class of 2002 had a difficult senior year, which may have given
them an especially forceful reason to enjoy their Commencement.
Together they’d witnessed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
against the United States, and they’d grieved for the dead and bereaved,
along with their fellow Ithaca College community members and the
nation. Together they struggled to understand the tragedy and the
events that followed. They hugged on the quads and in the chapel,
debated in classes and in dorm rooms. But they made it through to
finals and then to Senior Week, when they played together in anticipation
of their upcoming graduation.
Saturday, May 18, the morning dawned raw, cold, and blustery, and
there was even a little bit of snow. But that wasn’t enough to stop
the celebration. Although Commencement was delayed by three hours,
by 1:00 p.m. Butterfield Stadium was filled with graduates’ families
and friends, and the procession of dignitaries, faculty, and graduates
was greeted by smiles and waves and cheers. William Haines delivered
his first salutation as chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees,
and the ceremony was in full swing.
President Williams explained their medallions to the newest
grads: "On one side of your medallions is the official
seal, recognizing the history, tradition, and mission of the
College. While this side of the medallion has remained constant
for every graduate since we began this tradition, the other
side includes a quotation that is unique to your class. This
year the quotation is from Composing a Life by Mary
‘Composing a life involves a continual reimagining of the
future.’ The composing of your life is a never-ending process.
Important moments such as today are appropriate times to pause
and look back, as you continue to dream and plan for your
"I encourage you to stay in touch and join in helping continue
Ithaca College’s rich tradition of excellence," said Haines,
before President Peggy R. Williams took the podium to introduce
the guest speaker.
"It has been said of great speakers that they could read the
phone book and make it sound like Shakespeare," said Williams.
"James Earl Jones has literally done so. . . . We are fortunate
to have that voice --- and the extraordinary man behind it --- as
our guest speaker today." Jones, who has been gracing television
and movie screens with his imposing presence for more than 40 years,
is known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies
and the voice of Verizon Communications. He has received two Tony
Awards, three Emmy Awards, and an Oscar nomination; his honors also
include the National Medal of Arts and the NAACP Hall of Fame Image