Freedman is named to Academy

by Hank Leukart | 5/1/98 5:00am

College President James Freedman, who is stepping down this summer after serving 11 years, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Freedman joins Emeritus Chemistry Professor Walter Stockmayer, who was elected to the Academy in 1946, Psychology Professor Michael Gazzaniga and former Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering Elsa Garmire, who was elected in 1996.

"It's a lovely surprise," he said. Freedman said he did not know he was going to be elected until he received a letter last week. The election was "out of the blue," he said.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, located in Cambridge, Mass., is an honorary society that recognizes achievement in the sciences and humanities.

The Academy dates back to the American Revolution. John Adams, the second president of the United States, created the organization.

Freedman said he is unsure of his responsibilities as a member of the Academy, but he will probably have to "go to meetings, serve on committees within [his] area of competence and vote on new members."

Freedman said the members of the Academy, a group of academics and prominent researchers, "meet and study problems of national and academic interest." The Academy also publishes "Daedalus," a journal exploring the culture of art and science.

In addition to Freedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and commencement speaker Doris Kearns Goodwin received an election letter last week.

Other recently elected members of the Academy include opera singer Beverly Sills, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser, The New York Times Science Editor John Noble Wilford, President of the Ford Foundation Susan Beresford, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry E. Sonall Thomas and portraitist Chuck Close.

In order to be elected to the Academy, a person must be nominated by a current member and then approved by a majority of the membership, an Academy coordinator told The Dartmouth when Garmire was elected.

The coordinator said the nomination process is layered. First, the Academy receives member nominations and current members then vote on the list to narrow it down. The Academy receives about 1,000 nominations each year and narrows the list down to about 150.

There are 3,300 fellows and 550 Honorary Members in the Academy. This includes 168 Nobel Prize laureates and 58 Pulitzer Prize winners. The members are divided into four classes: the physical sciences, the biological sciences, the social arts and sciences and the humanities and fine arts.

Freedman said he is a member of other, similar institutions such as the American Law Institute, an organization limited to 1,500 American lawyers that "makes many recommendations about the reform of law." He said he attends annual meetings at the institute.