Yale Awards Highest Honor to Bill Drayton

Monday, May 25, 2009 - Today Yale University awarded Ashoka Founder and CEO Bill Drayton an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at its 308th Commencement. These few honorary doctorates are Yale's highest honor and are at the center of the annual graduation ceremony. Past recipients include Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Sandra Day O'Connor.

The full citation read by Yale President Richard C. Levin upon conferring the degree is as follows:

"You have defined and perfected the role of social entrepreneur, helping people around the world help themselves. As the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, you have sought creative solutions to the most pressing social problems. By guiding and supporting the work of more than 2,600 Ashoka Fellows, you are advancing economic development, environmental sustainability, public health, and human rights, and helping to build institutions that ensure continued progress. In your quest to abolish sorrow, we rejoice, and gratefully award you your second Yale degree: Doctor of Humane Letters."

The degree was conferred upon Bill Drayton in recognition of Ashoka's continued work to create and build the field of social entrepreneurship and its central contribution to a world where everyone, not just an elite few, can be powerful changemakers. Earlier this year Oxford University similarly recognized Ashoka in making Bill a life Balliol Honorary Fellow. This year's other honorary degree recipients were Hillary Rodham Clinton, Richard Serra, John McPhee, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Alison Richard, Sofia Gubaidulina, Leroy Hood, Thomas Schelling, and Bill T. Jones.

About Bill Drayton

William Drayton, a leading social entrepreneur, has spent his career enabling people around the world to help themselves.  He is the Founder, Chair, and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a global citizen group that has fostered entrepreneurial programs since 1980 in fields including economic development, social awareness, environmentalism, health, and human rights. In a career that has embraced higher education, business consulting, and government service, he has consistently devoted himself to social causes, and currently chairs three U.S.-based organizations: Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working!