ICQ --- 2002/No. 3


by Maura Stephens

James Earl Jones speaks to the class of 2002 of responsibilities and of dreams.



JonesThe 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.

Rain delayOn 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 Studying the medallionCollege 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 Catherine Bateson:

‘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 future."

"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 Award.


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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 17 October, 2002