Posted Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 4:05 PM

2014 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients Announced


On Friday, May 16, Pratt Institute degree candidates will gather in their caps and gowns at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. The procession begins at 1 PM when approximately 1,050 graduating students will file into the main auditorium, where the Institute will celebrate their achievements and confer their degrees. New York Times architecture critic, author, and acclaimed pianist Michael Kimmelman will deliver the commencement address. The Institute will award honorary degrees to Kimmelman, Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman, multi-media artist Yoko Ono, and designer Karim Rashid. Associate Professor of Humanities and Media Studies Ellery Washington will receive the Pratt Institute Distinguished Teacher Award for 2014-2015.

Michael Kimmelman’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of his insightful writings on art, architecture, and culture as a longtime critic and columnist at The New York Times. As architecture critic, Kimmelman has written on issues of public housing, public space, infrastructure, community development, and social responsibility. He served as chief art critic at The New York Times before creating the paper’s “Abroad” column—covering culture, political, and social affairs across Europe and around the world from 2007-2011. Kimmelman, a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, is the 2014 Franke Visiting Fellow at The Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. In March 2014, he was awarded the Brendan Gill Prize from The Municipal Art Society of New York.

Arnold Lehman’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of his leadership as director of the Brooklyn Museum, home to one of the oldest and largest fine arts collections in the nation. As director, Lehman has successfully enhanced the Museum’s relevance and connection to its community through the presentation of innovative exhibitions and reinstallations of the permanent collection. He spearheads highly successful public programs that address the diversity of the collection and the community, actively supports Brooklyn-based artists, and leads an ongoing major capital program that has greatly enhanced accessibility of the Museum and the preservation of its collections. Lehman has served as President of the Association of Art Museum Directors and is Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group of New York City, representing 33 major cultural institutions. He recently served as Co-Chair of the Arts and Culture Transition Committee for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Yoko Ono’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of her achievements as a thought-provoking visionary artist. From her early conceptual pieces to her current solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Ono’s performance, film, musical, and written works engage the active participation of the audience. Ono has been part of New York City’s vibrant avant-garde since the late 1950s, and has performed and exhibited work in some of the world’s most respected concert, gallery, and museum venues including Carnegie Hall, The Whitney Museum, and Japan Society, New York; Serpentine Gallery, London; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt. Noted works include Instructions and the seminal book Grapefruit, and collaborations with John Lennon, John Cage, Fluxus movement founder George Maciunas, and filmmaker Jonas Mekas. She was honored with the prestigious Hiroshima Art Prize for her dedicated peace activism in 2011, and received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009. The artist’s Plastic Ono Band released Take Me to the Land of Hell in 2013—her fifteenth solo recording.

Karim Rashid’s honorary degree will be conferred in recognition of his innovative work as one of the most prolific designers of his generation, with work touching nearly every aspect of the physical and virtual landscape. A legend in the design world and a former Pratt industrial design faculty member, Rashid has more than 3,000 designs in production, 300 awards, and work in over 40 countries. His award-winning designs include luxury goods for Christofle, Veuve Clicquot, and Alessi; products for Umbra, Bobble, and 3M; high-tech products for Asus and Samsung; brand identity for Citibank and Sony Ericsson; and packaging for Method, Paris Baguette, Kenzo, and Hugo Boss. Rashid’s work is featured in 20 permanent museum collections and he exhibits his art in galleries worldwide. He has been honored with the Red Dot award, the Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award, and the IDSA Industrial Design Excellence award. His latest book is From the beginning.

For more information on Pratt’s Commencement, please click here.

Caption (L–R): Michael Kimmelman, Arnold Lehman, Yoko Ono, Karim Rashid