Saluting the 2024 Centennial Medalists

Four alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are honored.

group of four people standing outside

From left: Martin Duberman, Myra Marx Ferree, Joan Argetsinger, and Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. | Photograph by Tony Rinaldo

The Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal, first awarded in 1989 on the occasion of the school’s hundredth anniversary, honors alumni who have made contributions to society that emerged from their graduate studies. It is the highest honor GSAS bestows, and awardees include some of Harvard’s most accomplished alumni.

Martin Duberman, Ph.D. ’57, History

Martin Duberman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where, as a gay rights activist, he founded the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the first such research center within a U.S. university. An acclaimed historian and playwright, he has written more than 25 books, and won the Bancroft Prize, the Vernon Rice/Drama Desk Award, three Lambda literary awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the American Historical Association. He has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Myra Marx Ferree, Ph.D. ’76, Psychology and Social Relations

Myra Marx Ferree is the Alice H. Cook professor of sociology emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was director of the Center for German and European Studies. She is well-known for her studies of feminist organizations and movements in the United States and Europe, but has also pioneered scholarship on gender inequality within families, and on the intersection of gender with race and class. At Harvard, she was recently an affiliate of the Weatherhead Center’s research cluster on comparative inequality and inclusion, and currently serves as a seminar co-chair at the Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies.

Joan Argetsinger Ph.D. ’68, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, S.D. ’92

Joan Argetsinger Steitz, the Sterling professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale, where she has served as a faculty member for more than 50 years, is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She is recognized for her “bold, fundamental work on RNA biology” that “paved the way for many of the greatest medical breakthroughs emerging today, from mRNA vaccines to personalized medicines for devastating genetic diseases.” She was first to discover RNAs not directly involved in protein assembly, and has made fundamental discoveries about how mRNA binds to ribosomes. At Harvard, she was the first female graduate student in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate James Watson. In 2018, she won the Lasker-Koshland Award, given to the living person considered to have made the greatest contribution to medical science. In 2022, she was awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize in Medicine, “for her fundamental contributions to the field of RNA biology.”

Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Ph.D. ’73, Fine Arts

Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr. is an authority on Dutch and Flemish painting who spent more than 40 years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as curator of Northern Baroque painting. He is also a professor of art history at the University of Maryland. A particular expert in the work of Johannes Vermeer, he is currently senior adviser to the Leiden Collection, one of the largest private collections of Dutch art in the world. The author of numerous catalogs and books on Dutch and Flemish art, Wheelock has been knighted by the Dutch and Belgian governments and been recognized with several lifetime achievement awards.

The award ceremony, with remarks from the medalists, will be broadcast live on the school’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/@harvardgsas/videos) beginning at 12:15 PM on Wednesday, May 23.

Read more articles by Jonathan Shaw

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