Mora '74, Storr '72, and Wise '67 to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement

Nancy Nicely

Alberto Mora '74, Robert Storr '72, and
Phyllis Wise '67 to Receive Honorary
Degrees at Swarthmore's 136th Commencement

by Nancy Nicely
05/08/2008

President Alfred H. Bloom will award honorary degrees to Alberto Mora '74, former general counsel of the Department of the Navy, Robert Storr '72, dean of the Yale School of Art, and Phyllis Wise '67, a renowned researcher and provost and executive vice-president at the University of Washington, at the College's 136th commencement on Sunday, June 1. About 350 seniors are expected to graduate at the ceremony.

Alberto Mora '74

Alberto Mora '74

While serving as general counsel of the Department of the Navy from 2001 to 2005, Alberto Mora '74 demonstrated consistent and principled opposition to U.S. government policies that permitted the application of cruel and inhumane treatment to detainees taken captive by the United States during the war on terror. Upon hearing rumors in late 2001 that detainees at Guantanamo were being subjected to harsh interrogation in possible violation of U.S. laws and values, Mora - who had no official oversight responsibilities for detainee operations or activities at Guantanamo - chose to investigate the allegations. Discovering that the abuses were indeed taking place and had been authorized by the Secretary of Defense, he led a successful campaign within the Pentagon to rescind the authorization of the cruel interrogation practices. Subsequently, following the Abu Ghraib scandal, Mora actively opposed the administration's policy of cruelty during the balance of his tenure at the Navy and upon his return to the private sector. For these efforts, Mora received the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in 2006, as well as other awards.

Mora graduated from Swarthmore with honors in English literature in 1974. He then entered the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and served at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon and in Washington. Following his graduation from the University of Miami School of Law in 1981, Mora entered the practice of law, specializing in litigation and international corporate and commercial law. In addition to his service with the Departments of State and the Navy, he was appointed by the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations to two other high-level foreign policy positions in the federal government. Currently, Mora is vice president and general counsel of the International Department of Wal-Mart Stores, where he supervises the legal affairs of the company's international retail and global procurement businesses.

Robert Storr '72

Robert Storr '76

Robert Storr '72 is dean of the Yale School of Art and a leading figure in the art world. His career spans both practice and theory. Storr began as a painter and exhibited his work in some of New York's finest galleries. He has also taught classes in both art and art history at numerous institutions such as the Institute of Fine Arts at N.Y.U., the Rhode Island School of Design, Temple University's Tyler School of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania. Last year, he was named director of the Venice Biennale exhibition, the world's oldest and most prestigious exposition of international contemporary art. In addition to his current post at Yale, Storr also serves as Consulting Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Storr, whose parents both earned degrees from Swarthmore in the 1930s, graduated with high honors in French and history in 1972. He went on to study painting at the Boston Museum School and Harvard University, ultimately receiving an M.F.A. in Art from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1978.  

Phyllis Wise '67

Phyllis Wise '67

Phyllis Wise '67, a renowned researcher and provost and executive vice-president at the University of Washington (UW), is widely cited for her pioneering work on estrogen and how it affects neurodegeneration, learning, and memory. Twice a recipient of a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health, she also has been honored for her research and teaching excellence by the American Physiological Society, the Endocrine Society, and the National Institute on Aging, among others.

At UW, Wise runs the academic and budgetary sides of one of the top public research universities in the country. She also serves on the faculty of the school's College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine.

Wise graduated from Swarthmore with a B.A. in biology in 1967. She later earned masters and doctoral degrees in zoology at the University of Michigan and pursued a Ford Foundation post-doctoral fellowship there as well. Wise served on the faculty at the University of Maryland-Baltimore for 16 years before her role as chair of physiology at the University of Kentucky. Prior to coming to Washington, she was dean of biological sciences at the University of California-Davis. Her son Andrew is a member of Swarthmore's Class of 1992.