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May 29, 2001

SF Chronicle writer keynotes Oxford ceremony

By Michael Terrazas


Alumnus Keay Davidson ’73Ox, ’75C delivered the main address at Oxford’s Commencement ceremony, held May 12 on the Oxford Quadrangle.

“Hey folks,” an off-the-cuff Davidson greeted the assembled crowd on a brilliant Saturday morning.

A science writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Davidson has written a biography of Carl Sagan, and his biography of Thomas Kuhn will soon be published. Davidson also wrote Twister: The Science of Tornadoes and the Making of an Adventure Movie.

“I was never much of a student, but I love this hat,” Davidson said, taking off and examining the cap he wore atop his ceremonial graduation gown. “It makes me look like Groucho Marx. I won’t wear it during my speech because it might detract from any seriousness I might attempt.”

And, despite the lighthearted manner with which David-son delivered his remarks, there were nuggets of serious advice for Oxford’s 2001 graduates to take to heart. “Don’t live your life according to a script written by someone else,” he advised the students. Instead of asking why they aren’t more like this person or that person, Davidson continued, “Ask yourself, ‘Why aren’t I more like myself?’ Live life according to your script.”

Davidson marveled at how much Oxford had changed since his days there, and at how much it remained the same. An irreverent writer for the student newspaper The Spokesman during his time at Oxford, David-son said he engaged in the “usual pranks” as a student. “Which I hope were all illegal,” he said. “They wouldn’t be as much fun if they weren’t. Pranks made up for my total lack of a sex life.”

Following Davidson’s address, Oxford Dean Dana Greene presented him with the Dean’s Medal for his lifetime of work in support of the ideals of the college.

Greene then introduced Associate Dean Joe Moon, who presented the college’s Eady Sophomore Service Award to Charlie Burnett. Created in 1969 and named for former Dean Virgil Eady, the award recognizes the student who, in the judgment of faculty, performed the most outstanding service to campus life during the academic year.

Finally, before the 194 Oxford graduates were announced one-by-one and received their associate’s degrees from President Bill Chace, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Kent Linville presented an Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching to sociology Professor Michael McQuaide.

A Universitywide distinction, McQuaide’s honor marks only the second time an Oxford faculty member has received an Emory Williams Award.

McQuaide also is the first Oxford professor to win all of the college’s major teaching honors, having already received the Mizell, Fleming and Phi Beta Kappa awards.


Back to Emory Report May 29, 2001