C O M M E N C E M E N T
1 9 9 8
The XIV Dalai Lama exhorts graduates to combine education and kindness
BY ALLISON O. ADAMS
The healing arts at the Carlos Museum
Tibetan Buddhist Studies Institute inaugurated
First family of film
Law graduates entrusted with new responsibility
McMullan honoree headed into international law
Four receive honorary degrees
From the Commencement address of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
Wrapped in his ample Buddhist monk's robes of burgundy and saffron, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, entered the Emory Quadrangle amidst a colorful stream of academic regalia with administrators, trustees, faculty, graduates, and other honorees for the University's one hundred and fifty-third Commencement. Beaming from the platform to the crowd of seventeen thousand beneath a resplendent blue sky, His Holiness remarked, "I look around here today on this beautiful sight with lots of color and trees in full blossom, on this joyful occasion [that] marks the culmination of many years of hard work and study, and it seems that even the sun is participating and trying to show its glory and brilliance."
Winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize for Peace, the Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of six million Tibetan people and is considered by his followers to be the reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of compassion. He lives in India, in exile from Tibet, which was invaded by the Chinese in 1949. A decade later, when the Chinese government crushed a Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama and eighty thousand other Tibetans fled the country.
The Dalai Lama's four-day visit in May was his third to Emory (he first came to campus in 1987 and again in 1995). It marked the inauguration of the Summer Institute for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, a six-week program that immerses students in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and culture. The program was launched in conjunction with the Atlanta-based Loseling Institute, the North American seat of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, now in exile in India.
The Summer Institute for Tibetan Buddhist Studies is unique as a joint venture between a Western university and a Tibetan scholarly institution. During his Emory visit, the Dalai Lama delivered the inaugural lecture of the summer program, spoke before an interfaith gathering of Emory community members, met privately with faculty and administrators, led two teachings in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices in Emory's Woodruff Physical Education Center, and offered one public lecture.
His Holiness also delivered the main Commencement address, encouraging graduates to balance knowledge with compassion. "I believe that education is like an instrument," he said. "Whether that instrument is used properly [and] constructively or in a different way depends on the user. Education and the warm heart, the compassionate heart-if you combine these two, then your education, your knowledge, will be constructive. Your whole life will be constructive and happy. And certainly you can make immense benefit for society and the betterment of humanity."
The Dalai Lama, who received an honorary doctor of divinity degree, was among some thirty-two hundred degree recipients the morning of May 11. During Commencement, 1,617 undergraduate degrees were conferred, as well as 1,104 graduate degrees, 473 professional degrees, 49 joint degrees, and 85 certificates. Forty-eight states and eighty-one nations were represented by the graduates, who included two hundred and eighty-eight students from outside the United States. Forty-eight graduates were over age fifty, including the eldest, sixty-year-old Barbara Palmer, who earned a master of divinity degree. The youngest degree recipient, eighteen-year-old Mica Hilson, earned dual bachelor's and master's degrees in English.
Three other honorary degrees were awarded. Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences and an influential scholar of DNA replication, was granted an honorary doctor of science degree for his efforts to revolutionize science education.
Judge Phyllis Kravitch, a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, received an honorary doctor of laws degree. And Georgia Governor Zell Miller, who will become a Presidential Distinguished Fellow in History and Political Science at Emory when his second term ends in January, was granted an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Also honored during the ceremony was Emory College graduate Adam Taylor, who received the Marion Luther Brittain Award, the University's highest student honor. An international studies major, Taylor is known for his efforts in conflict resolution and reconciliation. As part of The Carter Center conflict resolution program, he analyzed disputes in Nigeria, Spain, Liberia, and Somalia. As a workshop leader for the National Coalition Building Institute, Taylor conducted prejudice-reduction training for Emory students and staff. Dean of Campus Life Frances Lucas-Tauchar recalled, "During Adam's sophomore year, we had some racial tension on our campus, and one day he showed up at my office door and said, 'Dean, I have some ideas that might bring us together.' Adam led us in a long healing conversation with administrators, police, angry students, faculty, and staff to talk about ways we could heal. It wasn't easy, but that conversation lessened the tensions, and the progress began."
Taylor will spend a year as a fellow in the New York Department of Urban Development before attending the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. "He will be a community activist, educator, good friend, counselor, and student wherever he goes," Lucas-Tauchar said. "His vision will surely influence his leadership as he works toward helping the underprivileged."
Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology George H. Jones was selected to receive the University Scholar/Teacher Award. As dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1989 to 1995, Jones established the Teaching Assistants and Teacher Training Opportunity program, through which graduate students gain training and practice as teachers. "Your commitment to opening scientific and educational careers to minority populations historically less drawn to those fields stands as a beacon, as a challenge to us all," University President William M. Chace read from the award citation.
In recognition of his service to the University, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Cell Biology Robert L. DeHaan received the Thomas Jefferson Award, presented annually to an administrator or faculty member. A former chair of the graduate division of biological and biomedical sciences, DeHaan was the founding director of the Emory Center for Ethics in Public Policy and the Professions. Since launching the Elementary Science Education Partners initiative in 1995, he has received nearly $6 million in funding to have undergraduates and Atlanta public school teachers collaborate toward more effective teaching of science in elementary schools.
After the honors were presented, President Chace conferred the degrees-in-course to the Class of 1998, declaring, "You are all privileged to have embarked while at Emory on an education of the kind that is not easy to achieve anywhere in the world. And you have every right to be proud of what you have accomplished in pursuit of it. Our warmest congratulations to all of you."
Previous Emory Magazine Commencement coverage
Return to Summer 1998 contents page
Return to Emory Magazine home page
Return to Emory University homepage