Amitav Ghosh, Mark Pigott, Rachel Martin ’96, James Walton Receive Honorary Degrees

April 10, 2014

Class of 2014 Commencement Ceremony
2–4:30 p.m., Sunday, May 18

TACOMA, Wash. – University of Puget Sound will award honorary degrees to four exceptional individuals at the 2014 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18. The four honorands, who have excelled in their professional fields and in public service, are named below, with fuller biographies following.

Amitav Ghosh is an internationally acclaimed writer, professor, and winner of numerous literary awards, whose work explores the nature of national identity. His book Sea of Poppies, about life in Calcutta and on the Ganges River, was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.

Rachel Martin ’96 is a former National Public Radio national security correspondent and current host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. A Puget Sound graduate, she has reported on critical social and political issues in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Mark C. Pigott, KBE, executive chairman of global truck-maker PACCAR, was named one of Harvard Business Review’s top 50 CEOs in the world in 2009. He is a prominent business leader, philanthropist, supporter of the arts in the United States and abroad, and an advocate for higher education and environmental stewardship.

James L. Walton, former Tacoma city manager, is a respected civic leader and pioneer. He was a leader in the 1960s civil rights movement and a founder of Tacoma’s Black Collective. He has spent a lifetime advocating for improved health services, education, and equality for people in the region.

Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas will present Ghosh and Martin with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees, Pigott with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, and Walton with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Rachel Martin will be the Commencement speaker. The Class of 2014 Commencement Ceremony will be held in Baker Stadium on campus, Sunday, May 18, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“The achievements of these four individuals have the common thread of promoting human dignity, of surpassing expectations, and of inspiring others to support important causes,” said Thomas. “It is our pleasure to be able to recognize Amitav Ghosh, Rachel Martin, Mark Pigott, and Jim Walton for their meaningful lives of accomplishment.” Read on to learn about some of the contributions and previous recognitions of the honorands.

Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh is an internationally acclaimed writer and author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and Sea of Poppies, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008. Born in India, Ghosh currently splits his time between Goa and New York. His work, which explores the nature of national identity, has garnered numerous literary awards and been translated into more than 20 languages. Ghosh also has written for The New Yorker, New Republic, and The New York Times. He has been a fellow at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta, and Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum, India. In 1999 Ghosh joined the faculty at Queens College, City University of New York, as distinguished professor of comparative literature. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard University since 2005. Ghosh was educated at St. Stephen's College, Delhi; Delhi School of Economics; and University of Oxford.

Rachel Martin ’96
Rachel Martin ’96 began her career at public radio KQED in San Francisco, and later served as NPR’s foreign correspondent, reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq, London, and Berlin. Prior to hosting Weekend Edition Sunday, from fall 2012, Martin was NPR national security correspondent, covering defense and intelligence issues, and traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan. She began reporting from Afghanistan in 2003, and has covered everything from the U.S.-NATO fight against the insurgency to women’s issues in the military and in the Middle East. As a foreign correspondent for NPR and for ABC News (2005–07), she covered the London terrorist attacks, German federal election, and 2006 World Cup. Martin also reported on the changing demographics of the U.S. military, including the debate over whether women should fight in combat units and the repeal of the “don't ask, don't tell” policy. While serving as NPR's religion correspondent (2006–07), her piece on Islam in America was awarded Best Radio Feature by the Religion News Writers Association. Martin graduated from Puget Sound in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in politics and government and earned a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University. 

Mark C. Pigott, KBE
Mark Pigott is a business leader and philanthropist. Currently executive chairman of PACCAR, he is the fourth generation of the Pigott family to lead the world’s third-largest maker of medium-and heavy-duty trucks, headquartered in Bellevue. Wash. He was named by Harvard Business Review as one of the top 50 CEOs in the world in 2009 and as Washington State CEO of the year in 2003. He is also among this region’s most prominent philanthropists and advocates for higher education and the fine arts. Pigott has supported environmental stewardship and promoted innovation and quality control, leading to new aerodynamic designs and hybrid vehicles at PACCAR. For his business and philanthropic leadership he was awarded Knights Cross of the Order of Merit (Hungary), Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and numerous honorary degrees. At University of Puget Sound, the PACCAR Foundation supported the construction of Harned Hall and Wyatt Hall, in addition to funding an endowed scholarship and faculty research in the sciences. Pigott graduated from Stanford University with two bachelor’s degrees in industrial engineering and humanities, and a master’s degree in business.

James L. Walton
James L. Walton was Tacoma’s first African-American city manager, and has earned a reputation as a distinguished citizen, public servant, human rights activist, and volunteer. Walton entered public service in 1970 as director of Tacoma’s Human Relations Department, and rose to city manager in 2003. His leadership has been critical in addressing issues of equality, in establishing health programs for the underprivileged, and in encouraging and rewarding student achievement in our community. A leader in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, he attended San Diego Community College, University of Puget Sound, and Tacoma Community College, establishing himself as one of the core leaders of the African-American community and one of the founders of Tacoma’s Black Collective. He continues to contribute to community businesses, government, education, and the arts.

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