Commencement - Clark University

Opening Remarks - President David Angel

Distinguished guests, trustees, graduates and their families, faculty and staff, alumni and friends:

On behalf of everyone at Clark University, I am pleased to welcome all of you to our 2013 commencement ceremonies. Most especially, welcome and congratulations to our graduates. This is a wonderful moment of celebration for everyone here today, but above all, for you our graduates. Through your talent, hard work, accomplishment, and determination, you have earned this day of recognition, reflection, and celebration. This is your day. So, sit back, take a deep breath, look around at your friends and family, and enjoy every minute of this very special commencement day.

I have had the honor and privilege of working with many of you throughout your academic career and time at Clark. From academic spree day to Fall Fest, the graduate student conference, mock trial and the model UN, from the Daniels Theater stage to the basketball court, the diving board and the soccer field, from Relay for Life and Food Truth and mentoring students in the Worcester Schools, from the classroom to the laboratory, you have worked to advance your education and define your path at Clark and in the world. You have done this with passion, a commitment to excellence, and a caring spirit that makes all of us proud.

You have questioned and learned from each other, from our faculty, and from alumni and community members both on and off campus. Over the years, many of you have participated in research. Others of you have ventured forth to volunteer, launch new clubs and organizations, do internships, and study abroad. All of you have left your mark on Clark, on our local community, and on others near and far.

We know that the difficult challenges facing our world today require courage, creativity, determination, partnership, and vision. This month, for example, we learned that the average daily carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million. This is a level that is not thought to have occurred on a recurring basis since at least the Pliocene era, when temperatures were much warmer, the ice caps much smaller, and sea levels perhaps as much as 50 feet higher than they are today. Our response to the challenge of climate change has to date fallen short. While some are pessimistic about what lies ahead for our country and our world, those of us who have spent time with Clark graduates are optimistic about our common future. The difference you have made on our campus inspires us. We are confident that you—our graduates—will challenge convention and change our world for the better.

This morning at Honors Convocation, we recognized many examples of individual academic achievement. We recognized the newest members of Phi Beta Kappa and those invited to join university and department honor societies. Earlier this month, we recognized other individual achievements in athletics and in service.

Congratulations to all these awardees. You and we have much to celebrate.

As a springtime ritual, Commencement brings meaning and life to your years of study. It also serves as areminder to each of us to focus anew on the energies, expectations, aspirations, and dreams that we all nurture. We celebrate the legacy of Clark as an historic institution and diverse community of scholars and learners who are committed to excellence and to making a difference in the world.

As our new graduates move on to the world of work or advanced degrees, I would also like to acknowledge and honor all of the professors who have played a large part in their growth. Clark has a world-renowned faculty, and the connections between these faculty members and the students are what make this place sing. I especially commend one faculty member whose official service as teacher–scholar ends this year, although we know that she will remain actively engaged as a scholar for years to come. We thank Ginger Vaughan for her many years of service to our students.

I would now like to welcome and introduce our commencement speaker Carolyn Mugar. Carolyn is the executive director of Farm Aid and founder of the Armenia Tree Project. She is here representing these organizations today. Both are dedicated to protecting the environment and investing in strong economically viable communities. With her support, they have touched the lives of many people around the world an have been instrumental in working towar a sustainable future for all of us. Their mission and values resonate with those of us at Clark where we seek to challenge convention and change our world

Carolyn, the 2013 graduates are looking forward to your remarks.