WALLA WALLA – Whitman College today announced the names of its two 2010 honorary degree recipients — James K. Hayner, an attorney and trustee emeritus; and Juan Williams, an author, journalist and national media personality.
They will accept the honor at Whitman’s Commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 23, at 11 a.m.
Hayner is well-known to residents of the area. By receiving the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, the Walla Walla native follows in the footsteps of his mother, Jeannette Hayner. A former two-term Washington State representative and four-term state senator, she received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1992 from Whitman.
Jim Hayner recently stepped down from the Whitman Board of Trustees after serving for more than 25 years (1985–2010) — the longest tenure of any trustee in Whitman history — including a term as board chair, 2002-2004. His fellow trustees unanimously elected him to the status of trustee emeritus in recognition of his remarkable service. He also served Whitman as a member of the Board of Overseers, from 1978 to 1985.
A 1968 graduate of Walla Walla High School, Hayner attended Whitman for one semester before earning his bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in 1972 with Highest Honors. He was honored at WSU with the Wall Street Journal award for the top Economics/Business graduate, and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. He holds a JD from Stanford University, where he was a member of the Editorial Board for the Stanford Law Review. In 2002 he received the Walla Walla High School Graduate of Distinction Award. He is president/attorney at Minnick-Hayner, one of the oldest law firms in Washington. Founded in 1891, it has six attorneys. Hayner specializes in real estate, banking, corporate and commercial law, estate planning and renewable energy.
Hayner is a trustee of several philanthropic organizations, including the Blue Mountain Community Foundation (also, he is chair of its Investment Committee), the Joseph Stubblefield Trust, the Bonnie Braden Foundation, and the Clifford Braden Trust. He is a former trustee of the WSU Foundation and former president of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Juan Williams, who also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, will deliver the Commencement address. Renowned for bringing insight and depth to a wide spectrum of issues and ideas, Williams is an author and journalist with a diverse background of experience. He is a senior correspondent for National Public Radio, a regular panelist on FOX Broadcasting’s Sunday morning public affairs program and anchor of the network’s weekend daytime live news coverage. He also has appeared on numerous television programs, including ABC’s “Nightline,” PBS’ “Washington Week in Review” and “Oprah.”
A Haverford College graduate and trustee, Williams spent more than 20 years at The Washington Post, serving as an award-winning editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House correspondent. He is an Emmy award winner for television documentary writing and has achieved widespread critical acclaim for a series of documentaries including, “Politics: The New Black Power” and “A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom.”
Williams has written six highly regarded books on the state of the nation, including the nonfiction bestseller “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965,” the companion volume to the critically acclaimed television series. “This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience,” and most recently “Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America — and What We Can Do About It.” He also has written numerous articles for such national magazines as Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, Ebony, GQ and The New Republic.
Click here for a list of past Whitman honorary degree recipients, dating back to 1890.