B.U. Bridge
Honorary Degree Recipients
Week of 31 May 2002 · Vol. V, No. 34

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This year's honorary degree recipients

Michael E. Haynes
Doctor of Humane Letters

"Your pulpit at Twelfth Baptist Church is among the nation's most storied. From its lectern rose the voices of freedom's staunch defenders: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But for 37 years on nearly every Sunday, your words -- sometimes stern, sometimes lyrical, but always filled with ebullient hope -- have called your congregation to the life sublime." -- From honorary degree citation

As senior minister of Roxbury's Twelfth Baptist Church, the Reverend Michael E. Haynes has for five decades dedicated himself to saving souls and inspiring young people to pull themselves out of poverty. An evangelist known for his social consciousness as well as for his fiery sermons, he has served as a bridge between evangelical Christians and more liberal church groups around the nation, often traveling to discuss with fellow clergy the hardships faced by people in other nations and leading international pilgrimages and study tours.

Haynes, 75, began his career counseling troubled teenagers at several Boston-area community centers beginning in the 1950s. "Haynes pulled at-risk men from the streets and became an integral part of their lives," the Boston Globe wrote in a 1992 profile. "They are now surgeons, presidents of school boards, high school principals, journalists, policemen, lawyers, political aides, FBI agents, former UN officials, bankers. They are everything young black men growing up in Roxbury are not expected to become. But Haynes worked a magic."

A Roxbury native and a graduate of Boston English High School, Haynes earned a bachelor of arts in theology in 1949 from the New England School of Theology in Brookline, Mass. He then attended Shelton College in New York City, earning a graduate degree in mission and clinical services in 1950. For the next three years, he studied at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass.

He joined the clergy of the Twelfth Baptist Church in 1951, serving as youth minister, associate minister, and from 1964 to the present, as senior minister. The 850-member parish is known for its youth programs, including an eight-week summer day camp. It also features a food pantry and offers for rent 14 units of affordable housing in Roxbury that it purchased and rehabbed more than two decades ago.

For three terms, beginning in 1965, Haynes represented Roxbury and the South End as a Democratic state representative, pushing to reduce crime and violence. He also served on the Massachusetts Parole Board from 1969 to 1985.

In addition, Haynes has been a member of the city of Boston Mayor's Committee on Violence and the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Drug Addiction. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. His honors include the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society Award for Distinguished Achievement in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University, the Cambridge Branch NAACP Award, and several honorary degrees.
Haynes has two sons, Randy and Abdi, and is a grandfather.

William F. Russell
Doctor of Humane Letters

"In 13 seasons of punishing the Tennessee oak of the Boston Garden, you came to embody the fullness of Celtic pride. The greatest champion in basketball history, the greatest team player of all time, you triumphed without throwing an elbow, with your temper in check, and with your integrity an armor that no slur or slander could pierce. As we huddled to watch you on crackling black-and-white TVs, you taught us how to balance individual achievement with the collective will to win." -- From honorary degree citation

Bill Russell accepts his honorary degree from Jon Westling. Photo by Albert L'Étoile


Bill Russell accepts his honorary degree from Jon Westling. Photo by Albert L'Étoile


Bill Russell was born in 1934 in Monroe, La. In 1943, his family moved to Oakland, Calif. He was the school mascot at McClymonds High School before he made the basketball team in the 10th grade, but didn't become a starter until his senior year. After graduating in 1952, he tried out for the University of San Francisco team and was given a scholarship. In the classroom, he studied business administration; on the court, he quickly distinguished himself as a defensive center. He was named the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player in 1955 after grabbing 25 rebounds in USF's victory over La Salle for the national championship, and the USA Player of the Year in 1956. During those two years, his team had 55 straight wins and garnered consecutive NCAA championships.

Russell rejected an offer to play with the Harlem Globetrotters and opted for a spot on the 1956 U.S. Olympic basketball team, which won the gold medal in Melbourne, Australia. He joined the Boston Celtics that year, establishing his rebounding prowess by averaging 19.6 per game and helping the Celtics win their first NBA title. He was named an NBA All-Star for 12 years and the NBA's Most Valuable Player for 5 years. In his 13 years on the parquet floor of the Boston Garden, the Celtics won 11 NBA championships.

