Yale Bulletin and Calendar

June 10, 2005|Volume 33, Number 30|Four-Week Issue















Members of the Class of 2005 celebrate the granting of their undergraduate degrees at Commencement.

Yale celebrates its newest graduates with pomp

If Commencement guests were singled out for awards the way accomplished students are at Yale graduation celebrations, a likely recipient might have been a 20-year-old woman who proved herself worthy of honor for her moxie at the May 23 ceremony.

Amanda Bailey from Bondurant, Iowa, who had come to campus to celebrate the Yale College graduation of her brother, Nicholas Bailey, smiled broadly throughout the ceremony, even though, not long before it began, she had tripped on some stairs while leaving her hotel and had likely broken her leg.

Rather than skip Commencement to get medical attention, Bailey hobbled onto a wheelchair the hotel provided her, propped her hurt leg up on some pillows and covered it with towels to keep warm on that crisp, mostly cloudy morning. Then she sat among the crowd of some 10,000 family members and friends of the Yale graduates, cheering and clapping as President Richard C. Levin symbolically conferred degrees on the nearly 3,000 graduates of Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the University's 10 professional schools.

"I didn't want to miss it for anything," said Bailey, still smiling as the graduates happily marched off the campus at the ceremony's close. "I had to be here to see my brother graduate."

Having thrice broken her arm, Bailey was reasonably certain that her leg was broken -- as was her father, Boyce Bailey, a former emergency medical technician. While anxious about his daughter, he, too, was determined not to let the accident interfere with the celebration, and his son's final moments to shine at Yale.

Degrees and blessings

Family members and guests of the other graduates also smiled proudly during the ceremony on Yale's tree-lined Old Campus, joining the cheering as Levin announced the degree recipients. While all of the graduates were clad in the traditional black gown, some expressed their individuality with quirky mortarboard decorations, such as one student who spelled out "Yo Five" with masking tape atop his. In keeping with tradition, the students from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies decorated their caps with flowers and other greenery, while graduates of the School of Medicine wore blue stethoscopes.

Yale's 304th Commencement exercises officially began with the procession of the students onto the Old Campus. Some bubbles, blown into the air by joyful students, floated above the sea of mortarboards as the Reverend Frederick J. Streets, University chaplain, opened the ceremony with a benedictory prayer.

Noting that Yale -- with its students from all over the world -- represents a global community, he reminded graduates that they will "engage in the difficult work of confronting the tragedies of our time," including finding cures for deadly and debilitating diseases, protecting the environment and making peace. He called on them to "bring light where there is darkness" and "hope where there is despair," and urged them to "affirm the beauty of life and share it with others."

In his first Commencement as Yale College dean, Peter Salovey presented the Class of 2005 to Levin and requested the symbolic conferring of 1,047 Bachelor of Arts degrees and 189 Bachelor of Science degrees. A Class of 2005 balloon shot up in the air as representatives from the University's 12 residential colleges walked up to the Commencement dais to accept the symbolic degrees on behalf of their classmates. Bellowing out hoots and cheers, students from the graduate and professional schools then rose in turn as their respective deans announced them and Levin conferred their degrees. Also marking their first Commencement as deans this year were Jon Butler of the Graduate School, Dr. Robert J. Alpern of the School of Medicine and Harold H. Koh of the Law School, who drew raucus laughter when he modified the uniform text used by the other deans to request his students' law degrees, noting that because their academic year had not yet ended, their degrees are provisional.

During the ceremony, eight distinguished individuals received honorary degrees from Yale. They are: pioneering DNA scientist Jacqueline K. Barton; international relief worker Robert P. DeVecchi; epidemiologist William H. Foege; artist David Hockney; South African activist Mamphela A. Ramphele; Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul A. Samuelson; civil rights attorney Bryan A. Stevenson; and mathematician Andrew Wiles, who proved a 350-year-old mystery known as "Fermat's Last Theorem." (See here for their citations.)

Commencement exercises ended with two hymns: "Psalm LXV," which has been sung since Yale's first Commencement in 1718, and "Oh God, beneath thy guiding hand," whose lyrics were written by a New Haven minister who was also a Yale faculty member, to mark the city's bicentennial in 1838. One verse of the first hymn that was added in modern times features lyrics composed by outgoing School of Music dean Robert Blocker -- who will become provost and vice president of Southern Methodist University next year -- and relates to Yale's motto of "Lux et Veritas" ("Light and Truth").

"We dedicate our lives anew that
Light and truth will shine
Throughout the world, O God, we pray,
To all of humankind."

Harold W. Attridge, dean of the Divinity School, offered a blessing to the new graduates and their guests before the Yale Concert Band performed three musical pieces to accompany the proud graduates' parade off Old Campus. One of these was a song composed by University Bands director Thomas C. Duffy in honor of the departing School of Music dean, called "Robert L. Blocker Fanfare."

