For Richard Plepler ’81, the road from aspiring graduate to chairman and CEO of Home Box Office Inc. was at times tough and frustrating. But by persevering and staying true to himself, he has succeeded in life.
Quoting the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, the principal speaker for Franklin & Marshall’s 2015 Commencement ceremony told participants, “I believe with Emerson, that if a man planted himself on his convictions and hopes, ‘the huge world would come ’round to him.’ I always felt that, and all these years later, I still do.”
Addressing more than 3,000 students, faculty, family members and guests on Hartman Green, Plepler also referred to the words of one of baseball’s legends, Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams.
“‘Never let anyone monkey with your swing,’” the erudite HBO chief said. “That’s not the same thing as being inordinately stubborn, or refusing to listen, adjust or modify your behavior. It’s simply to say, keep your style yours. Don’t alter it for anyone. Whatever your intrinsic swing, work at it, perfect it, but keep it yours.”
The Class of 2015 is the first cohort to have studied at the College exclusively under the leadership of President Daniel R. Porterfield, who arrived at F&M in 2011. “Change is life,” Porterfield said in an address that touched on the critical importance of a liberal arts education in shaping and growing the mind and spirit. “And so, I ask you, the graduates of the Class of 2015, to value your liberal arts education, to advocate for it, to defend it, to help it change, and to secure this way of learning for those who will follow you.”
The College conferred a series of annual awards at the ceremony, including the highest recognition for students, faculty members and professional staff. Rachel Codkind ’15 received the Williamson Medal, F&M’s most prestigious award to a graduating senior. A Rouse Scholar at the College, Codkind discussed the impact of her wide-ranging college experiences.
“I entered Franklin & Marshall as a very shy and reserved student, intent to remain anonymous in a crowd,” she said. “But F&M was not as content to allow me to remain invisible.” – Peter Durantine
Visit www.fandm.edu/commencement for additional coverage of Commencement, including full remarks from Richard Plepler ’81, F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield and Rachel Codkind ’15.
Williamson Medal: Rachel Codkind ’15
Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship: Michael Anderson, associate professor of psychology
Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching: Lynn Matluck Brooks, Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of Humanities and Dance
Socrates Citations (for retiring professors): Robert Gray, The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government; Professor of German Cecile Zorach; and Professor of Russian Lina Bernstein
Richard Kneedler Distinguished Service Award: Christine Alexander, registrar and associate director of institutional research
Honorary Degrees: Robert Kwesi Koomson ’97, math teacher and founder of the Heritage Academy in Ghana; Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of Home Box Office Inc.; and Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology