Commencement 2010

Commencement 2010 is underway!

Depending on your perspective, you could say that preparations began “early today” or “earlier this year” or “four years ago”.  But in the narrow sense, the day begins with a 6 am confab about weather, and whether it’ll drive the event indoors, to the Field House.  There has only been one rainout in recent memory, and that was last year.
Security directs traffic.  Yes, the speed bumps are repainted every year in the days prior to the event.

The stage is outside Roberts Hall.  There is no single commencement speaker at a Haverford graduation.  Rather, we award several honorary degrees each year, and invite each recipient to speak for 10 minutes.

On the chance that you have not (and never will) speak at a Haverford commencement, here’s the view:

Roger Hill runs A/V and the ‘production’ side of the event.  Here he shims the lecturn.  This may seem trivial, but if you are shooting this on video (as Roger will) you know from experience that the slightest tendency to wobble will be maddeningly distracting for the audience (and, on video later, viewers):

Carol Wagner of our Arboretum staff positions the palms:

President Steve Emerson ’74 arrives from 1 College Circle with his wife, Biology professor Jenni Punt.  The tables are set up for the post-commencement reception on Founders Green:

Jenni’s seniors gave her a pair of ruby red high tops in appreciation for her support — and in recognition of her performance in the annual student-staff basketball game.  (Yep, she wore them under her gown!):

After a wait of four years (or more!) the final wait begins.  Below:  she’s graduating; he’s definitely got the HC groove down, with that combination of suit and Birkenstocks!

All hands on deck!

Ushers welcome the generations:

Meanwhile, all who will process head for Ryan Gym:

Gowns are ordered through Julie Summerfield’s college bookstore.  She’s also good at assisting faculty with last-minute adjustments to their regalia:

Jane McAuliffe, President of Bryn Mawr College, with Haverford Director of Athletics Wendy Smith ’87:

Wendy with Jess Lord, Haverford Dean of Admission & Financial Aid.  This is Jess’ first ‘walk’:  the Class of 2010 was the first class he admitted to the College:

Students gather inside:

All those names, each belonging to a particular person, in just the right order…

Meanwhile, in a quiet moment before things formally begin, Registrar Lee Watkins reads the Commencement Program:

You wouldn’t believe the astronomical amount of detail and verification associated with the conferring of degrees.  As the big day approaches, Lee and his colleagues check, double-check, and triple-check student records to make sure that everything is correct:  majors, minors, concentrations, departmental honors, college honors….the list of things to get right is stunning.  It all comes together in the Program, a booklet that documents the class.  This year, Brenna McBride of the Communications staff worked with Lee to produce the program, which went to the printer on Thursday and was delivered Friday.

This year’s edition has a new element that added an enormous degree of difficulty to the process, yet one that matches the degree of difficulty associated with what these seniors have accomplished!  Specifically, we are now printing the title of each senior’s thesis (or similar capstone academic project) adjacent to their name:

Aryeh Kosman, with whom so many of us studied in the Philosophy Dept., is Faculty Marshal and marches with Prof. Darin Hayton (History) and Jon Evans ’77 (representing the Corporation of Haverford College):

Welcome, members of the Class of 2010:

President Emerson greets the crowd.  He celebrates the accomplishments of the Class of 2010, making specific reference to their experiences through our Center for Peace & Global Citizenship and the borders they have crossed, the boundaries they have bridged.  In welcoming them into the alumni community, he mentions how his work brings him into contact with alums from across the years.   They regularly and consistently report how ‘Haverford values’ enrich their own lives and inform the way they interact within their many and diverse communities.  To the Class of 2010:  “You are supremely prepared….and I salute you!”
This year’s honorary degrees go to:
Juan Guzman Tapia: As the first judge to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on human rights charges, Juan Guzman Tapia is hailed as a champion of social justice.  “You are the privileged among the privileged…The principles that you have acquired here will be the light that shows you the way.”
Bob Herbert: Since 1993, New York Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert has been raising awareness of the issues that matter to many—poverty, education, health care, race relations, international affairs—with his twice-weekly essays on politics, urban affairs and social trends.  He urged the Class to slow down, for their own benefit and for society’s:  “The time wasted sending 100 emails about nothing could be time spent holding one person’s hand.  We need to reduce the speed limits of our lives, we need to savor the trip.  And paradoxically, that will give us a better grasp of how so many things have gone haywire, both in our lives and in our society.”
Greg Kannerstein ‘63: This posthumous award recognizes Kannerstein’s contributions as a student, teacher, dean, coach, administrator and above all, friend.  He dedicated his life and career to his alma mater, holding a variety of positions during his 41 years at the College and consequently coming to be known as “Mr. Haverford.”  The degree was awarded to his family.  Director of Athletics Wendy Smith ’87 read the proclamation.  “Greg embodied the ethos of the Haverford community:  respect, integrity, honesty…You are the product of that same educational process…So go forth and live by the same values, and keep Greg’s Haverford in your hearts forever.”
Jean-Luc Marion: One of the best-known living philosophers in France, Jean-Luc Marion was a student of Jean Beaufret, Jacques Derrida and Ferdinand Alquié. He started his work as a leading scholar in the history of early modern philosophy (Descartes mostly), and evolved as a phenomenologist and a philosopher of religion.  He urged the Class to see in Commencement not just a beginning, but a continuation of the joyful process of learning that has characterized their time at Haverford.  “Never forget that real life, real conversations…comes first and mostly from the books you have read, the books we shall keep reading, and the books yet unread, which we surely will discover – or write — in the future.”
With the degrees awarded, it’s off to Founders Green for a party.  Grads approach from the west:

While friends and family approach from the east:

And where they meet…

You get a lot of picture taking!

All in all, a thoughtful and inspiring day at the Ford.  We’ll close with a postcard from the ceremony: