving, and worldwide government affairs.

Since Jackson’s arrival in 2013, Apple has transformed its environmental footprint. Under her leadership, the company reached the goal of powering its operations around the world with 100 percent renewable energy. It is now implementing its industry-leading supplier clean energy program—responsible for adding over 5 gigawatts of new clean energy around the world—to drive the transition to renewable energy with Apple’s manufacturing partners. In addition, Jackson spearheads Apple’s circular economy programs, grounded in the company’s ambition to one day make its products using only recycled or renewable materials.

President Barack Obama appointed Jackson as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009—the first African American to hold the position. As administrator, she focused on reducing greenhouse gases, protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination, and achieving environmental justice by expanding environmental outreach to underserved communities and communities of color.

She also served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and as commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, following nearly 20 years in the career ranks of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson has been recognized as a leader in business and sustainability in a number of leading publications including Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Vogue’s Game Changers, InStyle’s Badass Women, Newsweek’s Most Important People, TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (2010 and 2011) and Ebony’s Power 100 lists. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including Princeton’s James Madison Medal, Tulane University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Environmental Law Institute’s Environmental Achievement Award, the Corporate EcoForum’s C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Business Leadership and the Captain Planet Foundation’s Protector of the Earth Award.

Jackson holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering at Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Tulane University. She holds honorary degrees from Montclair State University, Florida A&M University, Tulane University, Dickinson College, Spelman College, and Oberlin College; and an honorary law degree from Pace Law School. She serves on the boards of Tulane University, Emily’s List, Conservation International, and the San Francisco Film Society. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Honorary Doctor of Science

Joanne Chory is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology. She also is professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where she directs the Plant Biology Laboratory, and an adjunct professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego.

Joanne Chory
Photo credit: Joe Belcovson

A native of Massachusetts, Chory earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with honors at Oberlin College, a doctoral degree in microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School.

In 1988, she joined the faculty of the Salk Institute.

The Oberlin alumna has spent more than 30 years using Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering mustard plant, as a model for plant growth. She has pioneered the use of molecular genetics to study how plants optimize their body plans for photosynthetic life in response to a dynamic local light environment. Chory and her lab members run an integrated program that spans atoms to ecosystems. This has allowed them to determine one of the most complex signaling networks that controls plant growth.

Chory has served on numerous advisory committees and editorial boards. Her many honors and awards include being named to the National Academy of Inventors, a 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, and a 2018 Gruber Genetics Prize.

Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts

Robert Krulwich is cohost of Radiolab, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning program about ‘big ideas’ and now one of public radio’s most popular shows. It is carried on more than 500 radio stations and its podcasts are downloaded over 9 million times each month.

Robert Krulwih
Photo credit: Sara Krulwich

For 22 years, Krulwich worked in television covering science, economics, war, and technology at ABC, CBS, and PBS. He is well known for his experimental style, pioneering animation on ABC’s Nightline and World News Tonight, and using dancers to illustrate hard-to-fathom economic stories at CBS. He explored the structure of DNA using a banana on PBS’ NOVA, and on NPR, he created an Italian opera, Ratto Interesso, to explain how the Federal Reserve regulates interest rates.

The New York Times described him a “a storied figure in public radio history.” TV Guide described him as “the most inventive network reporter in television.”

He has won two Peabody Awards and Emmy awards for a cultural history of the Barbie doll and a Frontline investigation of computers and privacy; a George Polk Award and an Emmy for a look at the Savings & Loan bailout; and the 2010 Essay Prize from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Krulwich also has won the AAAS Science Journalism Award for a 2001 NOVA special, ‘‘Cracking the Code of Life;’’ the Extraordinary Communicator Award from the National Cancer Institute; and an Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Award.

Krulwich earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Oberlin College in 1969, and a law degree at Columbia University in 1974. He is married to Tamar Lewin, longtime national reporter for the New York Times.