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Commencement

Eric Lander and Dan Chiasson at Phi Beta Kappa Literary Exercises

5.2.19

Dan Chiasson and Eric Lander
Photographs from left: courtesy of Dan Chiasson and Casey Atkins Photography/Courtesy of Broad Institute


Dan Chiasson and Eric Lander
Photographs from left: courtesy of Dan Chiasson and Casey Atkins Photography/Courtesy of Broad Institute

The Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will feature Dan Chiasson, Ph.D. ’01, as poet and Eric Lander as orator at the 229th Literary Exercises, the headline event on Tuesday morning, May 28, at Sanders Theatre—beginning Harvard’s annual Commencement celebrations.

Chiasson, the Wang professor of English at Wellesley College, is a poet, poetry critic for The New Yorker, and an essayist and reviewer for that publication and The New York Review of Books. Of immediate interest to denizens of Harvard Square was his recent New Yorker review of the new biography of Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus design school; its centennial is now being celebrated and studied worldwide, including at the Harvard Art Museums. Chiasson’s Poetry Foundation biography appears here. He discussed his work in this recent Sewanee Review interview.

Eric Lander, professor of systems biology, is president and founding director of the Broad Institute, the MIT-Harvard collaboration that is among the world’s foremost centers for genomic research. A geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, he is expert in many of the disciplines on which genomic science is based, and was a principal leader of the Human Genome Project, which first sequenced the entire human genome. Lander also holds an appointment as professor of biology at MIT. He plays a leading role in the Greater Boston life-sciences ecosystem, as reported here and here.

The 2018 Literary Exercises featured poet Kevin Young and paleontologist Neil Shubin.

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Students crowded in University Hall’s Faculty Room, April 1969

Photograph by Daniel Pipes

Scenes from a Tempestuous Spring

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Joe Brett—veteran and Harvard Kennedy School alumnus—addresses Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War. He writes, “I gave them a pin of my old unit, 24th Corps, which happens to be a blue heart on a white shield…or in this case a symbol for peace. We all wept when I gave this out with the words that it was up to us to all work for peace, now that we have met each other as brothers at this memorial…One former Soviet colonel hugged me and, with tears in his eyes, said that all soldiers should be veterans.”

Photograph courtesy of Joe Brett

A plea to address moral injury

Click arrow on right for full image: German President Richard von Weizsäcker, the featured Commencement speaker in 1987—the fortieth anniversary of the historic Marshall Plan address

How Become Harvard Commencement Speaker