- VANESSA SHIM: Welcome, friends and families, to the 20th annual December graduate recognition ceremony. I am Vanessa Shim. The senior class president. The academic procession is about to begin. Please take your seats and kindly clear all the aisles.
Also, please take a moment to make sure that the ringers on your cell phones are turned off. The event is being livestreamed, so please remain in your seats during the ceremony so as not block the cameras by the video staff and professional photographers.
The video can be viewed at Cornellcast next week. There will be opportunities to take photos with your students after the ceremony. Please take a moment to locate the closest exit to you as it may be behind you.
In case of an emergency, listen carefully to the instructions over the PA system and proceed in a calm manner. Thank you. At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce the readers from each college, who will be announcing the degree candidates' names today.
From the Graduate School, Assistant Dean, Merry Buckley. From the College of engineering, Associate Dean, Alan Zehnder.
From the Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, Director of student services, Ingrid Jensen. From the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Senior Associate Dean, Kate Griffith.
From the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Senior Director of student services, Jennifer Michael. From the College of Human Ecology, Senior Associate Dean, Marianella Casasola.
From the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, Director of student services, Christie Avgar. From the College of Arts and Sciences, Senior Associate Dean for undergraduate education, Michelle Smith.
From the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Executive Director of MBA programs, Nicole Pellegrino. From the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Senior Director of programs, Alex Susskind.
From the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Senior Director of programs, Aija Leiponen. From the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Senior Associate Dean, Sahara Byrne.
As part of today's ceremony, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogoho:no, the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogoho:no are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land.
The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and a United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogoho:no dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogoho:no people, past and present, to these lands and waters.
Please join us at the reception afterwards. Thank you for being here for this special day.
POPPY MCLEOD: Good morning. Please be seated I am Professor Poppy McLeod, University Marshal. The assembly is hereby called to order. At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the provost of Cornell University, Michael I. Kotlikoff.
MICHAEL KOTLIKOFF: Good morning. Students, colleagues, families, and friends, welcome to this joyful and well-deserved celebration of our graduates' accomplishments. I am proud to join all of you to honor our midyear graduates.
Degree candidates, whether you are now completing your bachelor's, master's, or PhDs, we congratulate you on all that you have achieved and on your perseverance through the challenges of the last few years.
On behalf of the faculty of Cornell, I offer my congratulations and best wishes for your future success. And I look forward to hearing all of your accomplishments in the years to come. I hope that you leave here empowered to think critically, to express your opinions fearlessly, and to act constructively.
And I wish for all of you the deep satisfactions of a life filled with intellectual exploration and adventure. And now, today is the day of three M's. Messy, [? Mbape, ?] and Martha.
Please join me in welcoming the 14th President of Cornell University, Professor of computer science, information science, and linguistics, Martha E. Pollack
MARTHA POLLACK: Thank you, Provost Kotlikoff. I thought he was referring to the slush outside for a minute, but good morning, families. Good morning, friends, and most of all, good morning, graduates. Congratulations.
Before I say another word, I want to do what I always do at graduation and ask all of our graduates to stand up for the moment. Stand up quietly. Now, if you know where your family is sitting, turn around and look at them, or your friends, or whoever's here, and wave and say, thank you.
One of the nice-- you can all sit down, yes. One of the nicest things I think about December graduation is that unlike May commencement in Schoelikopf, cove our graduates can actually see all of the people who have come here to support them, and who they're waving and yelling at.
And even though it may not be so nice outside, we don't, as is so often the case in May commencement, have to worry about getting rained on. This is our first in-person December commencement since 2019, and I am so excited to be here with all of you.
I have a warm spot in my heart for all commencements, which celebrate the tremendous achievements of our students, and which are always filled with so much joy. But December commencement is its own kind of terrific, and not just because we know we won't get rained on. It's really a super happy party on a quiet campus on a day that is extra bright no matter what time it's going to get dark outside.
And whether you're graduating early, or you took some extra time, whether you transferred to Cornell or transferred within it, whether you encountered challenges and overcame them. Or whether you came to Cornell as a nontraditional student, every single one of you traveled your own path as you earned your degrees.
