Franklin & Marshall's Class of 2013 faces challenges in the 21st century that will demand men and women be agents of change for the nation, and the world, to progress, former Ambassador Melanne S. Verveer said during the College's Commencement ceremony May 11.
Verveer, who from 2009 to 2012 served as the United States' first ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, noted in her Commencement address that just in the two decades since F&M's 590 graduating participants were born, immense progress in technology, science and medicine has been made. However, modern society continues to struggle with issues such as gender inequity, violence and depletion of natural resources, she said.
"With all the progress we have made, the toughest challenge remains to transform human behavior," she said. "History also tells us that we must try to reconcile our differences, to create opportunities, to engage in service no matter what profession we pursue, to empower others who are powerless, to be change-makers."
Just before Verveer's address, Alexis Teevens '13 embodied those very words in her speech to classmates upon receiving F&M's Williamson Medal, the College's most prestigious academic award for student achievement.
"As we get ready to leave this school, I hope we can all remember that vibrant community anywhere starts with one person reaching out to help another," said Teevens, who this fall will teach underprivileged children at the public Brooke Charter Schools in Boston.
"I know we can continue to be that one person for each other," she said. "I have faith that we can spread that support to the communities we go out to create moving forward because I think that's the most important part of the Franklin & Marshall legacy for us to spread."
In his address, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield sounded a similar theme, noting the depth of what the College's education means to the students and the world.
"As much as any college in this country, Class of 2013, your College, your alma mater reflects the old and enduring American idea of education as a democratic act," Porterfield said. "It is part of who you are to believe in and to support -- for this country and the world."
Among the many aspects of liberal arts education, Porterfield said, "This is the tradition that sees you as the shapers of civilization, not simply as employees in someone else's business, and seeks to embolden with freedom of thought and the mindset to create."
Celebrating 225 Years
Inclement weather brought ceremonies inside F&M's Alumni Sports and Fitness Center, bedecked with the flags of countries around the world where more than 4,000 guests listened to the College's Commencement Wind Ensemble, directed by Brian Norcross, conductor of instrumental ensembles.
Included in the musical arrangement was the piece "CCXXV," written in honor of F&M's 225th anniversary by John Carbon, the Richard S. and Ann B. Barshinger Professor of Music. The Commencement ceremony was part of a yearlong series of events celebrating the anniversary of the College's founding in 1787 with a gift of 200 British pounds from Benjamin Franklin.
In noting F&M's reach now extends across the country and around the world with students from 41 countries, Verveer complimented the College, saying, "Benjamin Franklin's initial gift has certainly paid off."
Citing numerous examples of gender inequality and oppression against women around the world, Verveer urged the graduates to help bring about the "full participation of women in every facet of human endeavor."
Verveer told the graduating seniors she hoped they would "raise your voices on behalf of those who still, in too many places, are unable to raise their own. Neither men nor women alone can reconcile the challenges of our world with opportunity. We must do it together, just as you've worked together here at Franklin & Marshall."
Honors and Awards Conferred
In addition to awarding the Williamson Medal to Teevens, the College conferred honors of the highest recognition to faculty members and professional staff.
F&M honored Professor of Religious Studies David McMahan with the Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship, and the John W. Wetzel Professor of Classics and Professor of Government Dean Hammer with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Russell O'Connell, F&M's sculpture shop supervisor and exhibition coordinator for the Phillips Museum of Art, received the Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award.
In addition to Verveer, honorary degrees were conferred upon Stanley Dudrick '57, the medical science pioneer who discovered how to feed nutrition intravenously to post-operative patients who cannot eat food, and Jane Moss '74, vice president of programming at Lincoln Center.
To view more photos from Commencement and download high-resolution images, visit F&M's Commencement 2013 Flickr gallery.
Information about ordering Commencement photos and DVDs is available online.