Educator and social worker Geoffrey Canada has been selected to deliver the University’s 256th Commencement address on May 14. Since 1990, Canada has been the charismatic leader of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), an organization dedicated to combating poverty and providing educational and social services to New York’s Harlem community. His innovative work in the field of education reform was depicted in the award-winning 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman. He was also named to the 2011 Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people. Under Canada’s leadership, HCZ provides pre-school and after-school programs, healthy-living programs, and employment and technology workshops to more than 11,000 children and 7,400 adults. Because of its success, it has become the template for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods program.
Along with Canada, six other outstanding individuals will receive honorary degrees at the ceremony: David H. Petraeus, the current director of the CIA; John R. Lewis, US Representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District; Ruzena Bajcsy, Penn Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Engineering; biochemist Akira Endo, whose pioneering research paved the way for the development of statin drugs; Peter D. Lax, a theorist of pure and applied mathematics and emeritus professor at New York University; and award-winning actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.
—Elizabeth Slivjak C’13