Students, alumni, faculty and guests will gather in the Theater at Madison Square Garden for the College’s 51st Commencement exercises on Wednesday, June 1, at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM. Honorary doctorates will be presented to Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, noted legal scholar on the faculty of both UCLA and Columbia University law schools, and Eve Ensler, award-winning author of “The Vagina Monologues” and tireless advocate for gender-justice, who will also serve as speakers at the ceremonies.
Through law and literature, the 2016 honorees have long demonstrated their commitment to the cause of justice. A Distinguished Professor at the UCLA School of Law and a professor at Columbia Law School, Ms. Crenshaw co-founded the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, for which she also serves as director. Internationally renowned for her work in civil rights law and critical race theory, Crenshaw's contribution to legal scholarship has changed the landscape of law school curriculum for the better. For the past 20 years her contributions to the field have shaped debates, research, and policies that challenge structural inequality, domination, and oppression.
Ms. Ensler first became known as the playwright who wrote and performed “The Vagina Monologues,” which has earned her an Obie Award for Best New Play, a Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Playwriting and, subsequently, a special Tony Award for her “substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations.” As her work has been produced on stages around the country and worldwide, she has engaged in a parallel stream of activism through international V-Day campaigns and One Billion Rising events, focusing on the issue of justice for survivors of gender violence.
For more information about John Jay’s Commencement ceremonies, visit http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/graduation.
Profiles of Honorary Degree Recipients
10:30 A.M. Ceremony – Speaker and Honorary Degree: Doctor of Civil Law
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a Distinguished Professor at the UCLA School of Law and a professor at Columbia Law School, is an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory. In 1996, she co-founded the African American Policy Forum, a nonprofit think tank and information clearinghouse that seeks to build bridges between scholarly research and public discourse in addressing inequality and discrimination, and advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality, and the indivisibility of all human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally. In 2011, she co-founded the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia University. Ms. Crenshaw is also a former assistant to the legal team representing Anita Hill at the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Her legal scholarship has been published in the Harvard Law Review, the National Black Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review and the Southern California Law Review, and has been cited as influential in the drafting of the Constitution of South Africa. Her numerous professional accolades include the Outstanding Scholar Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, a Fulbright Chair for Latin America in Brazil, multiple Professor of the Year honors from UCLA law school, and Ms. magazine’s “No. 1 Most Inspiring Feminist” award.
3:30 P.M. Ceremony – Speaker and Honorary Degree: Doctor of Letters
Eve Ensler, the playwright of “The Vagina Monologues,” has used the fame from that award-winning work as a springboard for global activism in pursuit of gender justice and ending sexual violence. Ms. Ensler, whose literary output includes dozens of plays, books and films, used the experience of performing “The Vagina Monologues” to create V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day raises funds – more than $100 million to date – and awareness through annual benefit productions of Ms. Ensler’s signature work. Since 1998, the year she also founded V-Day, Ms. Ensler has led a writing group at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, which was portrayed in the documentary “What I Want My Words to Do to You.” In 2012, she helped create One Billion Rising, a global protest campaign to end violence, and promote justice and gender equality for women. Her memoir In the Body of the World, published in 2013, has been hailed as “a ravishing book of revelation and healing, lashing truths and deep emotion, courage and perseverance, compassion and generosity.” For her untiring activism and artistic achievements, Ms. Ensler has been honored by such organizations as the Women’s Prison Association, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International, among others. In 2011, she was named as one of Newsweek magazine’s “150 Women Who Changed the World.”