And in a world, where the ability to adapt and move forward is more important than ever before, you are all living proof of just how many different and successful paths there are to a Cornell education. So today, we celebrate all of you.
The 700-some graduates sitting here in front of me today are just some of the 1,575 Cornellians who have completed their degree since May across the range of knowledge and creativity, learning and discovery here at Cornell.
And while your experiences have taken turns that you probably never imagined when you submitted your applications, each and every one of you has succeeded in attaining what you came here for. Not just a Cornell degree, but a Cornell education.
Now, it's an occupational hazard of being a University President that we spend a lot of time thinking about education. What it should look like, what its goals should be, how to make it better, how to make it more effective, and, yes, how to make it more joyful. Because learning, and exploration, and discovery should be joyful. Those are things we're all hired-- hardwired to do from the moment we're born.
So let me tell you a little story. A few months ago, I was on a Zoom call with my daughter. She happens also to be an academic, and we were having one of those conversations that academics seem to have whenever they're together in a room, whether it's a Zoom room or irl-- I'm going to get this for the kids who are much younger than me. --irl
It was a conversation about research funding, or about the relative merits of journals and conferences or free speech on campus. I don't exactly remember, but at some point in this very serious conversation between two adults with PhDs, there appeared on the screen my grandson, who was about a year and a half old. And he had just made a tremendously exciting discovery of his own. The remote control.
Now, all babies are scientists, and as my daughter and I talked, my grandson started to investigate. It was the remote control for the ceiling light. And he quickly learned that it didn't just turn the light on and off, but even more exciting, it made it dimmer and brighter. Dimmer and brighter.
And so, as my daughter and I continued our very academic conversation about opportunities in higher education, the lights started going on and off and getting dimmer and brighter as he worked each of the controls, getting more and more excited with each new finding. And as we were starting in on the question of academic careers versus industry careers, my grandson started dancing around the living room holding the remote control over his head and shrieking at the top of his small but very powerful lungs. Light! Light! Light!
And while that might have ended our conversation, it also illustrated it with the starting point of every educational journey is the joy of discovery. At its most fundamental, the purpose of education and its core challenge is taking that joy of discovery, that enthusiasm for learning that we're all born with, and finding ways to channel it, and feed it, and make it last a lifetime. So that it can in turn feed our lives in ways that will enrich them and make them more joyful, and more meaningful, and more worthwhile.
Education really isn't about teaching facts. Indeed, you can just Google facts or even ask Siri. Good education is about developing skills in students, developing values, priorities, and habits, and minds. The ones that will keep you learning and growing not just until you're ready for your careers, but for every day forward in your lives.
Isaac Asimov once wrote that the most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not eureka, but that's funny. That's funny reflects something very basic, the realization that something in the world around us is different from what we expected. And we want to know why.
A good education isn't one that hands all the answers to our questions to us. It's one that provides the tools, and just as important, nurtures the desire to ask and answer our own questions about the world. To identify and evaluate problems, to explore and develop potential solutions, to work with and learn from others. Even, and probably especially, when they're very different from us.
To appreciate the beauty and wonder in the world around us and find joy in exploring it. Whether through art, or literature, or music, or science, or any of the disciplines that you're all receiving your degrees in today.
For all of you, however long you've been here, Cornell has been a place of discovery. It's been a place of personal discovery through your classwork, as well as everything you did outside of the classroom. And for many of you, including all of you who are receiving PhDs, it's also been a place of human discovery as you've added to the body of human knowledge through your search.
Now, I hope you've also all learned intellectual humility and the importance of the perspectives of others. And you've learned to appreciate how much you don't know. That category of knowledge is and always will be infinitely large and infinitely expanding.
And you know what? That in itself is infinitely exciting, which is why world-class researcher universities like Cornell are just that, research universities. There are standalone research institutes, including many very fine ones, and there are very fine institutions that focus almost exclusively on teaching.
But the very best universities in the world, like ours, are focused both on teaching and research, and I believe that's because both teaching and research have the same central focus of discovery. Our faculty pushed the boundaries of human knowledge ever outward through their research, while they also help our students expand the boundaries of their own knowledge.
