Ithaca College Awards Honorary Degree to Actress and Activist CCH Pounder
ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College has awarded an honorary degree to one of its most distinguished alumni, actress and activist CCH Pounder. She was presented with a Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the dedication ceremony for the college’s newest building, the Athletics and Events Center.
A 1975 graduate of the college, Pounder has numerous theater, film and television credits and is a cofounder of the nonprofit organization Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) and board member of the African Millennium Foundation.
The honorary degree citation pointed out that she has not only excelled in her chosen profession, but has also reached out to others “in profound and life-changing ways, exemplifying the essential Ithaca College values of intellect, creativity and character.”
Pounder has appeared in such films as “Avatar,” “Prizzi’s Honor” and “Bagdad Café,” and among her numerous television credits are four roles that earned her Emmy Award nominations: Claudette Wyms on the police drama “The Shield,” Dr. Angela Hicks on “ER” and guest appearances on “The X-Files” and “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”
She and her husband, Boubacar Kone, founded the Musee Boribana in Dakar, the only contemporary art museum in Senegal. In Los Angeles, they established the Pounder-Kone Artspace, providing a place for dozens of artists to come together in exploring, creating and sharing their work. She received personal recognition from Nelson Mandela for her work with ANSA promoting freedom and social justice.
“Realizing the power of film-based media to influence and define the self-image of your audience, you have sought out opportunities to play strong, intelligent, capable women, stepping away from roles that emphasize victimhood and exploitation,” noted the citation. “Your years of devoted work on behalf of public health, social justice and the creative arts have saved lives, supported freedom and enriched the human experience.”
For her part, Pounder delivered her acceptance remarks with self-deprecating humor and modesty.
“Ithaca College not only provided an excellent acting program, but afforded a pretty well-rounded education and made me more than just another pretty face…It is with great humility that I thank all my professors from this institution. What I learned here in many ways has become the foundation for what I do in the real world.”
In 2010, Pounder was chosen to deliver the college’s Commencement address. She had previously spent a week on campus as a Visiting Multicultural Fellow and had joined with other drama alumni to support a Los Angeles showcase at which senior theater students performed before a group of casting directors, managers and agents.