Emory Report

May 18, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 32

A day of 'glory and brilliance'
for the '98 Commencement

If there is a such a thing as a recipe for Commencement Day, Emory surely served up an award-winning buffet this year with a ceremony and surrounding atmosphere that approached perfection.

Topping the list of ingredients was the speaker. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama drew a standing ovation after his introduction, then proceeded to charm the crowd with a speech delivered half through a translator and half through his own "broken English." "You have achieved a certain goal," said the Dalai Lama, "and now you begin another chapter. Now you start real life. Real life may be more complicated."

Nearly as important was the weather. Even His Holiness commented on the sun's cooperation as it rose slowly over Woodruff Library and turned an already special day into something more for 3,232 graduates. And just when the heat threatened to rise above comfort level, a cool breeze would brush over the Quadrangle with a rustle of leaves, and the crowd sighed in relief.

To open the ceremony, the Dalai Lama waited onstage as the kilted Atlanta Pipe Band with their bagpipes led the robed academic procession in from the southeast corner of the Quad, in front of the Carlos Museum and across the grass, splitting the rows of mortar board-clad graduates. Among those following behind Chief Marshal Ray DuVarney were the three other honorary degree recipients, Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, biologist Bruce Alberts and Justice Phyllis Kravitch of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In introducing the Dalai Lama, whose first visit to Emory was in 1987, President Bill Chace said the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet was an inspiration who felt "equally at ease with presidents, royalty, Richard Gere and the Beastie Boys." And following the Dalai Lama's speech, Chace remarked, "Thank you, your Holiness. You've shown us how to transform broken English into perfect eloquence."

After the commencement address, Provost Rebecca Chopp recognized the 49 joint degree recipients and introduced Campus Life Dean Frances Lucas-Tauchar, who presented Adam Taylor with the 1998 Marion Luther Brittain Award. Behavioral Sciences Professor Elaine Walker introduced George Jones, Goodrich C. White Professor of Biology, as the recipient of the University Scholar/ Teacher Award, and Chancellor Billy Frye introduced the winner of this year's Thomas Jefferson Award, Candler Professor Robert DeHaan of cell biology.

Emory Board of Trustees Chairman Bradley Currey then stood and authorized Chace to grant the 1998 honorary degrees. Theology Dean Kevin LaGree introduced the Dalai Lama to Chace to receive his degree and be hooded; Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Johns introduced Alberts; Law School Dean Howard Hunter introduced Kravitch; and College Dean Steven Sanderson introduced Gov. Miller.

In bestowing degrees unto the 1998 classes, Chace made a happy moment even better for the graduates by punctuating the ceremony with his wit. In asking the various groups of graduates to sit after being granted their degrees "and all the rights, honors, privileges and responsibilities thereto," Chace sometimes drew laughs by tailoring the request to the group. To the law school graduates he said, "You are hereby enjoindered to take your seats"; to the especially boisterous bachelor's recipients of the business school, "Will you please sit down?"; and to the MBA recipients, "Would you take an offer to sit down?"

Finally, in his closing remarks Chace invoked Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, calling those 271 words "one of the finest speeches in history." "I will follow the rule of Gettysburg," Chace added, "and my remarks will be brief.

"These graduates shall never again be as they were before," Chace said. "We loose these minds upon the world. You all came to us in a state of excited unreadiness; you enter the world in the same way."

Emory Chaplain Susan Henry-Crowe delivered the benediction and then prevailed upon His Holiness to offer a chant in closing. The Dalai Lama obliged, and murmured Buddhist sounds of the Tibetan mountains ushered the 1998 Emory commencement class into the rest of their lives.

-Michael Terrazas

Return to May 18, 1998 Contents Page