Established in 2005 in honor of the college’s 150th anniversary, the Sesquicentennial Award is presented to an alumna/us for a single academic, artistic, or scientific achievement.
It is my great privilege to present this year’s Sesquicentennial Award to Lisa Genova of the Bates Class of 1992.
As you well know, this award, established in 2005 in honor of the college’s 150th anniversary, is conferred in recognition of “a single academic, artistic, or scientific achievement by an alumna or alumnus.”
In the case of Lisa and her New York Times bestselling novel Still Alice, we recognize all three achievements: the academic, the artistic, and the scientific.
When Lisa wrote Still Alice, she had already achieved a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard and had watched her grandmother succumb to Alzheimer’s. In true Bates life-learner fashion, she questioned what her grandmother had experienced during the early stages of her battle with the disease. As a neuroscientist specializing in neurodegenerative diseases, she undertook Still Alice guided by compassion and scientific inquiry — the latter honed at Bates, where she conducted research with Professor John Kelsey for a thesis that received high honors.
Still Alice and the Academy Award-winning film it inspired have changed the global conversation about Alzheimer’s. Rarely has an author so compellingly woven fictional narrative and science to open hearts and minds about an urgent matter of public health and public policy.
Lisa, you are to be commended for having the courage and vision to bring Still Alice to life. Through your work, you bring honor to Bates and life-changing insight to the world.
On behalf of the Alumni Association and the college, it is my honor present you with the 2015 Sesquicentennial Award.