New York University Recognizes Ashoka’s Historic Role

May 12, 2010

Arlington, VA (May 12, 2010) New York University recognized the historic role that Ashoka and its community have played through awarding an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Ashoka CEO, Bill Drayton, in its 178th commencement.  The commencement exercises were held today in Yankee Stadium.  Founded in 1831, NYU is one of America’s leading research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities.  The honorary degrees awarded annually during the NYU Commencement are the highest honor conferred by the university.

The full citation was read by Paul C. Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service, and was conferred by NYU President John Sexton.  The citation read as follows:

"Bill Drayton—native New Yorker, founder, chair and chief executive officer of the global association of social entrepreneurs called Ashoka—you are one of the principal architects of a worldwide and growing engagement of the citizen sector in effecting social change.  You have named, created and pioneered the global field of social entrepreneurship—transforming institutions and improving the lives of millions.  Ashoka, now 30 years old, trains and inspires thousands of extraordinarily talented individuals.  Here at NYU, your example of following a demanding, disciplined path of enlightened public service finds deep resonance—from the NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship, housed at the Wagner School, to the Stewart Satter Program in Social Entrepreneurship at the Berkley Center at Stern.  A scholar of economics, law, and management, you hold degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Yale.  Honorary Fellow of Balliol College at Oxford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, you were selected one of America’s Best Leaders by US News and World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. 

Bill Drayton—you have described a social entrepreneur as someone who cannot come to rest until he or she has changed the pattern in an area of social concern all across society.  Even as you have well earned the right to rest, we know you will never cease your efforts to encourage and enable everyone to be a changemaker.   By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa."

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. This year’s other recipients of honorary doctorates were Alec Baldwin, Robert Max Berdahl, Ursula M. Burns, Wayne Shorter, and William Julius Wilson.

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!

About Ashoka
Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world's working community of leading social entrepreneurs.  It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them to start, grow, succeed, and collaborate on their ventures.  As Ashoka expands its capacity to integrate and connect social and business entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure comprised of global initiatives that supports the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector.  Ashoka is creating change today, for an Everyone a Changemaker™ society to become the reality of tomorrow.

For more information contact:

Tyler Spalding
Ashoka Global Marketing
703.600.8240
tspalding@ashoka.org