Newsroom Archive


More Than 2,600 Students to Graduate from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Thursday, May 29

Dr. Paul Farmer, Physician and Humanitarian, to Receive Honorary Degree

Prominent Scholars Will Receive Honorary Degrees for their
Life-long Commitment to Academic Excellence, Civil Liberties and Social Justice

New York, NY, May 21, 2008 –  Students, alumni, faculty and University guests, will gather in the Madison Square Garden Theatre for the College’s Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 29,  2008, at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM. College President Jeremy Travis, will open both Commencement ceremonies.  The day is the high point for undergraduate and graduate students who have worked diligently in pursuit of academic excellence. 

The 2008 class gift will be given to National Center for Victims of Crime.  In light of the recent student tragedies that have affected the John Jay Campus, the Class of 2008 feels this Center is the logical choice to begin to make a difference for the families affected by crime throughout the United States. Mary Lou Leary, Executive Director, will accept the donation on the Center’s behalf.

***Valedictory Oration***

Sonja DeCou is valedictorian for the 2008 graduating class.  Inspired by a deep social concern for the mentally ill, she left a career in graphic design to pursue a degree in psychology at John Jay.  In May 2007, Sonja won the Herbert Robbins Scholarship Award presented by the New York State Psychological Association for excellence in undergraduate psychology.  She plans to become a clinical psychologist and will attend CW Post's doctoral program in the fall. Her cumulative grade point average is 4.0.

***Salutatory Oration*** 

Evan Dawson is the salutatorian for the class of 2008. She is a member of Psi Chi, the

National Honor Society for Psychology, and works with Community for Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides services for at-risk youth. She will graduate will baccalaureate degree in Forensic Psychology and has applied to the CUNY Doctoral Program in Experimental Forensic Psychology at John Jay.  She plans to pursue a career in research and academia. Her cumulative grade point average is 3.986.  

***Honorary Degrees to Be Awarded***

John Jay College of Criminal Justice will grant three honorary degrees.  This year's honorary degree recipients are pioneering scholars from wide-ranging areas academia.

Paul Farmer, Doctor of Science
Renowned physician and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer is founding director of Partners in Health, an international charity organization that provides direct heath care services and undertakes advocacy activities on behalf of the world’s poorest populations. The Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology in the Department of Social Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Farmer is also an attending physician in infectious diseases and Chief of the Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant and is a recognized authority on treatment strategies for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Gary L. Wells, Doctor of Humane Letters
Gary Wells, Professor of Psychology and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University, is the preeminent scholar on mistaken identification who helped to develop the first set of national guidelines for police on eyewitness evidence.  Currently, Director of Social Sciences for the Institute of Forensic Science & Public Policy, Wells has studied police lineups for 30 years – more than anyone in his field – and produced over 102 peer reviewed publications and over 3100 citations.  His work, cited in several US Court of Appeals rulings, has proven that the standard ways of eyewitness identification are often ineffective.

Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Doctor of Humane Letters
Ellen Wolf Schrecker is a Professor of History at Yeshiva University and a leading historian of the Cold War era. As Editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors from 1998 to 2003, Schrecker was a major voice for academic freedom and civil liberties. She has made major contributions to study of American anti-Communism and domestic repression including her classic study of Cold War America, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Little, Brown, 1999). Her research has examined the roots of McCarthyism, the dishonest practice of professional anticommunists and role of the media during this destructive period of America’s history.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nationsIn teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.  For more information, visit