Four will receive honorary degrees at commencement

By Matthew Panuska
Editor in Chief
Press Photos


Phyllis Curtin

In the past, the college has presented any where from one to four honorary degrees at commencement. This year, four people, each with strong local roots, will receive honorary degrees from MCLA.

Honorary degree recipients for this year are; Phyllis Curtin, legendary opera singer, who will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts; Ida Maino Trabold, class of 1936 and long time community resident, who will receive a Doctor of Pedagogy; Richard Ziter, an ophthalmologist and concert pianist, who will receive a Doctor in Fine Arts; and Jack Hood Vaughn, former director of the Peace Corps, who will receive a Doctor of Laws, according to a press release.

"This year's recipients all have close ties to the Berkshires through personal interest, education and residency. During their respective careers they have had a positive impact on countless lives by virtue of their individual and collective talents in all facets of public service and entertainment. They are the role models by which we measure excellence and we take great pleasure in recognizing their myriad contributions to our state, country and world," President Thomas D. Aceto said.

Curtin is a world renowned opera star, whose full-time singing career has spanned 38 years. She has sung leading roles at many major opera houses throughout the United States, Europe and South America.

Curtin became an Artist in Residence at the Tanglewood Music Center under the auspices of the Boston Symphony in 1964, where she still teaches during the summer months. In 1974, Curtin headed vocal and operatic studies at the Yale School of Music, where she stayed until 1983, when she was named dean of the School for the Arts at Boston University.

Ida Miano Trabold

Trabold earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from State Teachers College in North Adams in 1936. Trabold took graduate courses at Syracuse University, Boston University and North Adams State College.

After graduation, Trabold worked as a substitute teacher in the Williamstown and North Adams School Systems, and was the secretary to the Williams College Librarian.

Trabold served as the president of the State College Alumni Association from 1950 to 1951. She was a charter member of the Heptones, a local chapter of Harmony, Inc., a women's international barber-shop singing group with chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She served as assistant director and director until the group disbanded in 1995.

Currently, Trabold is a member of the National Education Association and Massachusetts Teacher's Association. She is also a member of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, and has been a part of its senior choir since 1941.

Richard Ziter

Ziter received a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in music from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester where he was awarded their highest honor, The Performer's Certificate. He received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Vermont, and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Ziter retired from private practice of ophthalmology and currently resides in West Stockbridge and Boca Raton, Florida.

Ziter's honors include the Distinguished Alumni Award from Drury High School in 1992, the Distinguished Classmate Award from Drury High in 1993, and the Judge Ernest Rosasco Humanitarian Award in 1995. He is a member of the board of Managers for the Eastman School of Music, the Advisory Board for the Pittsfield Community Music School, and the Board of Curtisville Consortium in Stockbridge.

Ziter has established a four-year music scholarship in perpetuity for graduates of Drury High School, and endowed the Children's Theater of the Berkshire Theater Festival in Stockbridge. He is also the benefactor of the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival at Tanglewood and other Berkshire organizations.

Jack Hood Vaughn.

Vaughn, currently the chairman of ECOTRUST, in Portland, Oregon, is the former director of the Peace Corps and U.S. Ambassador to Panama and Columbia.

Vaughn obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 1943 and Master of Arts in 1947 in Latin American Studies from the University of Michigan. While enrolled at the university, he was their head boxing coach from 1942 to 1943, won three Golden Gloves championships, and taught Spanish, French and Latin American affairs.

President Lyndon Johnson named Vaughn the United States Ambassador to Panama in 1964 after the two nations broke off diplomatic relations. In 1965 Vaughn was called back to Washington to be named Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs and the United States coordinator of the Alliance for progress. President Johnson named Vaughn director of the Peace Corps in 1966.

Vaughn was also the president of the planned parenthood federation of America-World Population, and was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.


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