2003 Honorary Degree Recipients and Commencement Speakers Nancy Daly Riordan Richard J. Riordan

2003 Honorary Degree Recipients and
Commencement Speakers
click on the names below to view bios or on “remarks” to view speeches.
Nancy Daly Riordan, Honorary Degree Recipient (remarks)
Richard J. Riordan, Honorary Degree Recipient (remarks)
Paul Zak, Associate Professor of Economics, Commencement Speaker (remarks)
Jill Gold Wright, Student Speaker (remarks)
James A. Turrell, Distinguished Alumni Service Award Recipient (remarks)
Nancy Daly Riordan
Nancy Daly Riordan, whose philanthropic work spans three decades, is well known for her work as a
children’s rights activist. She is founder of United Friends of the Children, a nationally recognized
organization formed in 1980. UFC supports programs for foster children at Los Angeles County’s
MacLaren Children’s Center; educational programs for children and youth in the foster care system;
and the development of low cost transitional housing, career training and counseling, tutoring and
scholarship programs for emancipated foster youth.
In 1984, Daly Riordan lobbied for and was instrumental in the creation of the Los Angeles County’s
Children and Family Services Department and Commission. She served as a member of the
commission from its inception until June of 1999 and chaired the commission for two separate terms.
She also worked to establish the county’s Family Preservation Program and Committee.
In 1993, the Mayor of Los Angeles appointed Daly Riordan to chair the Committee on Children, Youth
and Families. This committee’s report, “LA4KIDS,” served as a blueprint on how the city could better
serve its children. Daly Riordan is co-founder of the Children’s Action Network, which sponsors an
ongoing series of educational briefings for the entertainment industry with nationally recognized
children’s experts, and which also serves as a clearinghouse for the industry on children’s issues. The
Network has developed national campaigns for immunization and childhood hunger; it is currently
developing a campaign to increase the adoption of children from the foster care system.
On the national level, Daly Riordan was appointed to the President’s Commission on Children in
1989. The Commission’s report, “Beyond Rhetoric,” served as a basis for more than fourteen bills in
Congress. In 2002, President Bush invited Daly Riordan back to the White House for his signing of
the re-authorization of the Safe and Stable Families Act, which she had been instrumental in creating
during the Clinton Administration.
Daly Riordan has a long history of lobbying in Sacramento and Washington D.C. on behalf of foster
children. She helped pass legislation to increase funding for health and mental health services for
emancipated youth in California. In 2001, she was successful in lobbying for a bill signed by the
Governor to create an internet passport for health and education for foster youth.
Daly Riordan chaired the Getty House Foundation, which manages the official residence of the Mayor
of Los Angeles, from 1993 to 2001. In 1993, the Foundation completely refurbished the Getty House
and continues to provide after-school programs to Los Angeles school children. Yearly, the
Foundation grants cash awards to schools that have demonstrated improvement and excellence in
She was recently appointed as co-chair of the Advisory Council of the Universal Access to Preschool
Including Early Care and Education Initiative, one section of the strategic funding initiatives identified
by the Los Angeles County Children and Families First Proposition 10 Commission, also known as
First 45 LA.
Remarks by Nancy Daly Riordan
Thank you so very much. I LOVE Claremont. How lucky all of you are to be sitting here today.
Congratulations. I think if I were one of you sitting here I may have come in through Pitzer College
with its emphasis on training teachers for early childhood learning and getting them on a fast track
into the classroom. As co-chair of the Universal PreSchool effort in Los Angeles, this kind of focus on
early childhood learning is critical to the success of our effort.
My parents could only afford to send one child to college and decided that between my brother and
me, he would go to college and I would go to a two-year secretarial/business school. Believe me, I
am thrilled that I had this training because it lead to great jobs, and I learned how to type which
comes in so handy now in the age of computers. I can only imagine how proud my parents would be
today that through the foundation in life they gave me, they laid the groundwork that has led to my
receiving this Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
Over the years, I did take a variety of college courses taught by some very good professors.
