LEWISTON — Auburn-based furniture-maker Thomas Moser and Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson will be two of the four people receiving honorary degrees from Bates College at its commencement in May.

The other two receiving degrees at the 149th commencement ceremonies May 31 are:

• Manjul Bhargava, winner of the 2014 Fields Medal for mathematics and a professor at Princeton University, who will deliver the commencement address. He will receive an honorary doctor of science degree;

• Dr. Mark Abelson, a pioneering ophthalmologist whose research and work has led to dozens of new eye treatments and cures.

Bates President Clayton Spencer will confer the honorary degrees.

Commencement concludes the undergraduate careers of the estimated 500 members of the Bates Class of 2015, representing 33 U.S. states and 26 countries.


Moser will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He has earned an international reputation as a designer and maker of handmade American furniture. In 1972, Moser was a tenured associate professor of rhetoric and director of debates at Bates College when he resigned from the faculty to pursue woodworking. His company’s furniture can be found in homes, businesses, colleges, libraries and public spaces around the world.

Samuelson will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She is among the most recognized and decorated athletes from Maine. The Freeport resident is a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon, a world-record holder many times over, an environmentalist, mother, coach, author and philanthropist. She is also founder and chairwoman of the TD Beach to Beacon 10k Road Race, which this summer will benefit the Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn. Samuelson’s daughter, Abigail, was a member of the Bates Class of 2010.

According to information released by Bates College on the other commencement speakers, Bhargava will receive a Doctor of Science degree.

“Bhargava is celebrated for his achievements in mathematical research, achievements that last year earned him the Fields Medal, a coveted honor for mathematics that goes to three or four under-40 mathematicians every four years.”

Abelson will also receive a Doctor of Science degree.

“If you have ever been prescribed an eye medication or treatment for an external eye disease, it’s likely that you have benefited from the lifelong work of Abelson, one of the world’s leading eye doctors,” the college statement said. “His groundbreaking research in how clinical trials are structured has led to the development of some of the most prescribed drugs currently available for the treatment of eye diseases.”

For more details on the four honorees, go to Bates.edu.

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