Honorary Degree Recipient
Doctor of Science
College of Liberal Arts, April 21, 2014
Kate Millett, Minnesota native, author, artist and activist, received her bachelor of arts in English from the College of Science, Literature, and the Arts (now CLA) in 1956. She became the first American woman to obtain a first-class honors degree, the highest level of degree awarded to only fifteen percent of all graduates from St. Hilda’s College at Oxford University in England (1958). During the late 1960s and 1970s, she was active in feminist politics and became a committee member of the National Organization for Women in 1966. It was during this time that Millett attended Columbia University where she earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature with distinction for her thesis “Sexual Politics.” After it was published, Sexual Politics was an immediate sensation and was hailed as the first work of academic feminist literary criticism and a foundation of feminist theory. In 1979, she was arrested and held without charges in Iran when she spoke at the first celebration of International Women’s Day. She was eventually expelled from the country. Throughout this period of time, Millett was also pursuing her work as a visual artist, creating sculpture and producing documentaries. In 1978, she opened Millett Center for the Arts, a ten-acre farm in LaGrange, New York that has provided accommodations to other women artists and writers. In the early 2000s, she dedicated much of her time to the United Nations, working with groups from around the world to draft The International Charter for Human Rights for People with Disabilities. She was also involved in a dispute with the New York City authorities who wanted to evict her from her home of 38 years in the Bowery as part of a massive redevelopment plan. In addition to authoring numerous books, she is the recipient of several awards including the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts (2012), the 2012 Award for Visual Arts, the LAMBDA Pioneer Award for Literature (2012), and the Uncommon Legacy Foundation Award (1994).
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.