However, I believe my most important professors were the people I identified as wise and gifted and
had something that I wanted or needed to add to my development. As I look back now, I realize that I
chose these people as mentors at different phases of my life.
My dearest friend, Joanne Agoglia, who is here today, taught me a style of mothering that embraced
the notion of unconditional love, complemented with an overwhelming amount of hugs, kisses,
celebrations of life, humor, excitement and emotion. Her guidance helped me rear and nurture three
more of my Professors, my daughter Linda, and my sons Bobby and Brian. They can be pretty tough
teachers at times.
There are a few other Professors who are with me each and every day of my life, although they are
no longer physically in this world. Vivien Weinstein, Donald Cohen, Margarita Mendez, Kathy Clifford
Beard. These four wizards taught me the lessons of tenacity; open-mindedness; grace, courage,
confidence in the face of strong community criticism; self-criticism, self-confidence and strength when
confronted with the fear and realities of dying.
They helped me understand the privilege we have to make a difference each and every day of our
lives and that ensuring the joyfulness of children, our own, our grandchildren, the children of the
nation and our world is the true meaning of life.
My newest and most cherished Professors are my own grandchildren, Leo, Julianna, Quinn, Jessica,
Liz and Nicole. I learn more about myself each and every moment I spend with them.
If I were to give you any advice today it is to seek out and recognize the wizards you encounter as
you go through life; listen to them, watch them, follow their advice and keep them on your shoulder
And, of course, I stand here, today, next to a brilliant Professor and wizard who has enriched my life
immeasurably. He is truly my soul mate, mentor, and partner. He fills up my life with his unconditional
love and support. I am so very proud to share this incredible honor with him today.
So, I count my blessings, that I have lived to this moment in time when I can stand here before you,
and with utmost gratitude tell you this is one of the happiest and proudest moments in my life. Thank
you so very much.
Richard J. Riordan
Richard J. Riordan served as thirty-ninth mayor of Los Angeles from June 1993 to June 2001. As
mayor, Riordan focused his efforts on making Los Angeles safer, creating quality jobs throughout the
city, making government more efficient, making neighborhoods healthier, and reforming the public
education system.
During his first term, he created the Mayor’s Alliance for a Safer Los Angeles, a public/private
partnership that raised $16 million to computerize records and information for the Los Angeles Police
Department. With technology as a tool, police officers are able to spend less time behind desks and
more time protecting and serving Angelenos.
Riordan’s reform efforts changed the way Los Angeles does business. As a means to create
economic opportunities, Riordan made international trade a top priority. In 1997, he created the
International Trade Initiative to enhance Los Angeles’ position as a world leader and location for
international trade in the twenty-first century.
Riordan’s focus on healthy neighborhoods led to community-based action throughout the city. The
mayor’s Volunteer Bureau saves city taxpayers more than $30 million each year by mobilizing more
than 30,000 community-spirited volunteers throughout the Los Angeles area. He also created the Los
Angeles Neighborhood Initiative, a community-based effort designed to improve transit-dependent
areas and established one dozen Targeted Neighborhood Initiatives that give citizens a say over
community issues.
Riordan devoted his second term to the challenge of providing quality education for all children. The
mayor strongly believes that every child deserves the tools to compete in society: reading, writing,
and problem-solving skills. Riordan launched “Read to Me,” a city-wide reading program that
encourages parents and caregivers to begin reading to their children at an early age, in 1998. Long
before his first election, he was actively involved in education issues, creating the Riordan Fellowship
and Riordan Scholars programs, which fund college-level business studies for high school students.
He is a founding member of the acclaimed LEARN effort and of BEST (Better Educated Students for
Tomorrow), a nationally recognized after-school program serving more than 5,000 children in Los
Angeles’ disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Riordan graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with an undergraduate degree in philosophy,
and he served in the Korean War as a field artillery lieutenant for the U.S. Army. Following an
honorable discharge, he earned his law degree at the University of Michigan.
Remarks by Richard J. Riordan
Thank you very much, President Upham, and faculty…mucho gracias. They say behind every great
woman is a strong man. While watching my wife, Nancy, work ten to twelve hours every day on
behalf of children who have been dealt a bad hand in life, quite honestly has worn me out. But I am
humbled and honored to stand with her today at this great institution. It is truly a great honor to
become part of this great university. Claremont Graduate University and its alumnus represent the
best our world has to offer. You are joining an elite group of leaders. You have truly been given the
tools to do great things for society.
I believe every child that comes into this world has a God-given right to the tools to compete in the
world, equality education and quality health care. Yet in California alone, over seven million people
do not have health insurance. This is outrageous! In the large cities of America, a poor six year old
has only a 12 percent chance to read and write at the eighth grade level by the time they are 18 years
old. This makes Nancy and I truly angry and should make you even angrier, so angry that you will go
out and do something about it.
The secret of success in life can be wrapped up in two words: courage and giving. Courage implies
fear, for after all, how could you be a hero unless you’re afraid? Only a fool can approach difficult
situations without fear that they will fail. So just do it. Do it in little things to start out with, like getting
up in the morning, starting exercise, starting your term papers; or big things, like changing careers.
Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, “Every great accomplishment in business or government starts out with
a courageous act by only one human being.” Giving - it is the best cure for depression. It’s getting
outside of yourself. It can also start with little things like befriending the class nerd, mentoring a poor
child, or a big thing like giving $10 million to Claremont Graduate University.
So let me close by repeating that each of you has been given the tools to be great. Use them well.
Never stop questioning and learning. Don’t let fear stop you from acting. Be courageous every day.
Remember the words of the Rabbi Hillell who said, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” The “now” is
now; the “me” is each and every one of us.
Thank you very, very much for this wonderful honor. Thank you.
Paul J. Zak
Paul J. Zak is Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the
Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak also serves as
Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and is a Senior Researcher at
UCLA. He has degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University, a Ph.D. in
economics from University of Pennsylvania, and post-doctoral training in neuroimaging from Harvard.
His new book “Moral Markets: The Critical Role of Values in the Economy” appeared in 2008 from
Princeton University Press. Professor Zak is credited with the first published use of the term
"neuroeconomics" and has been a vanguard in this new discipline that integrates neuroscience and
economics. He organized and administers the first doctoral program in neuroeconomics in the world
at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak's lab discovered in 2004 that an ancient chemical in our
brains, oxytocin, allows us to determine who to trust. This knowledge is being used to understand the
basis for modern civilizations and modern economies, improve negotiations, and treat patients with
neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
Remarks By Paul J. Zak
Why are we here?©
Why are we here? Besides today's graduation, why are we at this university? Why do we live in
cities? In a country with a freely elected government and a massive industrial economy? Research by
my lab, the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, and several other labs around the world are
beginning to identify the neurophysiological processes that have led to the extraordinary success of
the human species.
I will briefly report some of these facts to you, but I'll give you a hint of the punch line: it all boils down
to family. Indeed, it is significant that many graduates today have gathered their families together with
the CGU extended family to share this momentous occasion.
Our story begins 100 million years ago with fish living in primordial oceans. Nature had to
manufacture a way that fish could at most times be fearful of other fish who might eat them for dinner,
but allow some conspecifics, at some times, to get close enough for sexual reproduction. Yes, our
story starts with fish sex! Sex is important because it permits greater species diversity and therefore
adaptation to changing environments. The solution to the "how to get fish to have sex" problem was
an ancient hormone called vasotocin. This hormone still facilitates fish reproduction.
