Ithaca College will recognize a longtime educator, a transgender equality advocate, and an arts scholar and administrator with honorary Doctor of Letters degrees. Gloria Hobbs, Mara Keisling and Daniel Weiss will be awarded their degrees at the college’s 2018 Commencement ceremony on May 20.
Born and educated in New York City — she earned her undergraduate degree from Hunter College and master’s from Columbia University in order to teach on the collegiate level — Gloria Hobbs moved to Texas in 1946 to teach young men and women in the historically Black institutions of the South.
With the assistance of two fellowships, in 1962 Hobbs became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from the Department of Foreign Languages at the recently desegregated University of Texas. During this time, she encountered several experiences with racism and was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement, including the housing of the Freedom Riders. In 1966, she took a leave of absence from her academic responsibilities to help create and direct the first Texas Women’s Job Corps Center, which provided thousands of underprivileged young women from all over the country with the skills needed to be gainfully employed and good citizens.
As a linguist and scholar, Hobbs authored numerous articles on topics ranging from French and Spanish literature to the African diaspora, and traveled to francophone and other countries where the languages she taught were spoken. She established scholarships at several institutions and received numerous awards and honors, including having her name on a school in Obuasi, Ghana, the Hobbs Business College. She also was a consultant to the Office of Women in Higher Education of the American Council on Education, an interviewer of doctoral candidates for the Ford Foundation awards, and a judge for the Fulbright-Hays Selection Committee for students to study abroad.
In 1969, she returned to New York as professor of modern languages and associate dean of the City University’s Bronx Community College. She was voted into the Hunter College Alumni Hall of Fame and retired in 1983 as dean and professor emeritus.
In 1972, Hobbs became the first African American elected to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. She has since had a long and deep relationship with the college, including establishing the Gloria Hobbs Scholarship for deserving minority students. She was named an honorary trustee and recognized with the college’s Meritorious Service Award in 1987. She is a charter member of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, the Leadership Council of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Legacy Society of Doctors Without Borders, and a Life Member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She helped to create and served as president of the Community Bridge Home in Queens, NY.
She once went around the world on a freighter, and at the age of 93 Hobbs still travels extensively. She works with various college groups, plays duplicate bridge nationally, volunteers in the neighborhood where she grew up, mentors the young and the old, and remains a strong advocate for marginalized youth in higher education and the workplace.
Mara Keisling is the founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), an organization focused on social justice, education and achieving inclusion and full and equal participation in society for transgender Americans. She has led organizational and coalition efforts that have won significant advances in transgender equality, including the inclusion of gender equity in the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and its successor, the Equality Act.
Keisling was a coauthor of “Injustice at Every Turn,” the groundbreaking 2009 report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted jointly by the NCTE and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, as well as the report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which is the largest study ever of the lives and experiences of transgender people in America.
As one of the nation’s leading voices for transgender equality, Keisling is regularly quoted in national media. Her work is used by researchers, policy makers, elected representatives and health care professionals, and in colleges and universities across the country, including at Ithaca College.
In recognition of her work, she has received awards from a variety of organizations including the Point Foundation, PFLAG, the Equality Forum, GayLaw, the Transgender Law Center and the American Psychological Association. She was selected to take part in the LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and included on Ms. Magazine’s list of “45 feminist women to follow on Twitter” in 2017. Keisling received her bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University and did graduate work in American government at Harvard University.
A distinguished scholar of art history, Daniel Weiss was named the fifth president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015 and added the CEO title in June of 2017. In addition to receiving an honorary degree, Weiss will deliver the 2018 Ithaca College Commencement address.
Founded in 1870, the Met is one of the largest and most diverse art museums in the world, with a collection of approximately two million objects representing more than 5,000 years of artistic achievement. Weiss previously served as the president of Haverford College and Lafayette College, and as the dean of the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where he was also a professor and chair of the Department of the History of Art.
Ithaca College President Shirley M. Collado served under Weiss as vice president for institutional planning and community engagement at Lafayette from 2009 to 2010. He is on the National Board of Directors of The Posse Foundation, a nonprofit organization Collado led from 2001 to 2006.
Weiss has written or edited five books and numerous articles on topics ranging from the art of the Middle Ages to higher education to the Second World War. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Weiss serves on the Board of Trustees of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Board of Directors of the Library of America and Advisory Board of the Yale School of Management. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, an M.B.A. from Yale and a B.A. from The George Washington University.