One of America’s most celebrated and influential historians, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Ron Chernow, will be the honored guest at the 2012 George Washington’s Birthday Convocation at Washington College on Friday, February 24. Chernow will receive an honorary doctorate and deliver remarks based on his most recent book, Washington: A Life, a biography of the nation’s first president (and Washington College’s founding patron) that earned Chernow the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Biography.
The special Convocation will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, inside the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception in the Underwood Lobby of the Gibson Center.
Ron Chernow has won countless awards for bringing important figures from American history to vivid life on the nonfiction page. His first book, The House of Morgan, won a National Book Award in 1990, and the Modern Library Board selected it as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century. Each of his subsequent books has met with similarly lavish praise and accolades, starting with The Warburgs, a portrait of an influential German-Jewish banking family published in 1993, and followed by The Death of the Banker, a 1997 collection of essays; Titan, his best-selling 1998 biography of John D. Rockefeller; and the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, winner of the first George Washington Book Prize, which is presented by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Mount Vernon to the year’s best nonfiction book written about the Founding Era.
In October 2010, The Penguin Press published Mr. Chernow’s long-awaited biography of George Washington. The 904-page tome racked up an impressive list of awards and honors that culminated with the Pulitzer. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Gordon Wood praised the work as “the best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.” In March 2011, the New-York Historical Society gave the book the coveted American History Book Prize, endowing Mr. Chernow with the honorary title of American Historian Laureate.
A frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Chernow is a familiar figure on national radio and television shows and has appeared in numerous documentaries. He recently served as president of PEN American Center, the country’s preeminent organization of authors. An honors graduate of Yale and Cambridge, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The Birthday Convocation is also the time when the College recognizes the special contributions of an alumnus, a community member and outstanding employees. This year, public relations executive Kevin O’Keefe ’74, president of the Baltimore office of Weber Shandwick, will receive the Alumni Service Award in recognition of the time and expertise he has shared with his alma mater through the years. Educator Molly Judge, head of Chestertown’s Radcliffe Creek School, which serves children with learning differences and has collaborated with the College on special projects related to teacher training, will receive the President’s Medal.
In addition, President Mitchell Reiss will present Distinguished Service Awards to four College employees—Director of Creative Services Diane Landskroener ’76 M’81, Director of Communications Marcia Landskroener M’02, Health Services nurse Carol Thornton, and Business Management professor Terry Scout—to recognize their long and exemplary service to the College.
On Saturday evening, February 25, the College will host its annual George Washington’s Birthday Ball, a formal affair that further celebrates the life of the Father of the Country. In 1781, General Washington gave his name and 50 guineas to the founding of the College at Chester, now Washington College. He also served on the first Board of Visitors and Governors and, in 1789, three months after becoming President of the United States of America, accepted an honorary degree from the College.
For more information on Convocation and Birthday Ball, please visit http://www.washcoll.edu/birthdayball/.