Commencement Confetti

Student linen-crew workers made up the dorm beds that would welcome reunioners. Some beds were then changed as alumni departed and new ones...

Student linen-crew workers made up the dorm beds that would welcome reunioners. Some beds were then changed as alumni departed and new ones arrived. According to supervisor Robert Wolfreys, the students made up approximately 4,300 beds before their work was done.

 

TALK, A SAMPLER

"I'd like to begin by thanking the class marshals for inviting me here today," said Class Day guest speaker Conan O'Brien '85, the host of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. "The last time I was invited to Harvard, it cost me $110,000." O'Brien announced his goal for the afternoon. "I want to be half as funny as tomorrow's Commencement speaker, moral philosopher and economist Amartya Sen." O'Brien's remarks may be found in their virtual entirety at www.harvard-magazine.com.

Andrew S. Grove, the chairman of Intel, was Class Day speaker at the Business School and would receive an honorary degree the next day. In making decisions, he said, "use intuition and analysis, not intuition or analysis....Bounce your decision, if driven by intuition, off the analytical skills you have acquired at such expense."

Donna E. Shalala, U.S. secretary of health and human services, made a whirlwind appearance to deliver the Class Day address at the Kennedy School. She gave her audience of almost ripened "wonks-in-training" this tip: "Be flexible, and don't expect to win every time. Standing on principle is not the same as standing in cement."

A survivor of civil war in her native Nigeria and a candidate for a master's degree in public health delivered the Graduate English Address at the Commencement exercises. During the war, when she was nine, said Arese Ukpoma Carrington, her father told her, "Look after your younger siblings. They are defenseless. You must defend the defenseless." "Defend the defenseless," Carrington exhorted her audience. "Of all the things that I have witnessed, the most compelling is the power of love that knows no boundaries. The most disheartening is the power of hate that builds all boundaries."

 

RECALLING THE NAUGHTY OLD DAYS

In a preamble to her "Songs for Scientists, Parts 1 and 2" at the Phi Beta Kappa exercises, poet Heather McHugh '69 made something of her free-spirited Harvard past, which apparently contributed to a delay in getting her degree. Describing herself as "chastened but not chaste," she said she was glad to be invited back and honored on such a formal occasion in such a formal way. In her time at Harvard, she said, "'liberal' arts seemed so busy indulging the adjective, they forgot the noun."

 

AFTER THE FALL

Radcliffe and Harvard merged last fall. At the annual luncheon of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association the day after Commencement, Mary Maples Dunn, acting dean of the Radcliffe Institute, stepped to the podium and said, "It's customary at this time for the president or dean to say a few words about the past year, and what I would say is, 'Whew!'"

The Radcliffe Medal went to Susan Love, M.D., a breast cancer specialist at UCLA, who said, "There is no question, we have the potential of seeing the eradication of breast cancer in my lifetime." She is 52.

Next October, the RCAA will formally consider changing its name to the Radcliffe Association and amending its bylaws to reflect a mission of support for the Radcliffe Institute, rather than Radcliffe College.

Because this year, for the first time in history, undergraduate women were members of Harvard College, Dunn had no official role on Commencement morning. But after conferring degrees on undergraduates, President Neil L. Rudenstine introduced both Dunn and Drew Gilpin Faust, dean-elect of the Radcliffe Institute, to the throng in Tercentenary Theatre.

 

AWARD ON HOLD

The $5,000 Captain Jonathan Fay Prize, Radcliffe College's highest honor for a graduating woman, was not awarded this year. In the wake of the merger, the prize may no longer legally be restricted to women, and officials of the new Radcliffe Institute and Harvard College needed more time to decide on what revised criteria the award would be based in future so as to satisfy the law, and honor the spirit, of the 1907 gift establishing the prize. Some gender-specific prizes were awarded--as, for example, the Paul Revere Frothingham Prize to a graduating senior exhibiting "manliness" among required character traits. Noah Z. Seton of Kirkland House and Pound Ridge, New York, went away with that one. Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis announced during Commencement week that next year all College prizes and fellowships will be available to men and women without gender restrictions. In the case of the Frothingham Prize, "manliness" will be interpreted as "character." Men were permitted this year for the first time to buy tickets to the Sadie Hawkins-style Senior Soirée and were welcomed into Radcliffe Yard for the first coeducational strawberry tea.

 

A REUNION ROW

Much of the celebrated "Rude 'n' Smooth" crew of the mid 1970s, whose members came heavily from the class of 1975, got together for a reunion row at 6:15 a.m. from Newell Boathouse on Commencement morning, with Alan W. Shealy '75 in his customary seat at stroke.

 

LOOSE END TIED UP

Actress Elisabeth J. Shue, who earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a prostitute in Leaving Las Vegas, left Harvard and her mates in the class of 1988 short of earning her degree to launch a career in Hollywood. But she came back, and on June 8 was admitted to the fellowship of educated persons, cum laude in government.

 

VERITATEM SERVARE

In her Latin Salutatory, one of the addresses by students on Commencement day, Kathleen A. Stetsko '00, of Leverett House and Elida, Ohio, told the truth, in Latin. "We say, 'Professor Feldstein, I truly enjoyed your lecture on Social Security' [O Professor Feldstein, inquimus, gaudeo tua oratione de securitate publica], when we mean, 'Sign my recommendation! Sign my recommendation! Sign my recommendation!' Or we say, 'I am truly excited by the opportunities in telecom consulting,' when we mean 'McKinseius me conducat ne hoc negotium mediocre mihi habendum sit!' [God, I hope McKinsey calls, so I don't have to take this idiotic job.] We say, 'Rub the toe of the statue for good luck' [Tange digitum statuae ut fortunam habeatis], when we mean, 'Stupid tourists' [rustici stolidi]."

 

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