The Colgate Scene
July 2003

Commencement 2003

The Class of 2003 Torchlight Cermony. [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Honored at commencement with honorary degrees were the Very Reverend Nathan D. Baxter, Jane Forbes Clark, commencement speaker Anna Quindlen, Gerald D. Fischbach '60, M.D., and Kwame A. Appiah.
Coming less than a month after the final snowfall of one of the longest winters in recent memory, Colgate's 182nd commencement was held on a weekend of sun-kissed splendor in the Chenango Valley. Clear skies combined with balmy temperatures to lend a festive, summer-like atmosphere to the proceedings as more than 700 new names were added to the roster of Colgate alumni.

Presiding at her first commencement at Colgate, Rebecca Chopp urged the Class of 2003 to remember all those who helped make possible this special moment in their lives:

"Let an attitude of genuine thankfulness resound this day in all our ceremonies and in each of our celebrations. Thank you to parents who supported this education, who cheered the triumphs, who helped learn from the problems, who paid the bills, and who now take so very much pride in this day. Thanks to friends who gather today. Not one of you has gone through this experience alone; your friends have supported and challenged you along each step of the way. You will make many other friends in your lifetime, but -- if you are like previous Colgate graduates -- these friends will form the basis and foundation for your work, personal and social lives.

"Thanks to our alumni who support the school and who today welcome you into the Colgate Alumni Association! Thanks to our Board of Trustees who dedicate incredible time and energy to ensuring the university's future. Thanks to faculty members who dedicate their lives to you and who help you learn everything from astronomy to economics to studio art to sociology to physics to peace studies to psychology to history to religion to philosophy and beyond! Thanks to staff who make sure you have what you need, who care for this beautiful campus, who clean our halls and rooms, who feed and protect us -- even from ourselves. Thankfulness means we recognize our interdependence; thankfulness means we understand our indebtedness; thankfulness means we are connected forever."

The words "Thanks Mom and Dad" written in English and Korean adorn the cap of Stephen Kim as he waits with classmates Kwang Park (left) and Frank Cherena for commencement ceremonies to begin. Brad D'Arco declares his class spirit with a special pair of glasses.

At her first commencement as Colgate's president, Rebecca Chopp told graduates that they "have endured with patience and hope . . . provided solace to one another; spirit to move the school forward; [and] leadership to continue Colgate's wonderful tradition and mold it in new forms and ways."

"We are our values"

The following remarks are excerpted from the 2003 baccalaureate sermon delivered by the Very Reverend Nathan D. Baxter, dean of Washington National Cathedral.

I wonder this morning, what limits -- what limits have you placed on God? As graduates, as faculty, as trustees, as parents and friends, is your conviction about the power and demand of God limited to church or synagogue or temple or mosque? Is it limited to polite religious worship experiences? And where is God off-limits? Where is God's power meaningless in our daily lives? Graduates, will it be in your professions? Will it be in the complicated worlds of politics or business or medicine or law, or in the rational and technological academies or in the places where we [have] fun and a good time? Have we deemed these worlds too complex, too wicked, too important . . . for the simple tenets of faith?

But I have news. God is there. Many persons from every station in life, you will discover as you enter into the world, in every profession you will find them who take their faith seriously in every aspect of their life. But more than a lack of faith, a limitation of God's will and power in our lives can simply be a matter of convenience. Yes, it's hard to be a person of faith, any faith, any authentic faith, to bear witness in our social circles and professional settings, to be committed to honesty, to justice, to respect, and not to be party to success at any cost, or the jokes and the popular attitudes which denigrate others because of gender or culture or other aspects of their social location. It's hard to risk saying what we really believe in our hearts and allow it to influence our decisions and behaviors where we would otherwise want to be respected and successful. But remember this: we are our values. And your soul is your integrity.

Rebecca Fertig '03 and Nikki Cyr '03 laugh at comments made by student speaker Richard Scott Adams '03 during the Senior Class Day luncheon on Whitnall Field. Shira Rappaport '04 and Joy Commisso '03 embrace while Abby Spiegel '03 and Allison Lynk '03 share tears with Joanna Glor '04 after the seniors' final performance with the Swinging 'Gates in Memorial Chapel.

Dachia Taylor receives her degree from President Rebecca Chopp.

"You are our role models"

The following comments are excerpts from Anna Quindlen's commencement address.

History will be shaped and written, too, by a group of what promise to be truly remarkable human beings. Those human beings are all of you -- the members of the Class of 2003 and your cohorts. You're what demographers named the millennials, born between 1975 and 1994, seventy million strong, the biggest bump in our national line graph since most of your parents, the baby boomers.

Whether you are twenty-four or fifty-four, begin today to say no to the Greek chorus that thinks it knows the parameters of a happy life when all it really knows is the homogenization of human existence. We need to eschew that way of being today more than ever before, to the extent that we have defined ourselves sometimes in this nation in terms of false gods. We have to turn toward the true because perhaps soon the true will be all we will have. There was once a forward march in this country, ditch digger to cop to lawyer to judge in four generations -- that's how we learned it in Irish households. Our children would do better than we had done. But maybe we've topped out and that progression is no longer true.

I think in some ways this is a very good thing. Because perhaps we will learn to redefine what doing better really means. After all, it's hard to escape the notion that we have sometimes become spoiled and a little lost. People who once thought that TV was a miracle now feel impoverished if there isn't one in every room, then wonder why their kids don't read more. Twenty years ago we'd never heard of the Internet. Ten years ago most of us had never gone online and today we go ballistic if we can't sign on in seconds. You millennials, bombarded by a culture that sends you so many divergent messages -- to wear khakis, to smoke cigarettes, to live clean, to drink Bud, to take jobs your parents hate, to pierce your navels, to dye your hair, to have casual sex but seek enduring love -- have had to puzzle out for yourselves what truly has meaning. That is disconcerting, difficult and wonderful.

. . . Samuel Butler once said, "Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes along." That sounds terrifying, doesn't it? And difficult, too. But somehow you have always known that that way lies music. Look in the mirror tonight. Who is that man? Who is that woman? She is the work of your life. He is its greatest glory, not some out there . . . view of what he or she ought to be. I know you will not dare to diss them by dressing them up in someone else's spiritual clothing. So pick up your violin and lift your bow and play, play your heart out, live well, because you are our role models.

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