Pomona College names 2023 commencement speakers
Civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and Hall of Fame swimmer Penny Lee Dean, alumna of 1977, will address the 450 graduates of Pomona College’s class of 2023 at spring commencement, Friday, May 14. The college will confer honorary degrees for Ifill and Dean during the ceremony and Trustee Emeritus George E. “Buddy” Moss, alumnus of 1952, will posthumously receive the Trustees’ Medal of Merit.
Information on graduation events is at pomona.edu/commencement.
Ifill is a distinguished civil rights lawyer, voting rights advocate, scholar, and is a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation. She previously spent 10 years as president and director-counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the nation’s premier civil rights law organization.
She graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor’s degree in English and earned her Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2021 by Time Magazine, Ifill is also a recipient of the Radcliffe Medal, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association and the Gold Medal from the New York State Bar Association. She will receive the Brandeis Medal in March.
Dean, one of history’s most prolific marathon swimmers, set a new world record when she swam the Catalina Channel in 1976 with a time of seven hours and 15 minutes, a record still unmatched today. In 1978, she swam the English Channel in seven hours and 40 minutes, 11th in all-time fastest English Channel crossings. During her swimming career she set 13 world records and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1996.
While a student at Pomona, Dean was a six-time All-American before graduating with honors in 1977. She eventually returned to the college to coach and teach for 26 years. She has authored three books on swimming and an autobiography and received the International Swimming Hall of Fame writer’s award in 2014.
Trustee Emeritus Moss will receive posthumously Pomona’s Trustees’ Medal of Merit, a recognition given to persons for outstanding service to the college or who have brought distinction to the institution through their actions or achievements.
A member of the board of trustees from 1995 to 2004, Moss served on several alumni reunion committees and was a dedicated member of the college community. Through his generous philanthropic support, he made possible many programs, including gifts to establish the George E. Moss Community Partnerships Fund, the George E. and Nancy O. Moss Professorship in Economics, the Henry G. Lee ’37 Professorship in Poetry, the Peter W. Stanley Chair of Linguistics and Cognitive Science, and the Roscoe Moss Professorship in Chemistry.