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05-08-2005

More Than 700 Students Receive Degrees At Clarkson’s 112th Commencement Ceremony

[JPEG images of commencement are available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/comm2005a.jpg http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/comm2005b.jpg and http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/comm2005c.jpg]

Approximately 700 students from 31 states, 27 countries and 57 of New York’s counties were granted bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University’s commencement today (May 8). One hundred eighty-six additional students received their degrees at an earlier ceremony in December. Nearly 5,500 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 7.

Receiving honorary degrees and making short speeches were Kathryn S. Fuller, President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Wildlife Fund; Dr. Andreas “Andy” Acrivos, Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science and Engineering at the City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University; and Russell Banks, renowned literary author. comm2005

Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Ratneshwar Jha was awarded the John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award. This $1,500 research account is presented to “a faculty member who has shown promise in engineering, management, liberal studies, or scientific research.”

Senior Nadeeka D. Yapa of Hannawa Falls, New York was given the Levinus Clarkson Award, and senior Daniel S. Cohen of Minetto, New York was given the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes, awarded to “a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement.”

World Wildlife President and CEO Kathryn S. Fuller told the graduating class “Stepping back to see the interconnectedness of all life is one of the great gifts of sight that nature conservation can give you. Humans for all our politics and preoccupation with ourselves are not quite as an important a species as we may think. Remove us from the picture and we would not be much missed. Remove bees and other pollinators and most of the fruits and vegetables we eat would disappear. Take away the microorganisms from the sea or soil and whole ecosystems would collapse. Fuller emphasized that of she was not trying to sound apocalyptic, but trying to make the point that one of the lessons that the observation of nature teaches you is that all life on earth, all life, including ours depends diversity. On the myriad ways that all species, small and large, simple and complex, interact in the grand biotic enterprise we call the web of life.”

Fuller went on to say “Keep that in mind because diversity is important not only to the biological enterprise we call civilization, but to the grand social enterprise we call civilization. “Keep open in heart and mind, value the opinions of others, especially those who disagree with you. We are in it together; Republicans Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Americans and people from every Nation and by last count at least 10 million other species both large and very very small.” Fuller ended with a Winston Churchill quote “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” She then encouraged the graduates to give to others and get involved.

City College of the City University of New York Albert Einstein Professor Emeritus of Science and Engineering Andreas Acrivos reminisced how he came to the U.S. in 1947 from Greece with only a few dollars in his pocket, and no family, but he carried with him something infinitely more precious than cash, a superb high school education in the classics and mathematics. “That training prepared me how to think, how to study on my own and how to overcome obstacles, academic or otherwise, that came my way,” said Acrivos. “If I succeeded, given where I came from, there is no reason why all of you shouldn’t be equally successful.”

“On that day, September 11, 2001, one era in American history ended and another began – economically, technologically, militarily, psychologically, everything changed….In a few years when those of us who are older than you are gone, all Americans younger than you who will have no memory whatsoever of the American that existed before 9/11.

“I urge you graduates to start now, or tomorrow morning, writing your autobiography, as you remember it, before you forget it.”

[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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