WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., will present the Whitman College commencement address Sunday, May 25.

Commencement ceremonies at 11 a.m. will honor approximately 350 candidates for bachelor of arts degrees. The program, held in front of Memorial Building on Boyer Avenue, will include welcoming remarks by Whitman College President Tom Cronin, and the presentation of special faculty awards as well as certificates of merit to two secondary school teachers nominated by members of the senior class.

Schlesinger, who is remembered by many Americans for his years as special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, for history in 1946 and for biography in 1996; he also won the National Book Award in 1966 and again in 1979. He is the author of 16 books including the bestsellers "The Imperial Presidency," "Robert Kennedy and His Times," "The Cycles of American History," and "A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House." His most recent is his autobiography, "A Life in the 20th Century: I, Innocent Beginnings" (2000). He is also editor of various works including "Paths to American Thought" (1963) and "Running for President" (1994).

Born in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 15, 1917, Schlesinger was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, where he graduated summa cum laude in history in 1938. He was a Henry Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, in 1938-39 and a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard from 1939 to 1942.

During World War II, he served in the Office of War Information, then overseas in the Office of Strategic Services; he was also in the United States Army. In 1946 he was appointed associate professor of history at Harvard, working his way to full professorship by 1954. In 1948, he served as Averell Harriman's special assistant in Paris in the first months of the Marshall Plan. In 1952 and 1956 he served as a member of Governor Adlai Stevenson's campaign staff. He was appointed special assistant to President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and served in the White House throughout his administration.

In 1966, Schlesinger was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; he then became the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at the Graduate School of the City University of New York, retiring in 1996.

Schlesinger has been active in other aspects of public life, as well, serving as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1981-84), co-chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute from 1983 to the present, a member of the advisory board of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America (named for his parents), and a trustee of the Twentieth Century Fund since 1959.

The father of five children, he has been married to Alexandra Emmet since 1971.


Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156
Email: parishlj@whitman.edu