Citation for Geena Davis
Presented by Trustee Alison R. Bernstein P’09
President Hansen, I am honored to present Geena Davis.
We cherish artists as the people who show us a mirror, reflecting essential truths of the human condition. Actors literally embody these truths, and through the work of Geena Davis many of us have seen and thus understood the true power of innocence, wisdom, dignity, desire, generosity, resilience against tough odds, and the sheer sparkling joy of being alive.
We know Ms. Davis as many different characters, from the soap opera actress she played inTootsie to America’s first female commander in chief. Her catalogue of films includes many that are emblematic of our times, and she received an Academy Award in 1988 for her work in The Accidental Tourist.
Ms. Davis often portrays women who make their worlds better, and the real-life Geena Davis is herself such a woman. Observing the disproportionately low number of female characters in children’s television programming, she became concerned about the messages the media send to young people. To address this issue, she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring academic research into gender representation in the media, especially in children’s entertainment.
For the brilliance of her acting and the passion of her activism, for the lessons we learn from the stories she tells, and for her determination to see women share the screen equally with men, I present Geena Davis for the degree Doctor of Fine Arts.
Geena Davis, you brilliantly exemplify the power of fiction to convey bedrock truth, and the power of truth to disarm inequality wherever it is found. Therefore by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities which here and everywhere pertain to this degree.