Newsroom

April 16, 1999

Founder of Seeds of Peace, John Wallach, to Speak at Middlebury College's Commencement on May 23

Middlebury to Award Honorary Degrees to Wallach and Seven Others

John Wallach, who is founder and president of Seeds of Peace as well as an award-winning author and journalist, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Middlebury College's graduation ceremony on May 23.

Wallach, a member of the Middlebury class of 1964, founded the non-profit youth organization Seeds of Peace in 1993 in response to the World Trade Center bombings. At a camp in Maine, the organization brings together teenagers from conflicting backgrounds--Arabs and Israelis, Bosnians and Serbs, for example--and helps break down the barriers of hate between them so that a better mutual understanding can be achieved.

Before founding Seeds of Peace, Wallach was the foreign editor of the Hearst Newspapers from 1968 to 1994. He was a regular commentator on such network news shows as NBC's "Meet the Press," and received numerous journalistic awards--including the National Press Club's highest honor, The Edwin Hood Award, for breaking the story of the Iran-Contra scandal.

The College will present honorary degrees to seven other distinguished individuals, including Darby Bradley, a resident of Calais, Vt., who will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws. As president of the Vermont Land Trust, Bradley has helped the organization to preserve over 235 operating farms and 285,000 acres of land, striving for a responsible balance of both use and protection of the land. The Burlington Free Press named Bradley 1999 Vermonter of the Year for his key role in the Land Trust's accomplishments, including a project with The Conservation Fund which will conserve an additional 133,000 acres of forestland in northern Vermont.

The College will award James S. Davis, chief executive officer of New Balance Athletic Shoe, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A 1966 graduate of Middlebury and a member of the College's board of trustees from 1984-1989, Davis bought the Boston-based New Balance in 1972 when its six-person work force was making 30 pairs of running shoes a day. Today the company employs approximately 2,000 people and anticipates revenues of over $750 million in 1999. Named one of the nation's top 10 entrepreneurs by Business Week magazine in 1993, Davis has maintained a commitment to manufacturing many New Balance shoes in the United States, instead of turning to cheaper labor overseas.

Antonia Ax:son Johnson, chairwoman and owner of The Axel Johnson Group, a 122-year-old multinational Swedish conglomerate, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Johnson's strong international interest and desire to enhance international studies at Middlebury College has led her to establish a scholarship for students who choose it for a major. She also has been a proponent of aggressive recruitment of topnotch students from abroad to further diversify the College's student body. A parent of 1991 Middlebury graduate Caroline Morner, Johnson served on the College's board of trustees from 1992-1997.

Milton V. Peterson, a 1958 graduate of Middlebury College, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. He is a major developer of commercial property in Virginia and former member of that state's Governor's Advisory Board of Economic Development. Peterson was a member of the College's board of trustees from 1983-1998, and its chair from 1989-1993 as it met daunting fiscal and administration leadership challenges. He and his wife, Middlebury classmate Carolyn Skyllberg, are the parents of three Middlebury alumni.

Eva T. H. Brann, former dean and current Addison Mullikin Tutor at St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. A frequent speaker on the Middlebury campus, Brann is a scholar of archaeology, classics, history, and philosophy. She has written numerous articles on subjects ranging from Homer's "Odyssey" to Jane Austin's novels, and her most recent book, published in 1999, is titled "What, Then, Is Time?" Brann's memberships have included the Maryland Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the U.S. Advisory Commission for International Education and Cultural Affairs.

The College will award Donald T. Regan, who served in the Reagan administration as White House chief of staff and secretary of the treasury, the honorary Doctor of Laws. As secretary of the treasury, Regan played a key role in shaping what was to become the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Before called to Washington, D.C., he was chairman and chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch. The youngest man to ever hold that post when he became president in 1968, Regan served the company 35 years. He was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame in 1981, and has served as vice president of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange. Regan is the grandfather of 1999 Middlebury graduate Sara Doniger.

Bill Withers, a singer and songwriter, will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts. He won Grammy Awards as a songwriter for "Ain't No Sunshine" in 1971, for "Just the Two of Us" in 1981, and for the re-recording of his 1972 hit "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau in 1987. Three of his recordings became Gold discs in 1972, 1977, and 1987. His songs have been recorded by hundreds of artists--including Barbara Streisand and Michael Jackson--spanning all types of genres, from hip hop to classical. He is the parent of 1999 Middlebury graduate Todd Withers.