Wofford to Receive Honorary Doctor of Laws

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 13, 2011

At Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 20, an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be awarded to Harris L. Wofford Jr. Wofford has served his country for more than 60 years, volunteering for the Army Air Corps in World War II, getting involved in the Civil Rights Movement, serving in the U.S. Senate, and helping to develop the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Wofford was an adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., served as counsel to the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and was Special Assistant for Civil Rights to President Kennedy. With Sargent Shriver, he helped to launch the Peace Corps. In 1962, he became Director of Ethiopia’s  Peace Corps program and was a Special Representative to Africa before becoming Associate Director of the Peace Corps.

He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago; he earned an L.L.B. first from Howard University and then from Yale University. He taught law at the University of Notre Dame Law School and was President of the State University of New York at Old Westbury from 1966-70 and of Bryn Mawr College from 1970-78.

He was appointed to the Senate after the death of Sen. John Heinz in 1991 and then won the seat by election. Wofford played a key role in legislation establishing the Corporation for National Service, including AmeriCorps, and with Rep. John Lewis he authored the act establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. President Clinton appointed him CEO of the Corporation for National Service in 1994, and he advised President Obama on the development of a comprehensive service and social innovation agenda, including the growth of AmeriCorps.

Wofford has written numerous articles on national service, Ghandi, civil disobedience, civic engagement, education and politics. His books include Of Kennedys and Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties.