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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.


President Williams’s comments centered on the inscription on the traditional medallions given to the graduates before they enter the stadium. This year’s quote—“Intelligence plus character: that is the goal of true education”—was taken from an article written by Martin Luther King Jr. for his college newspaper.

“In Dr. King’s view, the purpose of an education is to produce young people who are both learned and compassionate,” said Williams. “What good is it to increase knowledge if it will not benefit society? What good is it to produce knowledgeable graduates who do not care about others? To Martin Luther King’s way of thinking, doing so would be a tremendous waste of time.” The president wrapped up her talk by telling the newest alumni, “You have developed a hunger for learning and for knowledge that will never be satisfied. This hunger will serve you well and will virtually ensure your success—wherever life leads you.”

In addition to honoring its graduates, the College recognized retired chemistry faculty member Glenn Vogel, who was named professor emeritus. The College also recorded a significant milestone, in graduating the first doctoral students in its 114-year history. Degrees from the new Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) program were awarded to 47 recipients.

— with Keith Davis

Some special faces and moments from Commencement 2006, from top: keynote speaker Bill Bradley with board of trustees chair William Haines (front left) and board and faculty members; class of 2006 executive board members David Campbell (treasurer), Channon Lucas (vice president), Eric Nagy (president), and Nicole Schmunk (secretary); President Peggy R. Williams with the first simultaneously graduating father-and-son combo in Ithaca College history, Bill Weeks (manager of network services in the Office of Informational Technology) and Ryan Weeks (starting graduate school this fall); ICQ student interns John Connelly (back) and Brynn Mannino (second from left) with members of Students for a Just Peace Michelle Gadot (left) and Julie Roberts (right) and Kathy Gasparine; ICQ intern Emily Miller and former ICQ student worker, now editorial assistant Ashley Fazio; another spectacular Commencement Eve concert

Photos by (three top left) Gary Gold; (bottom left and center) Thomas Hoebbel; (two at right) Sheryl D. Sinkow

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