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May 28, 2002

Ceremonies highlight special day on campus

From staff reports


In the predawn hours of May 13, Emory administrators were no doubt worrying whether the first Commencement in years would be affected by inclement weather. Advisories were posted on the University website, and contingency plans were consulted.

But a few hours later, as some 3,323 graduates filed onto the Quadrangle wearing their gowns and mortar boards, the sun broke through over Wood-ruff Library and Commence-ment 2002 was just like every other iteration has been in recent memory: bright and sunny.

Playwright and Atlanta native Alfred Uhry headlined the list of speakers/honorary degree recipients (see story below), which included mathematician and physicist Benoit Mandelbrot; Mamphela Ramphele, managing director of the World Bank and former president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa; and Vietnam veterans Hugh Thompson and Lawrence Colburn, two of the three American soldiers who went against orders and disrupted a U.S. massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968.

After President Bill Chace officially conferred degrees on the graduates from each University school, Association of Emory Alumni President Russell Ford, ’81 MBA, welcomed the newest class of alumni into the fold.
Following Susan Henry-Crowe’s benediction, the graduates—along with their families and friends—scattered to all parts of campus for individual school ceremonies. A brief recap of each ceremony follows:

Emory College
In her address, Class of 2002 orator Sarah Byrd investigated the meaning of the education she and the rest of her classmates received over the previous four years. Quoting Maya Angelou on the meaning of life, Byrd offered that “the answer [to education’s meaning] changes week to week.” For herself, the All-America cross-country runner said her most meaningful moments were also her toughest ones. “‘Why?’ we ask [when confronted with challenges],” Byrd said. “‘Why not?’ we should answer.”

Also in the Emory College ceremony, anthropology’s George Armelagos received the George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in Mentoring (see story), and retiring Senior Associate Dean Irwin Hyatt—himself the winner of the 2002 Thomas Jefferson Award—helped Center for Teaching and Curriculum Director Robert McCauley present teaching excellence awards to six faculty members: Cathryn Johnson (sociology), Steven L’Hernault (biology), Sally Raddell (dance), Joel Bowman (chemistry), Matthew Payne (history) and Judy Raggi Moore (Italian).

In a field that depends heavily on numbers, the Goizueta Business School produced some of its own impressive figures with this year’s graduating class.

GBS graduated 575 students in its school ceremony in the Woodruff P.E. Center immediately following the campuswide Commencement on the Quadrangle. Out of the graduates, 262 earned their BBAs, 206 graduated from the full-time MBA program, 64 graduated from the Executive MBA program and 43 graduated from the Evening MBA program, according to Harriet Ruskin, associate director of admissions.

Along with GBS Dean Thomas Robertson, Olga Goizueta, widow of the school’s namesake, Roberto Goizueta, helped present the newly minted graduates with their diplomas.

Graduate school
Gary Wihl, acting dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, praised the families and friends of the class of 2002 for standing behind and supporting the graduates. Wihl noted—as did President Bill Chace at the main Commencement ceremony—that the degrees handed out by the graduate school were the most difficult to obtain at Emory.

“The ability to produce original research represents a remarkable achievement,” Wihl said. “It is a solitary, long and difficult enterprise.”

Bagpipers and a jazz band gave the graduate school ceremony, which was tucked into the green outside Glenn Church School, an eclectic feel.

Law students and their families gathered on the south lawn in front of Gambrell Hall for their diploma ceremony, which was combined this year with the hooding ceremony. Interim Dean Peter Hay welcomed the
graduates and their families and introduced Amy Levin Weil, a 1981 graduate and president of the Emory Law Alumni Association, who encouraged the class to stay in touch with Emory.

Ethan Michael Rosenzweig, a Woodruff Scholar and chair of the 3L gift committee for the class of 2002, said class members wanted “to help change the shape of the law school,” and they did so. Rosenzweig presented the law school with a gift of $21,863 for a public interest loan forgiveness program.

Rosenzweig, who also gave the class speech, reminded graduates that “we have the education and responsibility to see that everyone has the chance to pursue their dreams.”

“Go forth with the enthusiasm with which you began medical school four years ago,” Dean Thomas Lawley told the 111 members of the School of Medicine’s 2002 graduating class.

Lawley was just one of several speakers who encouraged the medical school graduates. They also heard from Exec-utive Vice President of Health Affairs Michael Johns; Daniel Altman, the class speaker, and Judith Swain, chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University, who delivered the valedictory address, “Taking the Path Less Traveled.”

With razor-sharp timing and a sly storytelling manner, Altman was amusing yet sincere. His cut left hand wrapped with a large bandage, Altman used his injury to illustrate the importance of understanding that patients are not anonymous subjects. “Don’t forget you are treating people. Every patient is a ‘me,’” he said.

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing treated its graduates like Olympians—and fittingly so, since its Commencement speaker was Lea Ann Parsley, 2002 Olympic silver medalist.

Parsley, who is known for her outstanding performance in the first-ever Olympic women’s skeleton event, told the graduates she is more than an athlete—she is a seasoned volunteer firefighter in Ohio and most importantly, she is a nurse.

She thanked the school for inviting her to speak about her experiences, but admitted that she almost declined the invitation because she is terrified of public speaking. “But, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to a bunch of nurses,” she said, drawing thunderous applause from the graduates. The ceremony took place in the Nursing School courtyard.

Public Health
Dean James Curran of the Rollins School of Public Health announced that the school was awarding 299 graduate degrees to students from 46 states and 31 countries around the world.

Then, as has become his Commencement day custom, Curran invited the mothers and grandmothers in the crowd to take a pot of flowers with them as they left.

Speaker Audrey Forbes Manley, president of Spelman College and former acting and deputy surgeon general of the United States, told the newest class of public health professionals that they are entering a world “where you are always on call.” In her remarks, Manley recounted growing up poor in rural Mississippi and the life journey that took her to Cook County Hospital in Chicago and later to the surgeon general’s office.

Student speaker Kari Greene reassured her classmates: “Clearly passion and fatalism battle for space in our hearts as we leave Rollins,” she said. “[But] if you don’t work on important problems, it’s not likely you will do important work.”

With Bach playing before the ceremony, and Beethoven during it—as well as a Latvian hymn gloriously sung by the Candler Choraliers—the Candler School of Theology’s diploma ceremony was certainly Emory’s most

Dean Russell Richey gave a brief address before the diplomas were handed out.

“You’ve come this far by faith,” he said. The line is from a gospel song most often sung in African American churches. The reference by Richey, who is white, was met with laughter and applause from the both the
graduates and their families.