Class of 2011 'leading already' in time of 'great transformation'

Clark University celebrated its 107th Commencement—the first under the stewardship of Clark’s ninth President, David P. Angel—on Sunday, May 22. Degrees were granted to 1,045 Clark graduates:  524 baccalaureate, 486 masters, and 35 doctoral.

Alan Khazei, the founder and chief executive officer of Be the Change Inc. and City Year co-founder, delivered the Commencement address.

Khazei recalled his journey as an unemployed graduate to someone who has created a nationwide national service program. He spoke of how early disappointments and frustrations   ultimately led to his first position (working for Sen. Gary Hart’s presidential campaign) and   provided the experience he needed later in life.

* To see a selection of photos from the day, click here.

He spoke of his parents’ advice and steps he took before pursuing his passion and creating the City Year program. “Trust your gut,” he told the graduates. “Try to learn from adversity and rejection as much as from victory and success.”

Khazei told the Class of 2011 they were “coming of age at time of great transformation in the world. … From right here in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Cairo, Egypt, you are living at a time when citizens can do more than ever before to take charge, not only of our own lives, but of our global futures.”

“It’s commonplace to call your generation the leaders of tomorrow – but I don’t believe that – you are showing that you’re not tomorrow’s leaders … you’re leading already today, and I congratulate you for that.” ~ Alan Khazei

Khazei reminded the crowd that young people have traditionally led great efforts for change.  He asked that, as they tackle the everyday challenges of life (finding a job, paying bills, etc.), they also take on bigger, tougher questions and strive to make world a better place.

Khazei’s  Be the Change Inc. is a Boston-based group dedicated to building national coalitions of non-profit organizations and citizens to enact legislation on issues such as poverty and education. He also co-founded and was chief executive officer of City Year, an AmeriCorps national service program. In April, Khazei announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in the 2012 elections.

During the Clark Commencement, Khazei received a Doctor of Laws degree, presented by Charles C. Agosta, professor of physics and conferred by President David Angel.

Senior speaker Kelly J. Wynveen, a native of Wisconsin who majored in International Development and Social Change, touched upon the many historic events that occurred during the Class of 2011’s years at Clark, including the election of President Obama and installation of Clark President David Angel, as well as the many accomplishments of her classmates.

"Since 2007, 30 new student groups have formed, and the number of events on campus has just about doubled, with over 1,000 events put on by student groups this year,” Wynveen said.

“Some of these groups we’ve created have changed the Clark campus since we’ve been here and will continue to do so even after we leave. Clark Yoga has become so popular they consistently run out of space in their early morning classes, which is saying something on a college campus.”

Wynveen graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree. As an undergraduate, she was a member of the Gryphon & Pleiades Senior Honor Society, Fiat Lux Honor Society, president and founder of ONE Campus Challenge to combat world hunger, co-editor of STIR Magazine.  She also served as an off-campus representative for Clark’s Undergraduate Student Council and grants committee chairwoman.

President Angel gave the traditional closing remarks and charge to graduates.

“We know that the difficult challenges facing our world today require courage, creativity, determination, partnership, and vision,” said President Angel.  “The difference you have made on our campus inspires me and others. I am confident that you—our graduates—will challenge convention and change our world.”

President Angel gave his well-wishes to the Class of 2011 and ended by saying, “For those of you who are continuing on to a graduate degree in our fifth-year program, I understand that classes in many programs start on Monday morning. We will see you there!”

Clark University also bestowed honorary degrees upon the following:

John Bassett is president of Heritage University in Toppenish, Washington. He was president of Clark University from 2000 to 2010, working closely with faculty, alumni and friends of the University to advance academic goals and strengthen Clark’s reputation as a research institution.

Bassett is a nationally recognized leader in higher education who serves on multiple boards and committees. He is Chairman of the Board of NAICU (National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) and is on the boards of CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation), overseeing accreditation practices in higher education, and Phi Beta Kappa Fellows. He served three years on the Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity for ACE (American Council on Education).

Bassett was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University from 1993 to 2000. He is a scholar and teacher of American literature, publishing 11 books, including “Sherwood Anderson: An American Career,” and more than 30 professional articles.

Bassett received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the ceremony.

Jack Dangermond is the founding president of Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), widely recognized as the world leader in GIS software development, with “a vision that computer mapping and analysis could help us design a better future.” Under Dangermond's leadership, Esri has grown to employ 2,700 people in the United States, designing cutting-edge GIS and GeoDesign technologies used in industry around the world.

Dangermond’s many honors and awards include Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association; the Global Citizen Award, Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association; Alexander Graham Bell Medal, National Geographical Society; and the Distinguished Public Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to National and International Affairs, from the U.S. Department of State.

Dangermond received an honorary Doctor of Science.

Shirley Brice Heath is a linguistic anthropologist who is Professor Emerita, Margery Bailey Professorship in English, at Stanford University.

Heath’s work spans anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and education. Her major research since 1987 has been with young people in under-resourced neighborhoods who are taught both entrepreneurial and community-building skills to help create and sustain positive learning environments.

Heath is a MacArthur Prize winner who has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. She has written several books including the award-winning “Ways with Words: Language, Life, And Work in Communities and Classrooms,” and more than 100 articles and book chapters.

Heath received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.