Through millennia, this hormone was hijacked and modified for other purposes. Nature is
conservative, and would rather modify a known mechanism than start from scratch with something
new. One mammalian variant of vasotocin is called oxytocin. Oxytocin facilitates birth through uterine
contractions, and initiates milk production for the feeding of offspring. In some mammals, such as
prairie voles and humans, oxytocin also facilitates pair bonding. In these highly monogamous
species, raising successful offspring is facilitated when there are investments from both parents.
Researchers have recently demonstrated that the neural architecture utilizing oxytocin in
monogamous vs. promiscuous mammals is different.
Monogamy actually changes your brain! Your brain is also changed by your earliest interactions with
your mother. Mammals deprived of mother-love (or a suitable substitute), do not develop normal
cognitive or social skills, are emotionally stunted, are sick more often and die younger. The first
intimate relationship in your life is with your mother (can you think of any football players who say "Hi
Dad" to the TV cameras?). The lateWisconsin psychologist Harry Harlow showed in the 1960s that
baby monkeys strongly prefer a cloth-covered surrogate mother that provides no food to a wire-mesh
surrogate with food. Similarly, human children crave parental love, for this literally constructs their
minds. So, Fact 1 is that parental care is critical for brain development.
Oxytocin also permits us to "attach" temporarily to other human beings, even ones who we don't
know. Nearly all humans (with the exception of sociopaths, most autistics, and others with severe
mental disorders) feel empathy when they see others suffering. The standard biological view is that
we should only care about those with whom we share a substantial number of genes. Clearly this is
not how humans behave, and much of this is driven by oxytocin.
If you take two unrelated hungry rats and put them in a cage with food, typically a brutal fight will
erupt until the dominant rat eats its fill. Yet hungry humans will queue (mostly) patiently at restaurants,
sometimes for hours, without fights. More generally, the ability of humans to temporarily attach to
each other permits us to live in large societies with other mostly unrelated humans. In fact, many of
us like the excitement of living in big cities.
The oxytocinergic attachment mechanism was essential to the development of civilization in theFertile
Crescent 10,000 years ago because it facilitated the formation of large-scale societies. Large
societies permit individuals to specialize in tasks, become highly productive in these tasks, and
generate surplus resources that can be used for investments in people and the creation of machines.
More generally, Cort Pedersen at the University of North Carolina School ofMedicine has argued that
the complexity of social living, enabled by human attachment mechanisms, is the evolutionary source
of human intelligence. Recent work by my lab shows that human intelligence is strongly related the
size of one's "social brain". These brain regions-the hippocampus and amygdala-are the only areas
known to produce new brain cells in adult primates, including humans. Fact 2 is that oxytocin and
social living are the sources of human intelligence, and social intercourse rewires your brain,
even as an adult.
Modern industrial economies require that groups of unrelated individuals work in the same location,
take direction, mostly avoid violence, and forego current consumption to achieve future goals. We are
a social species because our brain is designed for social tasks, tasks that often utilize neuroactive
oxytocin. Cooperation in groups requires that we understand what other human beings are doing, and
in particular, that we trust others.
Oxytocin is a "feel good" hormone, for example, rising during sex, while eating, and when one is
caressed. My lab has recently shown that when a person observes that someone wants to trust him
or her, oxytocin surges. More simply, people are trustworthy because it "feels right." It is not that we
are selfless, but that we are designed to respond to social cues. My team also showed that humans
are largely unaware of the neurologic response to social cues, but that they nonetheless affect our
actions. Fact 3 is that oxytocin is part of our social guidance system that permits us to rapidly
evaluate the trustworthiness of other people.
While trust affects us many ways in our daily lives, it also affects entire economies. In research
published recently, I showed that poor countries are poor primarilybecause trust is low. Indeed, trust
is among the most powerful factors affecting economic growth that economists have ever found. So,
Fact 4 is that sufficient interpersonal trust is necessary to raise poor people's standards of
Trust levels fundamentally reflect the underlying social-political-legal and economic fundamentals of a
society. My lab has also recently shown that biological factors in a country affect trust levels. For
example, countries in which there is more socializing have higher trust. The biological jargon for this
is "repeated non-noxious stimuli" raises oxytocin.
