2016 Commencement Speaker Ambassador of the United States of America George Bruno '64 H'96, Ret.

Hartwick Names Ambassador George Bruno ’64 H’96 Commencement Speaker

April 8, 2016

Hartwick College announced today its 2016 Commencement speaker will be Ambassador of the United States of America George Bruno ’64 H’96, Ret.

Captain Joan E. Darrah ’73, United States Navy, Retired, will receive the President’s Award for Liberal Arts in Practice and community leader William E. (Bill) Lewis will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at the Commencement ceremony, which will take place Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. on Elmore Field on the College campus.

During his remarkable career, Ambassador Bruno has served in private and public roles as an anti-poverty lawyer, a civil rights lawyer, the first executive director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance, and as senior advisor in the Army’s international office at the Pentagon. Bruno argued before the US Supreme Court, securing a landmark opinion by Justice William O. Douglas protecting Social Security benefits from creditors, and was later appointed by President Bill Clinton to the post of US Ambassador to Belize. He currently practices global immigration law and is a principal in the consulting firm of USA Group International.

“The Hartwick community is proud to count Ambassador Bruno as one of our graduates,” said Hartwick College President Margaret L. Drugovich. “An advocate for civic engagement, democracy, and civil rights, he has led by example his entire career. Our students, their families, and our entire community will benefit from his insights.”

Ambassador Bruno’s international experiences include serving as a diplomat and lecturer in more than 55 countries in Asia, the Subcontinent, Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. He has served on election observation missions in Pakistan, Romania, and Kosovo, and participated in world forums on trade, human rights, democracy, military affairs, and the administration of justice. Ambassador Bruno made frequent oversight visits to Panama to facilitate fulfillment of the 1977 Canal Treaty, and he has promoted legal aid in India and democracy in Qatar. He represented the US in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania to promote civil protection and cooperation among the Balkan nations, and he consulted with the War Crimes Tribunal in Bosnia.

Domestically, Ambassador Bruno’s contributions include his service as the Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, as a member of the Democratic National Committee, as New Hampshire Co-Chair of the Al Gore for President campaign, and as New Hampshire Co-Chair of the 1992 Clinton for President campaign. He has filled leadership roles in the campaigns of President Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson, Secretary of State John Kerry, and General Wesley Clark, Retired.

In addition to earning his bachelor’s degree in political science from Hartwick College, Bruno earned a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University, and was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 2013, the New Hampshire Bar Association named him the Daniel Webster International Lawyer of the Year. Hartwick has recognized his many achievements with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1996, and the College’s President’s Award for the Liberal Arts in Practice in 2011.

The 2016 President’s Award winner, Capt. Joan Darrah graduated magna cum laude from Hartwick College in 1973 as a John Christopher Hartwick Scholar, with majors in English and education. Her father, Horace, graduated from the College in 1937.

During her nearly 30-year career as a naval intelligence officer, Capt. Darrah served around the world in operational, analytical, and leadership assignments including: air intelligence officer for a special operations squadron, aide and flag secretary to the President of the Naval War College, senior intelligence officer for all east coast reconnaissance squadrons, and chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence headquarters. In almost every assignment, she was the first woman to hold the position.

Capt. Darrah received multiple awards for her distinguished service, including three Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medals.

After her retirement, Capt. Darrah was a tireless, inspirational, and compelling leader in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the law which mandated the firing of gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members. She addressed audiences across the country, including religious and corporate leaders, Members of Congress, and senior military leaders, educating them about DADT’s detrimental impact on service members and military readiness. She also testified before the House Armed Services Military Personnel Committee, personally briefed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and participated in numerous television and radio interviews. Capt. Darrah’s exceptional leadership and selfless determination were pivotal in the successful repeal of DADT. She and her spouse, Lynne Kennedy, continue their advocacy in support of equality for all military personnel.

A dedicated supporter of Hartwick College since the 1960s, honorary degree recipient William E. (Bill) Lewis has been a leader in Oneonta’s business community for decades. As president and owner of his family’s Oneonta Grocery Company, Lewis provided food and supplies to Hartwick College, as well as regional restaurants, school systems, and the general public for many years.

A graduate of Amherst College, Lewis served on the Hartwick College Board of Trustees from 1985 to 2003. He was an influential member of the Board’s Finance, Investment, Buildings & Grounds, Student Life, Education, and Budget committees, and the Campaign XXI Planning Committee. He also served as president of the Hartwick College Citizens Board from 1983 to 1984.

Lewis was active with many local organizations, including the Oneonta Kiwanis Club, Oneonta Elks Club, Cooperstown Country Club, the SUNY-Oneonta Educational Foundation Board, Catskill Symphony Orchestra, the Mechanics Exchange Bank, Executive Service Corps., and the Dime Savings Bank of New York. He was also President of the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Oneonta, and served on the board of the Future of Oneonta Foundation.

Further solidifying his connection to the College, The Eggleston Foundation – established by Lewis’ mother, Edith Eggleston Lewis – has provided longstanding support to the mission of Hartwick with his guidance. Clark Hall’s Eggleston Atrium is named for and dedicated to the generosity of the Foundation.

For additional information on Hartwick’s 2016 Commencement ceremony, contact Commencement Chair Taralyn Loewenguth at 607-431-4152 or commencementinfo@hartwick.edu.