Clark's 105th Commencement: Grads urged to see with new eyes

Clark University celebrated its 105th Commencement on Sunday, May 23.

Degrees were granted to 967 Clark graduates: 522 baccalaureate, 413 masters, and 32 doctoral.

Richard F. Celeste, president of Colorado College, delivered the Commencement address, asking graduates to see with new eyes.

In his address to the graduates, Celeste recalled a legally blind fellow Peace Corps volunteer, who had expressed to him that her experience, although difficult, had given her the “gift of new eyes.”  He noted that, “we all need the gift of new eyes if we are to navigate life’s journey in the days and years ahead.”

“You are graduating into a world in which traditional jobs may be scarce but work is not,” Celeste continued. “By that I mean that this increasingly borderless and fast-changing world needs those who are prepared to commit themselves to service—in education, in health care, in sustainability initiatives—and to entrepreneurial activity inventing the businesses that will respond to the pressing needs of millions of people here and around the globe.”

“I know, because you are graduating from Clark University, that you are already experienced at doing the work this world presents to you,” Celeste said. “Over half of you have done community service, living out the mission of Clark: a liberal arts and research university committed to scholarship that addresses social imperatives in a global context.”

“You are graduating into a world in which traditional jobs may be scarce but work is not.” ~ Richard Celeste

Celeste began his term as the twelfth president of Colorado College in July 2002. Prior to assuming that role, he served as U.S. Ambassador to India. His public service experience also includes two terms as governor of Ohio, service as director of the Peace Corps, and one term as lieutenant governor of Ohio. In the private sector, Celeste was a managing partner of Celeste and Sabety Ltd., an economic development consultancy.  He taught urban economics at John Carroll University, and served as a visiting fellow in public policy at Case Western University.

Currently chair of the Board of Trustees of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, Celeste is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a lifetime national associate of the National Academies. He is a board member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the president of the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership and an advisory board member of the Institute of International Education.

Celeste is a 1959 graduate of Yale University. A Rhodes Scholar in 1960, he studied at Oxford University/Exeter College from 1961 to 1962.  He was a Carnegie Teaching Fellow in History at Yale in 1969.

“You are graduating into a world of unimaginable change and challenge,” he told graduates.  “It is a world that will reward those who are mobile and flexible, who think across the boundaries of disciplines and across the constraints of culture.  It is a world that will present opportunity to those who not only answer questions, but more importantly question answers.”

During the Clark Commencement, Celeste received a Doctor of Laws degree, presented by Professor William Fisher, director of Clark’s International Development, Community and Environment department, and conferred by President Bassett.

Victoria Fox, of South Orange, N.J., gave the Senior Address, recognizing that she and her fellow graduates will be forever united as Clark alumni.

“As we prepare to leave our undergraduate days behind us, we probably find ourselves becoming nostalgic, placing special value on the symbols of our time here at Clark,” Fox said. “The symbol I have my eye on is the Clark University Alumni bumper sticker.  I’ve been waiting a long time to attach this emblem of accomplishment to my back windshield.”

She added, “The word ‘alumni’ reminds me that we are all forever united by how we have chosen to define this period in our lives, as Clarkies. We have taken unique paths, but during these four years we have grown in a common direction -- one toward active citizenship and social consciousness.  As we embark on our next adventures, let us take this knowledge with us: that we are never alone and we are never lost.”

Fox received her B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Education. As an undergraduate, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was active in the Scarlet Key, along with volunteering in the Worcester Public Schools, Health Awareness Services in Worcester, and performing with the Salsa Encendida Dance Team.

The Commencement was Clark’s last under the stewardship of President John E. Bassett, who is leaving the University on June 30. Bassett was dubbed an honorary member of the Class of 2010.

In his traditional closing remarks and charge to graduates, President Bassett highlighted memorable moments during his ten-year tenure at Clark.  “Kay and I have been profoundly changed by our 10 years at Clark,” he said. “We are not the same since we arrived in Worcester. We are better for that, and so are you and so, we hope, is Clark.”

Clark University also bestowed Honorary Degrees upon the following:

Jessie Gruman is the founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health, an independent Washington-based nonprofit organization funded by the Annenberg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and other foundations. She serves on the board of trustees of the Center for Medical Technology Policy, the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education of DHHS, the board of Center for Information Therapy and the Technical Board of the Milbank Memorial Fund.

She holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Columbia University and is a Professorial Lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University. Gruman received a Doctor of Science degree.

James Welu is director of the Worcester Art Museum, the second-largest art museum in New England. He completed his undergraduate work at Loras College in 1966 and graduate work in studio art and art history at Notre Dame. After teaching for several years, he pursued a doctorate at Boston University. Welu received a Doctor of Humane Letters.

While completing his dissertation in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting, he came to Worcester to teach at Clark and at the Worcester Art Museum. He joined the museum staff as assistant curator in 1974, served as chief curator from 1980 to 1986, when he became the museum’s director.  He has also served as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and as director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts.

The Honorable D’Army Bailey, a recently retired circuit court judge in Tennessee, graduated from Clark in 1965. He originally enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, but was expelled for participating in demonstrations against segregation.  Clark students heard about his ouster and raised $2,400 to bring him to Worcester to complete his education.

Judge Bailey completed his Juris Doctorate at Yale University in 1967. Elected to the City Council in Berkeley, California, in 1971, he was ousted in a recall election after two years because of his controversial Black Nationalist politics. In 1983, he began his fight to preserve the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Finally, after years of fundraising, Bailey's vision was realized in 1991 when the Lorraine Motel building was restored and transformed into the National Civil Rights Museum.

He became a jurist in 1990, and continued in that role until his retirement in 2009.

Judge Bailey has been a passionate supporter of civil rights and has remained engaged with Clark, where he recently spoke at a Difficult Dialogues Symposium and at the Jonas Clark Fellows dinner in October.  He received a Doctor of Laws degree.

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