University to award three honorary degrees during 2014 commencement

man holding CWRU diplomaRenowned international mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas, a 1984 graduate of Case Western Reserve’s School of Law, will give the university’s commencement address during ceremonies Sunday, May 18, at the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

Chambas’ diplomatic career has involved roles in helping resolve the 1990s Liberian Civil War and the Ivory Coast Civil War that followed a few years later. Most recently, he served as joint chief mediator overseeing the Darfur peace negotiations for the African Union and United Nations. In addition to offering remarks to graduates, Chambas also will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Joining Chambas in accepting honorary degrees are award-winning poet, human rights activist and literary critic Marjorie Agosin, and celebrated sculptor and print artist Claes Oldenburg.

“Each of these individuals has contributed immensely to our understanding of the human spirit and the opportunities to achieve a better and more enriching life for all,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “Their impact on their respective fields, and on our larger society, is as impressive as it is admirable.”

The university grants honorary degrees at spring commencement each year to recognize excellence in human endeavor, including scholarship, public service and the performing arts. Additional details regarding each of the recipients follows:

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Honorary Doctor of Laws

Chambas, who entered government in 1987 as Ghana’s deputy foreign secretary, holds a doctorate from Cornell University and also is an accomplished academic. As Ghana’s deputy minister of education from 1997 to 2000, he oversaw policies and accreditation for five universities and 10 polytechnic and agency and institutions.

His long and distinguished career includes working for a time in the United States, where he taught government at Oberlin College and practiced law with the Cleveland office of Forbes, Forbes and Teamor.

Marjorie Agosin, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Agosin is The Luella LaMer Slaner Professor in Latin American Studies at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass. Born in Maryland and raised in Chile, she and her parents fled to the United States during dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s coup of the Chilean government.

Agosin, who is considered among the most versatile and provocative writers of her generation, has received a leadership award from the United Nations, the Gabriela Mistral Medal for lifetime achievement from the Chilean government, and the Fritz Redlich award from The Global Program on Refuge and Trauma of the Harvard Medical School, which recognized in her poetry the power to heal through language.

Claes Oldenburg, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Oldenburg grew up in New York and Chicago. He established himself as a sculptor and artist in the 1960s with radical works in several directions such as “Pop Art” and “soft sculpture.”

Oldenburg, working with his wife and partner, the late Coosje van Bruggen, completed 44 site-specific sculptures in architectural scale for cities in the United States, Europe, Japan and Korea, including the Free Stamp in downtown Cleveland in 1991.

The campus community may submit honorary degree nominations at any time. For a description of qualifications visit: