Skip to main content

Leo Braudy '63, F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III '66, and Carol Padden Named 2016 Honorary Degree Recipients

President Valerie Smith will award honorary degrees to film critic and cultural historian Leo Braudy ’63, ecosystem ecologist F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III ’66, and world-renowned scholar and advocate for deaf communities Carol Padden at the College’s 144th commencement on May 29, 2016. In addition, approximately 350 undergraduates will receive degrees at the ceremony in Scott Outdoor Amphitheater.

Leo Braudy ’63 - Doctor of Humane Letters

Leo Braudy '63An author and scholar, Leo Braudy ’63 is one of America's foremost film critics and cultural historians.

Braudy is currently University Professor as well as Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California (USC), where he teaches courses on Restoration literature and history, American culture after World War II, popular culture, and film.

He is the author of nine books and editor or co-editor of eight anthologies, including the forthcoming eighth edition of Film Theory and Criticism, the most widely used and cited anthology of critical writings about film since its publication in 1974. He is also the author of more than 100 articles and essays on a wide variety of subjects, popular as well as academic.

Braudy's first book, Narrative Form in History and Fiction: Hume, Fielding, and Gibbon (1970), as the philosopher Hayden White remarked, “stood virtually alone” in its groundbreaking effort to compare narrative and story-telling techniques in historiography and fiction. In the late 1960s, he helped pioneer film studies as a respected academic discipline. In 1972, Jean Renoir: The World of His Films was a finalist for the National Book Award, while his next film book, The World in a Frame: What We See in Films (1976), is still in print and used in classrooms. Braudy's The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (1983), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was instrumental in establishing the field of fame studies. In 2003, From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity was named Best of the Best by the Los Angeles Times and a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times. Later this year, his 10th book, Haunted, a study of the cultural shapes of fear from the Reformation to the present, will be published by Yale University Press.

Braudy is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. His work has appeared in such journals as American Film, Film Quarterly, Genre, Novel, Partisan Review, and Prose Studies. He has also written for the The New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, an online journal of which he is a founding board member.

While at Swarthmore, Braudy acted in The Bald Soprano, King Lear, and the Hamburg Show, won the Poetry Prize, and had his one-act play staged. After he graduated with highest honors in English literature, Braudy earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He taught at Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins before joining the faculty at USC.

F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III ’66 - Doctor of Sciences

Terry Chapin III '66F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III ’66 is an ecosystem ecologist whose research addresses the sustainability and resilience of ecosystems and human communities in a rapidly changing planet.

Chapin is a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and former principal investigator of the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research program. His research emphasizes the impacts of climate change on ecology, subsistence resources, and indigenous communities as a basis for developing climate-change adaptation plans.

Throughout his career, Chapin’s work has received numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979-80), the Kempe Award for Distinguished Ecologists (1996), and the U.S. Forest Service Wilderness Research in Sustainability Science Award (2008), among others. Chapin is the only Alaskan to hold an appointment to the National Academy of Sciences, which he achieved in 2004. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

Chapin’s teaching and dedication to students has also drawn accolades. In 2000, he was awarded the Usabelli Award, which is given to the top researcher in all fields at the University of Alaska. In 2002, students selected Chapin as the outstanding faculty member at the University of Alaska. He was also awarded the Dennis Demmert Award for support of native Alaskan students in 2011 and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Chapin graduated from Swarthmore with a degree in biology and earned his Ph.D. in biological sciences at Stanford University. Much of his research is done in collaboration with his wife Melissa "Mimi" Carroll Chapin '66. They continue activities and interests developed at Swarthmore including the Outing Club, orchestra, chorus, and civil rights.

Carol Padden - Doctor of Humane Letters

Carol PaddenCarol Padden is a world-renowned scholar best known for her pioneering work on the language and culture of deaf communities.

Born in Washington, D.C., as the second deaf child of deaf parents, she attended a school for the deaf on the campus of Gallaudet University, where her parents were both faculty members. In third grade, she transferred to a public school and remained through high school, an experience she described as being “educated abroad.” That experience of moving back and forth between different worlds, and communicating across cultures, informed her research interests.

Padden's research focuses on the structure and evolution of sign languages and cultural life in deaf communities. She and her husband, Tom Humphries, co-authored two landmark books in deaf studies, Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988) and Inside Deaf Culture (2005), and two textbooks on American Sign Language. In 2010, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant," for “demystif[ying] sign language and open[ing] windows of understanding regarding how languages evolve over time and the role of language in building and maintaining communities.” Other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1992 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa in 2015.

Padden has a long association with Swarthmore. Over the years, she has mentored students and continues to advise Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli on both courses and campus events on deaf issues. Padden also gave the keynote address at the Tri-Colleges Signs and Voices Conference in 2004 and at Swarthmore's Deaf Around the World Conference in 2008.

Padden earned a B.S. in linguistics from Georgetown University in 1978 and a Ph.D. in linguistics in 1983 from the University of California, San Diego, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Communication and holds the Sanford I. Berman Chair in Language and Human Communication. In 2014, she was named UC San Diego’s Dean for the Division of Social Sciences, an academic division that spans 10 departments, six interdisciplinary programs, and numerous research centers. An advocate for deaf communities, Padden is active in promoting research on sign languages around the world and in shaping policy and practices that promote the full participation of deaf people in society.

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing