Commencement is the pinnacle event for Carleton College, a celebration of student achievement and recognition of why the college exists. Consequently, significant time and effort is invested in planning for the commencement ceremony and all of the events leading into it.
The 145th Commencement festivities will begin on Friday, June 14 with a variety of activities for graduates with their families and friends. The Commencement ceremony, which will also be live-streamed, will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 15 on the lawn west of Hulings Hall with seating to accommodate all guests. If weather conditions make it not possible to hold the ceremony outdoors, the ceremony will take place inside the Recreation Center.
Following President Poskanzer’s opening remarks, two graduates will address the Class of 2019, families and friends, and faculty. In addition, Carleton College will confer an honorary doctorate degree upon distinguished diplomat Jimmy Kolker ’70, who will also give a brief address.
Ambassador Jimmy Kolker retired in January 2017 as Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role, Kolker was the Department’s chief health diplomat, representing the United States at World Health Organization meetings and as alternate Board Member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Kolker had a 30-year diplomatic career with the US Department of State where he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso (1999-2002) and to Uganda (2002-2005). From 2005-2007, he was Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator in the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, leading the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Kolker was Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassies in Denmark and Botswana and won awards for political reporting at earlier posts in the UK, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
From 2007-2011, Ambassador Kolker was Chief of the AIDS Section at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. During this time, he led UNICEF’s work on HIV and AIDS, focusing on mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, pediatric treatment, prevention among adolescents and young people, and protection for children and families affected by AIDS.
Since retiring from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kolker has continued to be active in the causes of global health, Africa, and diplomacy – which he believes need more advocacy and public attention than ever – through several affiliations. He has been a visiting scholar with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, working on science diplomacy, and in 2018 published an article in the journal Science and Diplomacy 2018).
Ambassador Kolker has been co-teaching a graduate level course on global health policy at the Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security. He is a member of the high-level commission on health security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He also serves as board chairman of ABinBev Foundation, working on effective evidence-based for approaches to combat harmful uses of alcohol worldwide); board member of the Firelight Foundation, supporting grass-roots groups promoting early education and protection for vulnerable children in eastern and southern Africa); and board member of Building Tomorrow, an NGO building and improving the quality of primary schools in Uganda.
Kolker is an advisory committee member of Last Mile Health, an NGO supporting community health workers and universal health coverage in Liberia, and an advisory committee member with Texas Children’s Hospital Global HOPE, establishing pediatric cancer treatment centers of excellence in eastern Africa. Through the Washington Urban Debate League, he has been a volunteer judge and assistant debate coach in District of Columbia public schools. He speaks French, Swedish, and Portuguese.
Kolker grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Government from Carleton College in 1970. After graduating, he spent a year traveling to Chad, Uganda and Ghana on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Kolker earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. In 2001, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Carleton Alumni Association and was the Opening Convocation speaker in 2010.
It is with great pleasure that Carleton College confer on Ambassador Kolker the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
As always, the Commencement ceremony is not a ticketed event, and the public is invited to attend.