Former Secretary of State General Colin L. Powel will give the commencement address to Franklin & Marshall College students. He and four other individuals distinguished in community service, human rights, medicine and sustainable agriculture will receive honorary doctorates at the 2009 commencement ceremony.

Honoree degrees will be awarded to:


Colin L. Powell Commencement Speaker and Doctor of Humane Letters 

Former Secretary of State Colin L Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank of four-star general. He was Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from December 1987 to January 1989, serving under President Ronald Reagan. His last assignment, from Oct. 1, 1989, to Sept. 30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this time, he served under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm.

Following his retirement from military service, Powell wrote a best-selling autobiography, My American Journey. In 1997, he founded America’s Promise Alliance, a charitable organization committed to providing children with the fundamental resources they need to succeed.

In 2000, he was tapped by President George W. Bush to be the 65th Secretary of State, a position he held from January 2001 to January 2005. During his years of service at the State Department, he played a critical role in building an international coalition to wage the war on terrorism.

Now retired from public life, Powell is a strategic limited partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm. At his alma mater, the City College of New York, he founded the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. The Center’s mission is to develop a new generation of publicly engaged leaders. He is also helping to raise funds for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., and for the construction of an education center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign military awards and decorations. His civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal. Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor, and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country.

Born in New York City, Powell is the son of Jamaican immigrants. He was educated in the New York City public schools and he graduated from the City College of New York, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology. Upon graduation in 1958, he received a commission as an Army second lieutenant. He served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. After returning from his second tour of duty, Powell earned a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University in 1973. 

Deborah Bial, Doctor of Humane Letters 

Deborah Bial started the Posse Foundation in 1989 after a promising student told her that, despite having a scholarship, he had dropped out of school after only six months. “If I had my posse with me,” he said, “I never would have dropped out of college.”

Posse has changed the lives of hundreds of urban high school students by preparing them for higher education and guiding them toward successful careers. Posse identifies students of promise from urban public high schools to form multicultural teams called “posses.” Following an intensive, year-long recruitment and pre-college training program, the teams enroll at top-tier colleges and universities. In addition to New York, where Posse is headquartered, there are program sites in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Colleges partner with Posse to identify promising students who would not be found through standard recruiting methods. They award four-year, full-tuition merit scholarships to each Posse Scholar. Once enrolled, Posse students often hold leadership positions on campuses and are particularly adept at improving cross-cultural communication.

“For 20 years, Posse has worked to secure the best educational opportunities for talented youth throughout the country,” says Bial. “As they graduate from top institutions and take on positions in the work force, they will become the diverse leadership network that is crucial to our country’s growth and prosperity. Their successes becomes our collective success.”

Franklin & Marshall College has partnered with Posse for four years. The College’s first Posse class will graduate in May.

“The investment that Franklin & Marshall and President John Fry have made in the lives of Posse Scholars is invaluable," Bial said. "We are extremely grateful to count the College among our partner institutions and truly applaud its dedication to access and excellence in higher education.” 

Myles Brand, Doctor of Humane Letters 

During his six years as president of the NCAA, Myles Brand has ushered in the most comprehensive academic reforms for intercollegiate athletics in the association’s history. The reforms were designed to refocus the attention of student-athletes, coaches and administrators on the education of the athletes.

“Some athletic teams need to improve their academic performance,” Brand said in a 2005 interview. “It is not acceptable to be mediocre if you’re a student athlete. A team wouldn’t settle for mediocrity in a game, so student athletes shouldn’t settle for mediocrity in the classroom.”

His tenure also has helped re-establish the role of university presidents in the governance of college sports. Brand served as president of Indiana University from 1994 to 2002 and was president of the University of Oregon from 1989 to 1994. He earned his bachelor of science in philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1964 and received a doctorate in philosophy degree from the University of Rochester in 1967. His other administrative posts have included: provost and vice president for academic affairs at Ohio State University from 1986 to 1989; coordinating dean at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona from 1985 to 1986; dean of the faculty of social and behavioral sciences at Arizona from 1983 to 1986; director of the Cognitive Science Program at Arizona from 1982 to 1985; head of the department of philosophy at Arizona from 1981 to 1983; and chairman of the department of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1972 to 1980. He began his career in the department of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1967, and taught at Pitt until 1972.

