Jennifer Doudna ’85 and Stewart Smith ’68 to Address the Class of 2022

Stewart Smith and Jennifer Doudna, Commencement Speakers 2022

Two Pomona College alumni will address the class of 2022 as Commencement speakers: Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna ’85 and long-time supporter of the College Stewart Smith ’68. Each will be recognized with an honorary degree by the College during the ceremony.

Pomona’s 129th commencement exercises will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 15. The ceremony returns to the College’s Marston Quad after two years of virtual celebrations due to the pandemic.

Renowned Biochemist

Jennifer Doudna’s groundbreaking development of CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome-engineering technology earned her the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and changed the course of human and agricultural genomics research. She shared the award with collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier.

Doudna is the first graduate of Pomona College to receive a Nobel Prize.

CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful technology that enables scientists to change DNA—the code of life—with a precision only dreamed of just a few years ago. Labs worldwide have redirected their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine.

Pomona College professors and students work in campus labs that use the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing techniques Doudna has pioneered.

In addition to her scientific achievements, Doudna is a leader in public discussion of the ethical implications of genome editing for human biology and societies, and she advocates for thoughtful approaches to the development of policies around the safe use of CRISPR technology.

Doudna cites her Pomona education as a key ingredient in her scholarly success. “I am grateful to Pomona every day, honestly,” she said in a Pomona College Magazine interview, “because it was a liberal arts education that exposed me to so many ideas that I would never have come in contact with, probably, without having attended Pomona.”

Doudna received her B.A. from Pomona College and her Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School. Currently, she is founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute and is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair and a Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Long-time Supporter of the College

Stewart Smith is an attorney and the co-founder and CEO of Kinsmith Financial Corporation, a family office which since 1979 has provided investment management and financial planning services. In connection with Kinsmith Financial’s investment activities, Smith has served on the boards of numerous privately held companies.

Previously, Smith served nine years as chair of the Board of Trustees of Pomona College and ten years as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

His involvement at Pomona started early on in his college career. Smith was sophomore class president and chair of the student judiciary board, as well as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Mu Epsilon. An economics major and mathematics minor, Smith excelled academically, graduating magna cum laude.

At least nine of Smith’s family members have attended Pomona. His father, H. Russell Smith, ’36 served as a trustee and board chair. His daughter MacKenzie (Smith) Teymouri, ’09 currently serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. “So it runs really deep in the family,” he said in an interview with Pomona College Magazine in 2017. “We bleed Pomona blue.”

He has been instrumental in the development of the College. Smith chaired the last capital campaign, Daring Minds, and led searches for the eighth and ninth presidents of Pomona. The College’s Smith Campus Center is named after his family.

Smith received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Pomona College. He and Robin A. Ferracone were married in 1997. She is the founder and CEO of Farient Advisors LLC, a premier executive compensation, performance and governance consultancy.

Pomona College’s 2022 Commencement Weekend will take place from Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15. For more information, visit