Summer 2008: Emory’s 163rd Commencement

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Oxford’s Golden Morning

Oxford graduates say goodbye

By Mary J. Loftus

A “golden morning” awaited the graduates of Oxford College on May 10, noted Dean Stephen Bowen, as they gathered under the Temple of the Trees at Emory’s home campus in Oxford to take part in the college’s 163rd Commencement. The ceremony recognized 324 Oxford graduates who received their associate of arts degrees on this fair, slightly breezy Saturday morning.

Emory Dean Robert Paul, the Commencement speaker, asked the class to consider what it means to be a liberal arts scholar in America in the twenty-first century.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once pointed out, Paul said, “no time or place has any monopoly on originality and greatness, and our present day is as fit an era for new and wonderful intellectual achievements as were the days of classical Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, or Shakespeare’s England.”

Paul, a cultural anthropologist and psychoanalyst who maintains a private practice, said the idea of the research university—imported from Europe—took root and flourished here toward the end of the nineteenth century. “The university system is one of our country’s greatest and proudest institutions, and for most of the second half of the twentieth century it was the aspiration and envy of the rest of the world,” he said. “Our system—the one in which you have been educated here at Oxford—is based on the premise that higher education serves not only to train future professionals, but also to produce the future informed citizenry upon whom the essence and hope of democracy depends.”

Dean of Campus Life Joseph Moon presented the Eady Sophomore Service Award to Allison Anne Vinson 08Ox. Vinson, president of the Oxford Chorale, actively involved in the culinary club, the environmental awareness club, a lab assistant, and member of Leadership Oxford, represents “what’s best about this generation of Oxford students,” said Moon. Those who nominated Vinson described her as “creative, positive, loving, spontaneous, and caring.”

Vinson’s family, including father Art Vinson 66Ox 68C, sister Alexandra Hope Vinson 05Ox 07C, and Jonathan Vinson 91Ox 99M, has a long and enduring Oxford legacy; Alexandra was the Eady award recipient in 2005.

Brothers Mark Daniel 79Ox 81C and Bill Daniel 73Ox 75C, also in attendance, were the only other siblings ever to receive Eady awards.

Dean of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Kent Linville presented the Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching to Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Philosophy Kenneth Anderson. His students said Anderson’s “knowledge of the subject matter motivated me,” that he had “helped expand my perspective on life,” and that he “loves teaching, and what he’s teaching.”

And then, as Seney Hall’s bell struck the hour, bouquets of fresh flowers were gathered up, and digital cameras flashed, the graduates made their procession.

“Go now,” said Chaplain Judy Shema, “and celebrate your accomplishment.”

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