Vishakha N. Desai, Doctor of Laws

No wonder you are known as “the bridge builder.” In twenty-two years at The Asia Society, including eight as president and CEO, you have helped open the world’s eyes to Eastern cultures. You began with a focus on the arts when, as director of the society’s museum, you forged its reputation as a leader in the presentation of Asian contemporary art, encouraging artists to find their voice and deepening our understanding of the roots from which the Eastern world’s astonishing economic and political change have grown. With you as president, the society’s educational work expanded fourfold, including in the teaching of Chinese language in American public schools, and spread more deeply into the realms of business and public policy. You added offices in India and South Korea and developed a spectacular new facility in Houston. You have created networks of leaders across cultures and paid particular attention to supporting those who are women and those who are young. The result of all these efforts has been the deepening of ties among cultures that have been dangerously wary of each other for centuries. As The New York Times concluded, “At a time when the eyes of the world are on Asia, this institution is indispensable.”

I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Laws, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 8, 2014