Marlboro College

NewsPresident Paul LeBlanc's Commencement Address

We now turn to the highlight of the day: the awarding of academic degrees to this year’s graduates. In these last two weeks the quiet of the semester’s end and exam period have been punctuated with the hoops, hollers, and hugs of yet another successful oral exam. Looks of fatigue and tension have given way to relief and joy that naturally persists today.

As each graduate is introduced, I will read the degree and area of study, followed by the name of the sponsor and outside examiner. I invite you to follow along in your program and to read the more detailed descriptions of the work completed to be here today.

· These students have grappled with complex and important questions:

· How to create meaning, justify knowledge, and live morally?

· The effect of hip-hop culture and media on urban youth;

· The problem of measurement in quantum mechanics;

· The harvesting of wild plant species as a strategy for sustainability in the tropics;

· The politics of sisterhood and the problem of difference in the American feminist movement;

· The challenges of moving from a planned to a market economy and the role of privatization;

And much more.

In their exploration they have created an amazing body of work. Indeed, our IT department tells me that in our two computer labs we ran through 330,000 sheets of printer paper this year, 50,000 sheets in the last two weeks alone.

By my inexact count, this group has produced:

112 major papers;

3 dance performances;

4 plays;

4 films or videos;

3 collections of poetry;

2 works of fiction;

1 web site;

1 choral performance;

3 exhibits of photography;

7 mixed media presentations;

3 painting exhibitions;

1 translation;

3 books of photographs and text;

3 original musical compositions;

2 computer simulations;

1 autobiography;

AND

4 hand planes.

These weeks just ended have seen an incredible outpouring of creativity, imagination, and intellectual achievement.

The quality of that achievement is captured in the reviews of the outside evaluators. If I may read just three excerpts:

“So many young people are caught with the theater bug and have high hopes of going on and making a career out of it. Maybe one out of every 300 will do so. Tim is one of those special ones whom I believe will have the intelligence, talent, stamina, and resilience to go on with it, and --if he does –will be giving a gift to the rest of us by doing so.”

“Reid’s Plan not only kept my attention throughout, but her portrait of her students and the institutional difficulties they face will stay with me for some time. She is an excellent writer, and in whatever professional endeavor she pursues, this will place her far ahead of her colleagues. Her performance in the oral examination matched the excellence of her written work and showed her ability to argue for positions with eloquence.”

“A look at Skye’s Marlboro transcript might have predicted that she would do excellently on her plan. But not even a straight “A” record could guarantee a senior thesis as interesting and lively as this one. The plan is not only an indication of what the student has accomplished in her years at Marlboro but also what her teachers – Geraldine de Battle in particular – have been able to inspire, encourage, and refine. A resounding triumph for all.”

By the way, Tim Collins will be taking his play “Cuts” on the road;

Kerenza Reid will join Teach America and begin her preparation for teaching in the New York City School System; and

Skye Allen will head to the graduate program at the Committee for Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

They and their colleagues are up to much good. Stay tuned!

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