Economist Jeffrey Sachs receives honorary degree, calls Bryant’s blend of business and liberal arts ‘truly pathbreaking’

May 19th, 2012


Jeffrey Sachs receives the hood of the honorary doctor of humane letters from Bryant Vice President for Academic Affairs José-Marie Griffiths during Bryant's 149th Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 19.

SMITHFIELD, R.I. — The blended study of business and the liberal arts that is required of Bryant University graduates is "truly pathbreaking" and "just what society needs," Jeffrey D. Sachs, one of the leading voices for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, told the 864 graduating seniors and their guests during the University's 149th Commencement ceremony held on campus Saturday, May 19.

Sachs, widely considered the leading international economic advisor of his generation, is director of The Earth Institute, a professor at Columbia University, and a special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Bryant before addressing the graduating Class of 2012.

By graduating with an education that has one foot in the business world and another foot in the liberal arts, Bryant students have learned that "business and society walk hand in hand," and that trust, honesty and responsibility need to be as much a part of  business as they are a part of our daily lives, he said. Exemplary business leaders don't lobby at the expense of the rest of society, he said. "They stand up to declare that business is ready to be part of society ... and to champion the values of sustainable development."

Disease, hunger, and challenges imposed by human-induced climate change can be solved when business leaders with a social conscience and technical expertise partner with other sectors of society, Sachs said. As proof, he cited the impressive gains made in the past decade against malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa. The transmission of malaria can be greatly reduced or prevented by the use of bed nets treated with insecticide. Collaborations between several world-class companies that manufacture such nets and governments that made funds available to deploy the nets have significantly reduced cases of malaria.

Sachs was joined by two others who received honorary degrees: Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and CEO of Brooks Brothers Group, Inc.,  received an honorary doctor of business administration; Nia Zolt, co-founder and chief learning officer at ePals, Inc., received an honorary doctor of humane letters.


Keywords: Class of 2012, Commencement, events, Jeffrey Sachs