My group also found that environmental conditions that affect hormones influence trust levels.
Countries with dirty environments--particularly those with an abundance of "xenoestrogens" (synthetic
estrogen-like molecules such as are found in the pesticide DDT and many pollutants) have lower
trust. (A bit more biology: roughly speaking, estrogen increases the uptake of oxytocin by brain cells,
and estrogen antagonists do the opposite). We also find that the consumption of phytoestrogens
(plant-based estrogens found in soy beans and other legumes, broccoli, tea, wine, and many other
foods), is strongly related to trust. So, Fact 5 is that environmental conditions affect hormones,
trust, and therefore the prospects for economic development.
OK, by raising trust we can help alleviate poverty--that's exciting. So, how do we do this? My team
examined a variety of government policies that might raise trust. We find a number of policies raise
trust by promoting positive social interactions, for example, by raising the number of telephones in a
county. But, to be effective, such policies must raise incomes more than they cost to implement. We
find only a few policies do this. Leading the pack is education. For the countries we analyze, it costs
less than $500 per person to keep every child in school for an additional year. Because the effect of
education on trust, and trust on income growth is so strong, average income will increase more than
$2,500 per person if education increases by one year-that's a 400% return on investment! We also
find that reducing income inequality is a cost-effective trust promoter, as are increasing civil liberties
and freedom of association. So, Fact 6 is that trust levels respond to government policies, and
most importantly, to education.
I began this talk by asking why we are here. We are here because humans are a nurturing and caring
species. We are here because for generations as a species we have cared for the young, and cared
for each other. As we celebrate today's graduates for their diligence and desire, we must also praise
their parents for their important contribution to their children's success. If you remember one thing
from today, I hope it will be this: We are truly designed to be our brothers' and sister' keepers,
and in caring for others we make brains and indeed ourselves better, too.
Jill Gold Wright
During her tenure at Claremont Graduate University, Jill Gold Wright earned a Doctor of Philosophy
and a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in American literature and world drama. Her
dissertation explores Jewish composers and lyricists in American musical theater. She has also
written numerous drama reviews for the CGU Drama web page.
Gold Wright has a passion for teaching. She believes that the great messages contained in literature
have the ability to transform the awareness and experiences of students, particularly those who have
never been touched by the greatness of literature. She teaches to change lives, by exposing
students to controversial perspectives, engaging discussions, and a world of new ideas. She has
been twice honored as an Outstanding Teacher by Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society. Gold Wright
is a tenured professor at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California.
Remarks by Jill Gold Wright
Good morning, President Upham, Board Members, Faculty, Administrators, Fellow Students and
On behalf of the graduating students here today, I would like to welcome you to the end of the race;
indeed, you all have great seats at the finish line. I believe I speak for all CGU graduates when I say
that, today, we look back on the last few years with great pride: not only in what we have
accomplished academically, but in how much we have grown in other ways. We are stronger and
more resolute than we ever knew we would become when we first began our journey into graduate
You see, in the beginning, students seem to believe that graduate school is utterly separate from real
life, and, in a way, it is. We spend leisurely days, sitting in comfortable chairs for hours at a time. We
spend long afternoons listening to and challenging each others' arguments, and, although we never
have all the answers, we always leave the classroom with original ideas to consider and new ways to
We are fortunate not to share the frustrations of our non-grad-school friends, the nine-to-fivers who
have only a few stolen minutes at the water cooler in which to reach out to their colleagues, trying to
understand and solve the complexities of life, before their Styrofoam cups are empty. We have the
great privilege-even if it doesn't always feel like one-of spending hours in the library, poring over more
books than we will ever reallyhave time to read, delving deeper into the fields we love.
