Susan Campbell, the Dean of Planning and Assessment, sent an email to the senior class (Class of ’11) on Wednesday asking for nominations for May of 2011 Commencement ceremony speakers and Honorary Degree recipients:
Our goal is to honor people who are distinguished beyond mere celebrity, and whose presence at our Commencement would enable us to recognize excellence in a wide range of human endeavors. Many honorary degree recipients have a connection with Middlebury, as alumni, parents, or friends of the College, or as residents of Vermont.
“But school hasn’t even started…,” you say. True. But, the Board of Trustees committee charged with the duty is compiling the list to submit to President Liebowitz, who makes the final decision, now. So get thinking – nominations are due September 17.
Graphic from The Daily Beast
Who do you think would be great to invite? Movie star? Politician? Or someone with a great, perhaps little-known story? One list of 2010′s coolest grad speakers contains (once?) big names like Lisa Kudrow and Alec Baldwin. A list of 30 of the all-time best from The Daily Beast includes a selection of more distinguished speakers. (President Obama made both lists.)
In May, authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn spoke at Middlebury’s Class of 2010 graduation, which elicited mixed reactions, as The Campus reported. The most notable guest of recent memory was Bill Clinton in 2007.
Though, apart from this little detail, fellow seniors, don’t think about May 22 too hard: it’s still a whole year away…
The Middlebury Class of 2010 graduated yesterday under sunny skies. Commencement speakers Nick Kristof and Sheryll Wudunn spoke about changing the world (what else would they talk about?) and student speaker Peter Baumann ’10 helped explain what recession meant for the class. Overall, a very successful Sunday for Middlebury.
Curiously, there was no live feed of the commencement ceremony. It’s been increasingly common for institutions to live broadcast the events for alumni, parents, and others who feel connected to the community. Middlebury kept it low-tech.
Video of Wudunn and Kristof is here. But the text of the speech is strangely absent from the College website, at the request of Wudunn and Kristof. Peter Baumann ’10 delivered a poignant speech, the first one in years that didn’t have more joke lines than nuggets of wisdom. The text of Baumann’s address is here and video here.
Of course, the 24 hours prior to the ceremony were full of all-night debauchery ending of course, with the sunrise at the football stadium and a 6am breakfast with President Liebowitz at Steve’s Park Diner. Middlebury may not have a lot of traditions, but that is one of them. Rumors have it that a bonfire down at the modular homes required both the fire department and a rousing rendition of “There’s Only One Middlebury….” Enough said.
Two students, Audrey Tolbert ’13 and Cody Gohl ’13 have their take on the graduation ceremony on their summer blog, English Spoken Here.
7Days reveals that WuDunn and Kristof’s son has been accepted to Middlebury but likely will take a gap year. Look out class of 2015… Also, WuDunn and Kristof considered going to Japanese school at Middlebury but chose to learn in New York for family reasons.
BFP had a few key quotes and the list of Vermont students graduating for Middlebury.
Photos of the event by Isaac Sadaqah are great, including the early morning shot in this post.
The Campus announced this morning that New York Times columnist Nick Kristof will deliver a joint commencement address on May 23rd with his spouse Sheryl WuDunn. In 1990, the married couple both won the Pultizer Prize for their coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. WuDunn, the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer, is now an author and businesswoman. Kristof continues at the NY Times, writing primarily on human rights conditions, development strategies, and global poverty particularly in Asia and Africa. The pair is anticipated to “ask this generation to tackle the issue of gender inequality in all its future endeavors.”
Kristof and WuDunn, quoted in The Campus, had this to say about Middlebury:
Kristoff: “Middlebury has been pretty successful at cultivating an international response ethos where students lean from the world and engage it,” Kristof said. “That’s something I admire and encourage.”
WuDunn: “Students are much more service oriented…They really feel they want to be proactive about [making a difference]. We’re seeing that and we’re extremely excited about it.”
My thought is that this is a good choice for Middlebury. Past graduation speakers have been a bit of a sore spot for graduating seniors (other than the class of 2007 who had Bill Clinton). Kristof is a well-known figure that fits Middlebury’s self-proclaimed international strengths and seniors should be glad to throw around that name when comparing notes with other college seniors nationwide (he’s a big deal, even if your friends have never heard of him). Still, I have a hard time imagining a joint-address, but I’m sure they’ve done it before.
MiddBlog wants to know: What do you think of Kristof and WuDunn? Do the pair match your expectations?
And just like that, Senior week is gone, graduation is over and there’s a new Senior Class. It seems as though Stonyfield CEO Gary Hirschberg’s commencement address yesterday was almost as bleak as the rain at the beginning of festivities but not enough to ruin the general lavishness of the weekend’s festivities (seriously, who can complain about mimosas on Proctor terrace?) and the general sense of happiness and excitement that came out with the sun later in the morning.
In case you missed any of the ceremony or want to relive it, you can watch the video posted by the College, follow #middgrad09 on Twitter, or read any of the follow-up news stories.
Congratulations Class of 2009!
I’m told the best Middlebury College commencement address ever was that of Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers fame). View the whole commencement address archive. But to give us all some perspective before Sunday, here are some of addresses heard so far this year at other colleges:
Impressive: John Legend at UPenn:
Funny: Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane
Family: Michelle Obama at UC Merced and President Obama at Notre Dame