Doctor of Humane Letters
William E. Strickland Jr., visionary leader, social innovator, a beacon of hope for those seeking a better life.
From your impoverished beginning in inner-city Pittsburgh to your place today as the architect of an entrepreneurial model that uses education and culture to—in your words—“make the impossible possible,” you are changing the way civic leaders approach problems that have bedeviled communities for decades. That you founded a youth and arts guild, combined it with a vocational training center, and built a corporation that lifted up not only a community but an entire city is nothing less than extraordinary. That you have used this model to construct a template for social change that is now being employed nationwide is revolutionary.
You were an at-risk youth growing up in a city in decline when you adopted a belief that has come to define your life and inform the lives of countless others. “A successful life is not something you simply pursue, it is something you create, moment by moment.” You said that. You live that. You instill that.
It is therefore my privilege, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Middlebury College, to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, privileges, and responsibilities here and everywhere appertaining to this degree.
May 27, 2012