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Class of 2013 Encouraged to 'Think for Yourselves'
British author Bernard Cornwell kept graduates and guests entertained with a Commencement Address that combined serious advice with a strong dose of humor.
Members of the Class of 2013 voice their excitement during Sunday's Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony.
In what has become an annual Commencement tradition, members of the 50th anniversary graduating class (in this case, the Class of 1963) were honored as "Golden Hawks." Pictured, from left, are Bob Carto, Bill Storey, Professor Emerita of English Virginia Hale, Jim Keane, and Dave Schupp, who is a University regent.
Malcolm Morrison (right), who served as dean of The Hartt School from 1998 to 2008, was presented with the University Medal for Distinguished Service. He is pictured with President Walter Harrison (left).
Hillyer College honor students who traveled to Hawaii during Winterterm wore leis to signify their trip.
In a humorous address that earned a standing ovation from students, British historical novelist Bernard Cornwell told the approximately 1,100 undergraduate members of the University of Hartford’s Class of 2013 that the most important skill they have learned in their four years at the University is to be critical thinkers.
“Your job is to listen and think for yourselves,” Cornwell said in his address at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 19. “If you take an idea off the shelf, whether it’s a political belief or religious dogma, and you do not examine it, then when you come to depend upon it, it will crumble. [Shakespeare] put it much better than I can. ‘Unto thine own self be true, and it shall follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’”
Cornwell, whose speech combined serious advice with a constant stream of witty remarks and anecdotes, brought the graduates to their feet when he concluded his remarks by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the best-looking, most intelligent and by far the sexiest class ever to graduate from the University of Hartford.”
Cornwell was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters at the ceremony, which also included honorary degree presentations to Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; John Corigliano, prolific composer and professor of music at Lehman College of the City University of New York; and Walter Wick, award-winning children’s book author and photographic illustrator.
About 1,100 students received bachelor’s and associate’s degrees at diploma presentation ceremonies that followed Sunday’s main ceremony. More than 40 percent of the members of the undergraduate Class of 2013 graduated cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. In addition, a record-breaking 37 students graduated from the University Honors Program. To graduate with University Honors, students must complete 18 credits of honors courses as well as a senior-year thesis or research project. Read more about the Class of 2013.
This was the second year in which the University of Hartford held two days of Commencement events, with a graduate ceremony on Saturday for students receiving master's and doctoral degrees, and Sunday's undergraduate ceremonies for students receiving bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.
During the main Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, University President Walter Harrison praised the Class of 2013. “We celebrate you for what you have accomplished. Today is about the joy of human accomplishment and possibility, and it’s about celebrating the joy and value of a University of Hartford experience," Harrison said. "Let’s celebrate that joy and bask in it.”
Graduating senior Rutger Strauss, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering, focused on the skills that students gained at the University in his “Charge to the Class of 2013.” He noted that, “The University of Hartford has heightened our sense of responsibility to the communities in which we participate beyond the point of simply being ‘concerned’ from the sidelines when things start to go wrong. We have been instilled with a sense of responsibility that demands commitment. We find ourselves not only more aware and more involved, but also more able to carry out that responsibility. Over the last four years, we have learned to be teachers, artists, and so much more. We have been given the tools to succeed, and we will continue to succeed.”
Listen to audio clips and read transcripts of Sunday's remarks by Cornwell, Harrison, and Strauss.
Presentation of Awards
During Sunday's Commencement exercises, a number of awards were presented to students, faculty, and alumni.
Malcolm Morrison, who served as dean of the University’s Hartt School from 1998 to 2008, was awarded the University Medal for Distinguished Service, which is presented infrequently to an individual or group who had a profound impact on the University.
Nancy Stula '83, '85, director and curator of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Conn., was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented annually to a University graduate who has made an exceptional impact on her/his profession, community, and the University. Another alumnus, acclaimed tenor Robert Brubaker '77, was presented with the 2013 Hartt Alumni Award during The Hartt School’s diploma presentation ceremony in Lincoln Theater.
Read more about Nancy Stula and Robert Brubaker.
The University also recognized the accomplishments of three exceptional students in the Class of 2013.
Dana Eckstein, who has been pursuing a double major in cinema and English in the College of Arts and Sciences, received the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize, which is awarded for academic excellence. Miles Aron, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the Acoustical Engineering and Music program, received the John G. Martin Scholarship, which provides recipients with the extraordinary opportunity to study for two years at the University of Oxford’s Hertford College in England. Peter Bowers, who majored in mechanical engineering with a concentration in acoustics in CETA, was presented with the John G. Lee Medal. The medal is given annually to a graduating senior from Greater Hartford who has excelled academically and demonstrated a deep commitment to the community.
The achievements of six faculty members also were recognized during Sunday’s ceremony.
Susan H. Diehl, associate professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Nursing, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (ENHP), was this year’s recipient of the Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching. Robert H. Davis, professor of theatre in The Hartt School, was the recipient of the James E. and Frances W. Bent Award for Scholarly and/or Artistic Creativity. Donn Weinholtz, professor of educational leadership, ENHP, received the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University. David Pines, associate professor of civil, environmental, and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA), was presented with the Donald W. Davis All-University Curriculum Award.
The recipient of this year's Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize was Joshua Russell, assistant professor of music education in The Hartt School. In addition, Bryan Sinche, associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the first-ever Belle K. Ribicoff Endowed Professorship.
Read more about the faculty award winners.