Williams College Awards Alumni Bicentennial Medals at Convocation

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NOTE: This release was revised on Sept. 6 to update an awardee’s biographical information.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August 22, 2019—Williams College Bicentennial Medals will be presented at Fall Convocation on Saturday, Sept. 7, to four accomplished alumni, including Convocation Speaker Martin A. Samuels ’67, who will address the college community.

President Maud S. Mandel and College Council Co-Presidents Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí ’20 and Elinor Sherman ’20 will welcome the Class of 2020 at Convocation, which formally launches the academic year. The event will begin at 11 a.m. in Chapin Hall after a formal procession.

Established in 1993 on the occasion of the college’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor.

Martin A. Samuels ’67, the ceremony’s principal speaker who will deliver the Convocation Address, is a master clinician, educator, and diagnostician. Samuels is an internationally known neurologist, the founding chair emeritus of the department of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a distinguished professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, where he won the first Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

In addition to Samuels, those receiving medals will be Kiat W. Tan ’65, a globally recognized horticulturalist credited with transforming Singapore’s landscape, restoring the city’s Botanic Gardens, and creating the horticultural attraction Gardens by the Bay; Danielle Deane-Ryan ’97, director of the Inclusive Clean Economy program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, whose work on developing equitable solutions to the climate crisis and building a more inclusive environmental movement has included serving as an advisor to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and as the founding executive director of Green 2.0; and Carina Vance Mafla ’99, who as the Ecuadorian health minister and executive director for the South American Institute of Government in Health, has led health system reform and facilitated the opening of 52 health centers and 10 hospitals, as well as strove to elevate the role of governments in South America to improve universal access to health for its citizens, respectively.

About the Convocation speaker

Martin A. Samuels is director of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Program for Interdisciplinary Neuroscience and the founding and current chair of the BWH Department of Neurology and Miriam Sydney Joseph Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. An internationally renowned diagnostician and teacher, his career focus has been relieving the suffering caused by neurological disease and symptoms.

Samuels has defined the field of neurological medicine with its many subspecialties of neuro-cardiology, neuro-hematology, neuro-gastroenterology, and all of the other broad interfaces between diseases of the nervous system and disorders in the rest of the body. He also has written and lectured widely on these and other related topics. Board certified in both neurology and internal medicine, he has served as president of the Association of University Professors of Neurology and is currently a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, a fellow of the American Neurological Association, member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and a master of the American College of Physicians.

With a special interest in connections between internal medicine and neurology, Samuels has written several books and many scientific articles. He is perhaps best recognized as the creator of what is now known as Samuels’s Manual of Neurologic Therapeutics, co-authored with Allan Ropper, as well as Adams’s and Victor’s Principles of Neurology. In addition, he is the editor of the Manual of Neurologic Therapeutics, seven editions; the neurology section of Stein’s Internal Medicine, 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions; the medical neurology section of Noseworthy’s Neurological Therapeutics, two editions; the medical neurology section of Schapira’s Neurology; co-editor of Office Practice of Neurology, two editions; editor of Hospitalist Neurology; co-author of Shared Care in Neurology and author of the 10 volume Video Textbook of Neurology for the Practicing Physician. He is also the founding editor-in-chief of Journal Watch Neurology.

His numerous prizes include the first Harvard Medical School Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching, the 2006 A.B. Baker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Neurological Education, and the 2007 H. Houston Merritt Award of the American Academy of Neurology for Clinically Relevant Research. He also received the Daniel Drake Medal and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati.

In addition to his B.A. from Williams College, he received his M.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and completed his post-doctoral training in internal medicine at the Boston City Hospital and in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.