Home » Arts and Science NotebookFall 2009

Alumni Saks and Yunus Receive Rare, Prestigious Honors

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Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus

Two College of Arts and Science alumni recently made international headlines when each received prestigious and notable awards.

In August, Muhammad Yunus, PhD’71, was awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. America’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other signifi-cant public or private endeavors.

Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts who pioneered the use of micro-loans to provide credit to poor individuals. He founded the Grameen Bank in his native Bangladesh to grant small, low-interest loans to the poor. The successful model has spread throughout the world. In 2006, Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Elyn Saks

Elyn Saks

Elyn Saks, BA’77, is the recipient of a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Known for her scholarship in mental health law and advocacy, as well as for her personal battle with schizophrenia, Saks is a University of Southern California law professor and associate dean. She is also an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Her widely acclaimed memoir, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey through Madness, disclosed her lifelong struggle with schizophrenia and acute psychosis.

A philosophy major in the College of Arts and Science, Saks was a Founder’s Medalist at Vanderbilt and a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University before earning a law degree from Yale.

The MacArthur Foundation annually awards the no-strings-attached fellowships, informally known as “genius grants,” to encourage recipients in their creativity, originality and potential.

photo credit: Daniel Dubois

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