Class Day wisdom

The scene on Old Campus might have resembled an Impressionist painting for the family members and friends photographing the soon-to-be graduates during Class Day festivities on May 22.

Campus guests shielded their camera lenses from raindrops as they captured shots of a sea of Yale College seniors holding up umbrellas of every color and hue, some decorated with their own pictures and scenes: twirling ballerinas, smiley faces, a country garden and a Canadian flag. Light rain fell through much of the ceremony, which included an address by civil rights activist and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton '63 M.A., '64 LL.B.; the awarding of prizes to accomplished students and devoted Yale College teachers; and a bit of frivolity that included a tongue-in-cheek dramatization of the class' four-year history at Yale.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton urged the soon-to-be graduates to think in new ways during her Class Day address.

It was drizzling as the members of the Class of 2005 paraded onto the Old Campus wearing a variety of creative headgear, in keeping with longstanding tradition. Atop the heads of this year's students were flowers, ivy and other greenery; a giant deer head; stuffed animals; and bull horns -- as well as hats in an assortment of styles and colors, ranging from carefully crafted tin foil toppers to floppy straw hats and simple baseball caps.

There were some solemn moments during the traditionally lighthearted ceremony. Class secretary Alistair Anagnostou reminded the seniors that they arrived on campus to begin their time at Yale just two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States, and there was a moment of silence to remember five members of the Class of 2005 who died. Three of these students -- Kyle Burnat, Andrew Dwyer and Nicholas Grass -- were killed in a tragic automobile accident in 2003.

In her Class Day address, Norton told the students that the global issues they will face demand "fresh questions by new thinkers."

"Who are you?" she asked the Class of 2005, commenting that theirs is a generation that defies categorization in the way other generations --the World War II generation, the Vietnam generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X -- were.

"For you who entered Yale as the Twin Towers fell, Albany's last line in 'King Lear' no longer seems a truism," she told the soon-to-be graduates, quoting from the play: "The oldest hath borne most; we that are young shall never see so much nor live so long."

"What do you make of what you have already seen in your young lives?" she asked. "I am less concerned by the elusiveness of the answers we are seeking than by the sterility of the questions we often ask."

Norton, who is in her eighth term as the congresswoman for the District of Columbia, said that one question repeatedly asked on the Homeland Security Committee, on which she serves, is: Are we safer than we were on 9/11? The more appropriate question, she asserted, is: "Can we keep our society both open and safe at the same time in an era of global terrorism?"

Panning the rows of umbrella-covered seniors, she queried, "Fresh questions by new thinkers may yield better answers: Are you new thinkers?"

Norton decried what she described as a "celebrity culture," in which "[e]verybody can't be president but anybody can be a celebrity and quickly obtain a public identity." She told the seniors: "The temptation to exchange what is seen for what is done is magnified in a world where despite increasing literacy, the visual dominates the word and can easily dilute thoughtfulness and the skepticism that is emblematic of a university education. The difference between being seen and actually doing something is a challenge in the new age of technology during which you will define who you are."

Norton used a personal example to illustrate her point that one's beliefs and political leanings may change over time, telling the seniors that she now supports Congressional filibusters, which were used predominantly to divert passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for which she fought.

"Only when race was no longer the single motivating issue for filibusters was it seen for what it is and always has been -- another of the peculiar American inventions meant to protect the rights of the minority, without fear or favor, an obsession of the Framers [of the Constitution]: not unlike two senators for every state regardless of size; not unlike the Bill of Rights that shielded the minority during the successful, non-violent revolution for racial equality while protecting the protests of the pro-segregation counter-revolutionaries; and not unlike the rule of law and our independent judiciary that must be respected, whomever they protect and whether courts decide to review or decline to review a case, whatever the expressed wishes of the Congress of the United States."

Norton also urged the soon-to-be graduates not to be too certain about their future, but instead to view the world with a healthy skepticism.

"As you leave Yale, our country is brimming with certainty," she remarked. "Many of those ahead of you are certain about almost everything: certain about how the world was created, certain about the durability of the American economy, notwithstanding the twin trade and domestic deficits; certain of victory in Iraq and any other country we choose to invade. Are new thinkers skeptical of the new certainties? Do you accept Albany's conclusion in 'King Lear' that 'we who are young will never see so much?'

"As you leave Yale today, I hope you will conclude that the world is yours, but that the world that receives you today is not good enough for you," the congresswoman continued. "... I hope that your Yale education has increased not only your devotion to Yale and to your country but also your desire to make them both better than you now find them.

"Perhaps Albany's lament in 'King Lear' is right, that 'the oldest have borne most,'" concluded Norton. "Perhaps we have seen it all and know it all. Yet I sense both skepticism and new thinking in the Class of 2005. If during your lifetime, a world is being swept away, I think you already know what to do. Make a better world. Congratulations as you do it!" (The full text of Norton's speech can be found on the Office of Public Affairs [OPA] website at www.yale.edu/opa.)

