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05-16-1999

Clarkson University Students Graduate

More than 500 students from 22 states, 16 countries and 61 of New York's counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University's Commencement today (May 16). (Nearly 200 more students received degrees at an earlier ceremony in December.) More than 4,000 parents, relatives and friends attended the ceremony. The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of United States Army and Air Force officers on Saturday, May 15.

Receiving honorary degrees and making short speeches at the ceremony were New York State Lieutenant Governor Mary O. Donohue; noted author and ecological agriculture leader Wes Jackson, president of the Land Institute; retired CIGNA Corporation Executive Vice President Thomas H. Dooley, a Clarkson alumnus and University trustee; and retired General Dynamics Corporation Executive Vice President Ralph E. Hawes Jr., a Clarkson alumnus, trustee and former chair of the Clarkson Board of Trustees.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Amy K. Zander of Madrid was awarded the Clarkson University Distinguished Teaching Award. The $1,500 prize is given "in recognition of the importance of superior teaching" by nomination of alumni and by selection a faculty committee.

Senior Sephir D. Hamilton of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was given the Levinus Clarkson Award, and Kelley L. Frosino of Rochester, N.Y., was given the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes, awarded by vote of the full faculty to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement."

Lt. Governor Donohue said, in part, "My mother and father raised myself and my four siblings... with the theme of individual responsibility, and the power of the individual... That forged our adulthood...with strength, discipline, a committed work ethic, and an emphasis on traditional values. The power of the individual was always stressed. It was the principle that has guided myself and my family through our lives-- a principle that has helped me reach my goals and dreams.

... Life will hand you magical, unexpected moments when you feel that you have reached your peak or hit the bottom-- rock bottom. At those moments something will arise that will keep you afloat, keep you motivated to take that next step.||||

... As you begin...the next phase of your lives, keep in mind that...you'll come across stumbling blocks or new opportunities that are far from the plans that you have here this morning. You may be forced to make decisions that will scare you, as many of mine have scared me...||||

... And my advice to you, graduates, is be bold. Every minute in what you stand for as an individual, what you believe in, always maintain the highest faith in yourself beyond all others, and in your own individual, very unique abilities. And let your own individual dream be your only limitation. Go for it and best of luck as you do.

Land Institute President Wes Jackson said, in part, "The self-organizing principles of human economies that have evolved over the last 10,000 years are inherently at odds with the self-organizing principles of ecosystems that have evolved over the last three and a half billion years.

As our economic indicators go up, the ecological indicators go down. Soil erosion on a global level is at an all time high. And at no time since the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago, has there been such a loss of biodiversity in so short a time. And when we think about global warming and the ozone hole, it's sobering to reflect that in this century alone it has been possible for one species to disrupt the earth's biogeochemical processes more than locally. And finally, In this decade of the '90s alone, our planet will have added nearly one billion people, nearly twice as many of us being added in ten years, as the planet supported at the time of Columbus.||||

In short, fundamentally different ways of thinking about this planet are required. We can no longer be ignorant of evolutionary ecological realities, which we and the rest of creation share. Humanity's charge for the next century, for which you must provide leadership, is to recognize the great commonality of all life forms on this planet. For whether we're a redwood or a whale, a corn plant or a Holstein, it's the same 20 amino acids, and the same four nucleic acid bases that code in the same manner. This is a requirement for us to more harmoniously work to create ways to live within the natural laws. Ecology and economy, which share this same Greek root, can then be reconciled.||||

... The greatest leverage for assisting ourselves in these new ways of thinking will come from remembering an old reality we have nearly lost sight of-- which is that when people, land and community are as one, all members prosper. When regarded as competing interests, all suffer. The new ways of thinking must combine with this old nearly forgotten realization.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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