Brand has also served on the board of directors of the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the American Philosophical Association, and the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development. 

Thomas G. Phillips III '54, Doctor of Humane Letters

Thomas G. Phillips III '54 is Trustee Emeritus of Franklin & Marshall College, a member of the College's Board of Visitors and chairman of The Phillips Group, the largest independent office products and services provider in central Pennsylvania. Phillips served his alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2005.

One of his most enduring contributions to Franklin & Marshall College has been his dedication to the arts. In 1996, he made the first in a series of gifts to create the Phillips Museum of Art. His support has been critical in positioning the College to make a viable case for accreditation of the museum. He continues to support the arts here through the Friends of the Phillips Museum and as a member of the Board of Trustee's Art Collection Committee.

Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Franklin & Marshall. He was a member of the men's varsity swim team and is a Chi Phi fraternity brother. His love of swimming and his commitment to Franklin & Marshall's athletes led him to support the construction of the McGinness swimming pool in the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center.

In addition, Phillips has supported efforts that ensured the renovations of the William H. Hackman Physical Sciences Laboratories and the construction of the Ann & Richard Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building. Phillips received the Alumni Medal in 2006.

Headquartered in Middletown, The Phillips Group has more than 250 employees working in three divisions: office furniture, office supplies and office technology. Phillips serves on the corporate board and is joined in the company's management by his wife, Virginia, the secretary of the board, their son, Peter, who serves as president and treasurer, and their son, David, who serves as vice president.

A resident of Lebanon, Pa., Phillips has been an exemplary community leader and active volunteer and philanthropist. He has served on the board of directors for the Cornwall Lebanon School Board and the Lebanon YMCA.

Richard D. Winters ’41, Doctor of Humane Letters

Richard D. Winters ’41 is the famed World War II commander whose bravery, leadership and military strategy were detailed in Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers. Born in Lancaster and raised in Ephrata, Pa., Winters graduated from Franklin & Marshall with a degree in business. Enlisting in the U.S. Army, he received officer training, volunteered for paratrooper training and was assigned as a platoon leader of Company E (Easy Company) of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. During training, Winters was named executive officer of Easy Company.

On June 6, 1944, Easy Company participated in the allied invasion of Normandy. The commander of Easy Company was killed during the invasion, and Winters took command. The first day of battle, he led 13 men on an attack that destroyed a battery of German artillery at Brecourt Manor that had been firing on Utah Beach. The attack is still taught at the military academy at West Point. For his actions at Brecourt Manor, Winters was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army’s second-highest award for combat valor. Winters rose in rank to captain after Normandy.

In December 1944, the 101st Airborne was called upon to defend the town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and, following the battle, Winters was promoted to the rank of major and was given command of 2nd Battalion. In the last days of the war, Easy Company captured Hitler’s Eagles Nest.

In a 2004 interview with American History Magazine, Winters was asked what made a good leader. “You maintain close relationships with your men, but not friendship,” he said. “You have mutual respect for one another, but yet you have to hold yourself aloof, to a degree. In leading groups effectively, you have to rise above camaraderie. You have to be fair to everyone. Everyone must know that they are treated equally.”

Following the war, Winters worked for the Nixon Nitration Works in New Jersey as personnel manager, before being reactivated during the Korean War to train infantrymen and Rangers with the U.S. Army. After his second period of military service, Winters sold animal feed to farmers throughout Pennsylvania. He and his wife Ethel raised two children and eventually retired to Hershey, Pa.

Winters became an icon of “The Greatest Generation” through exposure from Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers and an HBO miniseries based on the book. Winters was the subject of the book Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers, published in 2005. The following year, Winters’ own memoir, Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters was published.