Norton's message to the seniors followed another made earlier that weekend by Levin in his Baccalaureate address, in which he exhorted the soon-to-be graduates to work toward improving "the quality of public discourse in the United States and around the world." (See here for the full text of Levin's speech.)

Awards for teachers and scholars

Six members of the faculty were honored as outstanding teachers during Class Day exercises. They are Ramamurti Shankar, the John Randolph Huffman Professor of Physics; Michael Mahoney, assistant professor of history; Christine Hayes, professor of religious studies; Brian Scholl, assistant professor of psychology; David Austin, associate professor of chemistry; and Deborah Margolin, adjunct assistant professor of theater studies. (More on teaching prizes can found on the OPA website at www.yale.edu/opa.)

Four graduating seniors were awarded prizes for their sportsmanship. Annemarie Baltay and Alexander M. Caplan were honored with the Robert E. Lewis Award for their commitment to and high ideals in intramural sports; field hockey and women's lacrosse player Sarah Driscoll received the Nellie Pratt Elliot Award for athletic excellence and sportsmanship; and football player Robert Carr was presented the William Neely Mallory Award for athletic excellence and sportsmanship.

Three seniors -- Lori Flores, Harry Victor and Nathan Herrero -- were honored with the David Everett Chantler Award for their "courage, strength of character and high moral purpose." All three overcame personal obstacles to excel in their various pursuits.

For their commitment to public service, three Yale students were presented the Roosevelt L. Thompson Prize: Caitlin Dean, Andrea Maikovich and Brian Goldman.

The top academic prizes were awarded to seven seniors: Yusuf A. Samara -- the James Andrew Haas Prize; Gregory R. Ablavsky and Shashi R. Reddy -- the Warren Memorial High Scholarship Prize; Sara A. Aronchick -- the Arthur Twining Hadley Prize; Jian Yuan -- the Russell Henry Chittenden Prize; Charlotte L. Dobbs -- the Louis Sudler Prize for Excellence in the Arts; and Aaron Y. Tang -- the Alpheus Henry Snow Prize. (More on student prizes can be found on the OPA website at www.yale.edu/opa.)

Alice Lorch and T. Edward Pritchett share the stage before planting the traditional ivy and dedicating the Class of 2005 stone.

Final farewells

In keeping with one Class Day tradition -- the reading of an original poem describing the connection between the growth of the ivy vine and the flourishing of the graduating class -- Elizabeth Simpson read the Ivy Ode she composed, titled "To Ivy," and dedicated it to Yale in honor of her 21st birthday on May 23. As part of a more modern ritual of translating the poem in a foreign language, Patricio Zambrano recited the poem in Spanish.

The Class of 2005 was hushed as Simpson described how she received her acceptance to the University as a 16-year-old determined to make her curly hair straight, and then went on to recount her experience of various seasons on campus, including her final spring:

"Time is running out, and I'm getting nervous.
I'll go quietly, though.
Once I would have howled, yelled bloody murder:
Just when it was coming together -- how can you leave me now?
But the brushes and irons are gone.
My hair is finally curly -- it always will be,
And as you were teaching me to stay,
I learned how to go."

After observing yet another Class Day tradition -- the singing of "Bright College Years" and the waving of white handkerchiefs for the final line of the song ("For God, for country and for Yale") -- the soon-to-be alumni were slow to depart the Class Day gathering. While damp from the rain and chilled by the late-afternoon air, the students -- some exuberant, others more pensive -- lingered to savor their final moments of college life, sharing in conversation, taking pictures of each other, and, in bittersweet partings, exchanging generous hugs.

-- By Susan Gonzalez


Yale committed to offering overseas opportunities to all undergraduates

Project funded by Class of 1957 is adding music education . . .

International festival marks 10th year of arts & ideas

Student writer's works cast light on injustices



Study: More students expelled in preschool than in later years

Team sheds light on RNA quality-control system

Music linked to decreased need for sedation

Biologists successfully extract and analyze DNA from extinct lemurs

Law deanship endowed with Goldman family gift

Harvey Goldblatt is reappointed as Pierson master

Radio interview leads Ruff to a 'magical' discovery

Head coach post endowed in honor of late Yale tennis star

Swimmer donates Olympic gold to alma mater

Tsunami-causing earthquake yields new data about Earth's core

Children develop cynicism at an early age, says study

'Lost' papers of journalist noted for her stories on Russian Revolution . . .

All hail Hale!

New risk assessment program will provide early genetic screening

Works by young playwrights to be staged as part of Drama School project

Internationally renowned tenor joins the faculty as voice teacher

Workshop explores chronic disease prevention

MacMicking named a Searle Scholar for infection research

Elimelech garners Clarke Prize for water research

Congresswoman to speak at benefit gala for cancer research

Student Awards and Fellowships

Search committee named for School of Music dean

Memorial to honor Dr. Alvin Novick

Campus Notes

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