Hartwick College Announces 2024 Honorary Degree Recipients

Hartwick College will confer three honorary degrees at its 92nd Commencement exercises, to be held Saturday, May 18, on Elmore Field.

This year’s honorary degree recipients include Douglas Brinkley, US presidential historian and best-selling author; Harry Bradshaw Matthews, author and founding director of Hartwick’s United States Colored Troops (USCT) Institute for Local History and Family Research; and Linda Tarr-Whelan, an international expert on women’s leadership in the economy and government and prize-winning author.

“We are honored to recognize the extraordinary achievements of Douglas Brinkley, Harry Bradshaw Matthews and Linda Tarr-Whelan at our upcoming commencement ceremony,” said James Mullen Jr, interim president. “All three honorees exemplify the enduring values of intellectual curiosity, community engagement and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world that we strive to cultivate in our students. Their dedication to their respective fields serves as an inspiration to our graduating class as they embark on the next chapter of their journeys.”


Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley, who will also be the commencement speaker, is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and professor of history at Rice University. He is also the CNN Presidential Historian and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Brinkley’s most recent book, Silent Spring Revolution, documents the history of environmental activism from 1960 to 1973. Brinkley’s book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize, and The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Brinkley’s two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link—Warren F. Kuehl Prize. A side passion of Brinkley’s has long been jazz, folk and rock ‘n roll music. He won a Grammy Award (Best Jazz Ensemble) in 2007 for co-producing Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom. He was nominated for a Grammy for Gonzo, his collaboration with Johnny Depp on the soundtrack for an Alex Gibney documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. Other Brinkley music projects include writing the liner notes for Chuck Berry’s last CD titled Chuck and producing Fandango at the Wall with Arturo O’Farrill. Brinkley earned a degree in U.S. history with a minor in Latin American studies from Ohio State University. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from Georgetown University.

Harry Bradshaw Matthews

Harry Bradshaw Matthews is the retired associate dean and director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs and the U.S. Pluralism Center at Hartwick College. He is also the founding president of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Institute for Local History and Family Research at the College. Matthews has been honored with numerous proclamations and awards, including a 1998 proclamation from New York State Governor George E. Pataki; the 2004 Jeffries Carey National Achievement Medal; the Senate of Maryland Resolution 423 and the Maryland House of Delegates Resolution 258 for outstanding historical and genealogical research; and the 2003 Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust Award that was established by General Colin Powell. He is the author of African American Genealogical Research: How to Trace Your Family History, which was placed in the Library of Congress’s permanent collections in 2008. Matthews also wrote Whence They Came: The Families of United States Colored Troops in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1815-1995, and Honoring New York’s Forgotten Soldiers: African Americans of the Civil War. Matthews earned his bachelor’s degree in Black-Hispanic Studies and political science from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and his master’s degree in counseling education from Northern Michigan University.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan is an international expert on women’s leadership in the economy and government. She is the author of the prize-winning book Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World. Tarr-Whelan was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as deputy assistant for Women’s Concerns in the White House and by President Bill Clinton as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. She has served on state commissions in New York, Virginia and Vermont and was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Commission on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Previous roles include administrative director of the New York State Department of Labor, director of Government Relations and chief lobbyist for the National Education Association, and policy director for AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Tarr-Whelan was the managing partner with her husband, Keith Tarr-Whelan, in Tarr-Whelan & Associates Inc., an international change management consultancy and long-time president and CEO of the Center for Policy Alternatives, a national progressive think tank. Nursing was her original career and she holds a bachelor of science in nursing from Johns Hopkins, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland and honorary doctorates from Plymouth University, N.H., and Chatham University, Pa.

For more information about Hartwick’s commencement ceremony, visit the website.

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