Hats Off to the Class of 2006!
Bill Bradley helps dedicated College staff and faculty send off an exceptionally involved class to the wider world.
Photo by Thomas Hoebbel
I’ve now attended nine Commencement ceremonies at Ithaca College, and every time I have been amazed at how smoothly things run. The staff from Physical Plant and the Offices of the Provost, Registrar, Conference and Events Services, Alumni Relations, and all the other offices and departments involved do a stupendous job of making several thousand graduates, friends, and family members welcome; of ensuring that the procession is in order; the guest speaker and other dignitaries are appropriately shepherded and shuttled; thousands of people are seated; the ceremony runs perfectly; diplomas are received; and later that everyone is fed and feted. My hat’s off to all involved.
That said, somehow this year seemed even better than previous years. Perhaps it was because we were all gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of a remarkable class. I’ve been crazy about any number of students at IC in my nine years here, but the class of 2006 is to my mind the most memorable as a group.
Perhaps being the first post-9/11 high school graduating class and watching their country wage a war during college had an effect on their desire to leave
a positive mark
on the world.
Photos by Gary Gold
Professor Mary Arlin ’61, who retired this year after 40 years of teaching in the School of Music
These young people were members of the first post–September 11 high school graduating class, and perhaps that fact and the fact that the United States entered a war during their freshman year in college had an effect on their desire to leave a positive mark on the world. The class of 2006 included the College’s first cohort of Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars, whose scholarship and community service both on and off campus extended to starting the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for Social Justice, to which they have invited anyone to contribute. The seven graduating student leaders from Students for a Just Peace, a student organization, could look back on four years of increasingly well researched, informed, and thoughtful actions and educational events designed to bring awareness of issues of war and peace, dialogue and reconciliation. The Student Government Association, led by seniors, worked hard to educate government leaders in Albany and Washington, D.C., about how crucial our government’s support of financial aid is.
And as if to underscore its understanding of the value and privilege of a college education, the class of 2006 raised the highest amount of dollars— $29,197—of any class in IC history as its parting gift to the College. At Commencement, senior class president Eric Nagy joined his fellow class officers in presenting President Peggy R. Williams and Steve White ’66, trustee and past president of the Ithaca College Alumni Association, with the gift, to which the Fred L. Emerson Foundation of Auburn added a $25,000 match. The majority of the money will be used to endow the Class of 2006 Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and involvement in the College community.
The day’s speakers reflected the values demonstrated by the class as a whole. The class chose as its Commencement speaker Bill Bradley, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate. Bradley urged the graduates to be ready for whatever is on the horizon. In a world being transformed by rapidly increasing globalization and far-reaching technological advances, he noted, change is constant and dramatic. Successfully meeting the challenges of a world where the unexpected becomes the norm requires a sound grounding based not only on a honed intellect, but also on the capacity to see, to feel, and to give. Bradley urged the graduates “to see beyond your immediate task to the larger world around you; to see the interrelatedness of life. To see that the dichotomies between urban and suburban, black and white, Muslims and Christians, liberals and conservatives pale in comparison to our common humanity. And to see that hatred is a self-indulgence Americans cannot afford. . . . To feel your neighbor’s pain and suffering as well as her joy. To feel a family member’s love and return it in full measure. To feel your own strengths and weaknesses, and from that knowledge face the future with clarity. . . . I hope that you develop the capacity and the inclination to give without the expectation of getting something in return.”
In his address, class president Nagy expressed his appreciation for the knowledge he and his classmates had gained during their Ithaca College careers, and even more so for the lifelong relationships. “May we never forget the most significant lesson we ever learned at Ithaca—that there is nothing more important than the relationships you have with the people you love,” he said.