But at some point soon, our utopia is blindsided by real life concerns. These are not always negative,
but they are always enormous demands on our time. We have jobs, and bosses who expect us to be
great. We are adjunct professors, freeway flying to every college in a 100-mile radius, scurrying from
one class to the next. We are full-time professors, struggling to meet the demands of our five classes
and our tenure committees while still trying to complete our coursework, our qualifying exams and our
dissertations. We are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, wanting so
much to meet the needs of our families, while we secretly struggle with the reality that after dinner, or
story-time, or bedtime, we will have more to read and prepare before tomorrow morning's seminar.
We become stressed out; we are tired, we look for shortcuts, and people around us say that we're
crazy to try to do it all. Our work colleagues look at us knowingly and tell us that we'll drop out, the
way they did. Our pay scales tell us that this additional degree won't make much of a difference
anyhow. Our friends wonder why we don't return their calls like we used to. And our families miss us,
asking us to take just one afternoon off to enjoy a picnic instead.
These pressures become colossal stumbling blocks that can nearly cripple us. In my own race, the
obstacle came very early on. When I began graduate school, my dad was in the hospital with cancer.
I became my own kind of freeway flyer; I would leaveClaremont the moment class was over to visit
him, bringing along my reading assignments so I could try to get through a chapter while Dad took a
nap. The day my dad slipped into a coma was the one non-school day I was not there. With my new
Claremont friends, I was attending a conference about King Lear. I listened to paper after paper about
the relationship between fathers and daughters. I couldn't have imagined that by the end of the day, I
would become the Lear figure in Act Five, howling myself, mourning the death of my partner.
I was only six weeks into my master's program, and I had a choice. I had barely begun; it was not too
late to turn back onto the path of least resistance. But I knew what my dad would have wanted me to
do; I needed to continue on.
In this race, we all learn how to balance our obstacles and stay on track. We become long-distance,
endurance runners.
Today, we celebrate that determination and stamina-the motivation we all found somewhere inside of
us to stay in the race. We ran and we ran, and now, we sit here at the finish line, only barely having
caught our breath-and our hearts begin to slow their pace at last.
We made it-and we are proud, but we are not done. Henry David Thoreau writes, "If you have built
castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations
under them." This day may mark the completion of our celestial castles, but their foundations have yet
to be built.
Jewish liturgy charges, "You and I can change the world," and we must start immediately. In
everything we do, direct and indirect, we must help to improve our world. We must tell of everything
we have learned in these halls. We must disseminate our knowledge to every corner of the globe.
With that knowledge, we must eradicate ignorance and injustice. We must use our skills, our ideas
and our motivation-everything that our presence here proves that we have-to change this world today.
Together, we must design, build and reinforce that foundation under the castle of dreams, so that it
can stand as a stronghold in pride and in peace. Not one of us is free from this responsibility. Not one
of us.
Tonight, go out and enjoy this well-deserved celebration. Tonight, sleep more easily and deeply than
you have in the last few years of your life. Tonight, rest long and dream big. The saving of the world
starts tomorrow.
Remarks by James A. Turrell
Graduates, I now welcome you as alumni of CGU. And to those who graduated in art, which is, of
course, dear to my heart, all this work, all this sacrifice, your parents’ money, now you can go off to a
poor section of the town and get your studio. God, I envy you. I have to say that you really are
privileged and that you have earned this privilege with your work. You honor yourself with this
degree. And, of course, I welcome you as a fellow alumnus of CGU, and you’re a very distinct
society. Only thing is that at this school there is an amazing physical plant, a very beautiful setting,
amazing facilities and excellent teachers. But I want to have you look at each other and realize that
it’s the peers who have a lot to do with what has happened to you and what will happen to you now.
I’m proud to say that I am an alumnus of CGU, and I’m very proud of you and your work. So with this
privilege, bear these gifts that you have received in added trust for this world, and use this privilege
knowing that you can really go out and achieve. There are many others from this school like I who
have achieved, and we all welcome you to this group. Congratulations.