At the end of the 1965-1966 season, Arnold "Red" Auerbach retired as Celtics head coach and made Russell the new head coach. He coached the Celtics from 1966 to 1969, joined the Seattle SuperSonics as coach and general manager from 1973 to 1977 -- leading the team to its first-ever playoff berth -- and worked with the Sacramento Kings for the 1987-
1988 season.

Russell's basketball legacy lies in what he accomplished while wearing the Celtics uniform. "I played because I enjoyed it," he once said, "but there's more to it than that. I played because I was dedicated to being the best. I was part of a team, and I dedicated myself to making that team the best."
Toward the end of his basketball career, Russell wrote a syndicated column and was a network sports announcer and television commentator. He penned his autobiography, Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man, in 1979, and discussed the qualities that led to his basketball success in last year's Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership from the Twentieth Century's Greatest Winner. He lectures widely on how to include his 11 lessons in the business world.

Russell serves on the Board of the National Mentoring Partnership, which provides resources and training for community-based groups that offer mentoring programs to young people. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974, voted the Greatest Player in the History of the NBA by the Professional Basketball Writers Association of America in 1980, and named to the NBA 25th, 35th, and 50th Anniversary All-Time Teams.

He has a daughter, Karen, and is married to Marilyn Nault.

Marisa Tomei
Doctor of Fine Arts

"Your inexhaustible invention and sympathetic intelligence as an actor have peopled our stage with remarkable women and enlarged our movies with unforgettable lives. . . . you have established yourself as one of America's most versatile actors, on television, in the movies, and on stage -- in ensemble and in etching unerring portraits of individuals." -- From honorary degree citation

Suzanne Cutler, a BU trustee and executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, escorts Marisa Tomei to the podium to receive an honorary degree. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

  Suzanne Cutler, a BU trustee and executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, escorts Marisa Tomei to the podium to receive an honorary degree. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Marisa Tomei was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1964. When she was 12, her grandmother took her to see A Chorus Line, and Tomei fell in love with the magic of the theater. During her teens, she studied acting and dancing and spent summers performing in plays at the Golden Bridge Colony in upstate New York. She graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School in 1982, then attended CFA for a year before leaving in 1983 to pursue an acting career.

She started out with a one-line role in the movie The Flamingo Kid (1984) -- "You're so drunk!" -- then had an 18-month stint in the television soap opera As the World Turns. She moved to Los Angeles for her prime-time debut as one of Lisa Bonet's roommates in The Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World. Her off-Broadway stage debut, in Daughters in 1986, won her a Theatre World Award. Years later, in 1998, she made her Broadway debut in the thriller Wait Until Dark.

Tomei had small roles in other films, but it was her memorable portrayal of Joe Pesci's sassy fiancée, automotive expert Mona Lisa Vito, in My Cousin Vinny (1992) that earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She won the Oscar in a category she shared with Vanessa Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, and Judy Davis. She also won an MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Performance for her role in My Cousin Vinny.

Tomei played a variety of comic and dramatic roles after her Academy Award victory: a waitress romanced by Christian Slater in Untamed Heart (1993) -- for which she and Slater won an MTV Movie Award for the best movie kiss -- a manic, abused mother befriended by Gena Rowlands in Unhook the Stars (1996), and an idealistic do-gooder in the war-correspondent film Welcome to Sarajevo (1997). She recently appeared in What Women Want (2000) and In the Bedroom (2001), for which she received a second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Whether playing comedy or drama, Tomei stays true to her cardinal acting rule. "I think it's just good to keep it real, whatever it is," she says. "Just go for reality whatever genre it is, and that's what will work."

Tomei is affiliated with New York's Blue Light Theater Company and the elite Naked Angels Theater Company, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and Lili Taylor.


31 May 2002
Boston University
Office of University Relations