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International Voice in Human Rights is Simmons College Commencement Speaker

John Prendergast to Deliver May 19 Simmons College Commencement Address

BOSTON (April 25, 2007) — One of the world's leading voices in bringing attention to the shameful and sobering atrocities in Sudan and other African nations will deliver the Simmons College commencement address Saturday, May 19, at the Bayside Exposition Center in Boston.

John Prendergast, senior adviser of the International Crisis Group, will speak at 10:00 a.m. before 1,000 newly minted Simmons college graduates. The ICG is a non-profit organization that scouts out geopolitical conflicts such as terrorism in Indonesia, power struggles in Afghanistan, and Balkan border disputes, and then issues reports that offer crucial intelligence, analysis, and solutions.

Prendergast, formerly an adviser in the White House and U.S. Department of State, is known for speaking frequently and powerfully about inhumanity in Africa's war-torn nations.  He is author of eight books on Africa, much of the material for which was gathered during numerous trips, some illegal, across various borders.

In some countries, his denunciation of local dictators has made him unwelcome:  Sudan, where he is now banned; and Zimbabwe, where he was arrested, beaten, and thrown out of the country.  He is embarking on a fact-finding mission in Chad, and is contemplating his sixth illegal trip since 2003 across the border to canvas Darfur refugees for their opinion on the peace deal.

Prendergast is also known for his ability to convene disparate groups with a common mission. He helped form the Save the Darfur Coalition to unite human rights activists, members of humanitarian causes, and faith-based charities.  He also brought the private sector into his causes, preparing an anti-genocide campaign with the founders of Timberland, eBay, and Lion's Gate Films.  He has produced three 60 Minutes segments on conflicts in African regions, appeared on ABC's Nightline, and has been quoted extensively by most of the nation's major newspapers and magazines.

In late 1996, Prendergast was appointed by President Clinton as director of African affairs at the National Security Council.
During the Simmons commencement ceremony, Simmons Board of Trustees Chair Lucia Luce Quinn and President Susan C. Scrimshaw, Ph.D.,  will award honorary doctoral degrees to Prendergast and to:

•    Brigadier General Dana H. Born, Ph.D., the highest-ranking psychologist in the U.S. military and the Air Force Academy's first female dean of faculty.

•    Dr. Josephine Morello Butz, a 1957 Simmons College graduate whose work paved a groundbreaking path in the field of microbiology; former director of clinical microbiology laboratories at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

•    Dr. Nancy Yuk-Yu Ip, a 1977 Simmons graduate and director of the Biotechnology Research Institute at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  Ip is an internationally recognized neuroscientist whose discoveries have shed new light on neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

•    Dr. Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the university library at Harvard University.

Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university in Boston.  It includes an undergraduate college for women and graduate programs for women and men in social work, health studies, management, library and information science and the liberal arts.