Office of the President


Introduced by

Douglas Davis
Chairman and Professor of Psychology

Robert Stevens, I have the honor to present CAROL GILLIGAN for the degree of DOCTOR OF HUMANE LETTERS, honoris causa.

Dr. Gilligan has in the past decade transformed our appreciation of women's development and has, in the process, re-centered problems of human development. Freud's admonition "to love and to work" have taken renewed meaning from Carol Gilligan's writing. which critiques and reshapes personality theories rooted in the Freudian tradition.

Carol Gilligan's deep appreciation of human discourse was formed nearby, as she completed a highest honors degree in English at Swarthmore. Her subsequent doctoral training at Harvard University placed her at the center of the theoretical and empirical work on which contemporary American psychology has based its generalizations concerning personality and morality. Even as she became a major contributor to the literature of moral and personality development. however Carol Gilligan began to detect that it was flawed at the core. A decade of study of the responses of adolescent and adult persons to the moral dilemmas of their lives--young women facing decisions about abortion, young men considering resistance to the draft--persuaded her that lineal development theories based on male experience had enshrined as the most human course a picture of autonomy and individuation in which relationship and empathic connectedness were either ignored or treated as pathological. The publication in 1982 of her brilliant book, In a Different Voice, marked the emergence of a discussion of gender difference which has become the basis for re-examination of the assumptions of psychological theory generally. Throughout this work, Dr. Gilligan has demonstrated a sensitivity to what the subject of investigation was trying to say, and an evocative gift for telling the story of the other, from which all of us may learn. Her own life speaks powerfully to feminists of both sexes about the viability. and the empowerment, of balanced concern with family and profession.

The current generation of students, whether fortunate enough to participate in Carol's courses at Radcliffe and Harvard or reading and discussing her work at the hundreds of other colleges where it has formed the basis of new courses, carry with them a commitment to hearing previously-stilled voices of mutuality and care. We trust that our students carry from Haverford some of the passionate moral suasion Carol Gilligan teaches.

May 17, 1987