Faculty are people who have chosen to spend their lives in the joy of discovery and to share that joy with the generations that will follow. Or as Cornellian Bill Nye, who many of you know as Bill Nye the Science Guy, puts it, the essence of a Cornell education is learning to feel the joy of discovery. And keeping that joy of discovery alive, keeping it a focus of your life, will enrich and deepen your lives whatever lies ahead.
Every single one of you has just spent the last few years of your lives earning the degrees that we're celebrating today, and you know, we all know, that not every moment spent seeking discovery is going to be a moment of joy. It's going to involve hard work, difficult work, challenging work, and it's not always easy to keep that joy and excitement alive.
There are setbacks and difficulties, complex problems to solve or decide that you just have to live alongside of. Situations that aren't always clear or well-defined. The remote control and the flashing light give way to lab experiments that fail, or the paper that just doesn't quite seem to come together.
The tasks become more complicated. The effort becomes greater, but so too do the rewards. So if you want to keep experiencing the joy of discovery throughout your lives, you have to be open to it. You have to maintain a level of intellectual humility, recognizing that there's always, always more to learn. And recognizing that so often, what you know or think you know may not be totally correct. Maybe even subject to different interpretations.
That's one, but honestly just one of the reasons that here at Cornell, we so emphasize interactions across difference. In Bayesian terms, for those of you who care about Bayesian terms, you've got to learn to question your priors. Don't always assume that the assumptions you bring into each interaction are correct.
Stay open to the idea that there's always more to learn. When the next remote control doesn't seem to turn on the lights, don't assume it's broken. It might be that it controls the fan, or the air conditioning, or the television instead. And if you throw it away, you're throwing away all of those experiences that you haven't yet discovered. As we celebrate your Cornell degrees, my wish for each of you is that the Cornell education you came here for will never truly end, and that you will carry the joy of discovery with you wherever you go.
And now, class of 2023, upon the recommendation of the faculty of your respective colleges and by the authority vested in me of the trustees of Cornell University, I hereby confer upon each of you the degrees appropriate to your fields of study with all the rights, privileges, honors, and responsibilities pertaining thereto.
Cornell will always be a part of you just as you will always be a part of Cornell. Congratulations to everyone.
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, President Pollack. We will now recognize the December degree candidates individually. I will call each Dean forward, and the candidates will rise and approach the platform. Will the Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for graduate education, Kathryn Boor, please step forward?
The reader for the Graduate School approach the stage, and the doctoral candidates approach the platform.
SPEAKER 1: [READING NAMES]
I will now read the names of the master's degree candidates.
POPPY MCLEOD: Will the master's candidates from the Graduate School please approach the platform?
SPEAKER 1: [READING NAMES]
MARTHA POLLACK: Please join me in congratulating our PhD and master's candidates. And now, I would like to introduce the Dean of the College of engineering, Lynden Archer, to please step forward, and will the candidates for the degrees from the College of engineering please approach the platform? Lynden.
SPEAKER 2: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Archer. Will the Dean of the Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, Kavita Bala, please step forward, and the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 3: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Will the Dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Alexander Colvin, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 4: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Colvin. Will the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, Mark Cruvellier, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 5: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Senior Associate Dean Cruvellier. Will the Dean of the College of Human Ecology, Rachel Dunifon, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 6: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Dunifon. Will the Senior Associate Dean of the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, Jamila Michener, please step forward? And the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 7: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Senior Associate Dean Michener. Will the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Ray Jayawardhana, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 8: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Jayawardhana. Now, we will recognize graduates from three schools that form the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
Will the Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Mark Nelson, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 9: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Nelson. Will the Dean of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, Kate Walsh, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 10: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Walsh. Will the Dean of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Jinhua Zhao, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform? These candidates have also successfully met the degree requirements for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
SPEAKER 11: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Zhao. Will the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Benjamin Holton, please step forward? And will the candidates approach the platform?
SPEAKER 12: [READING NAMES]
POPPY MCLEOD: Thank you, Dean Holton and congratulations on all your achievements. Will everyone please rise and join us in round of applause for all the graduates? Please remain standing as we all sing the Cornell University Alma mater.
This concludes our recognition ceremony for the December 2022 graduates of Cornell University. Please remain standing, while the platform party and the graduates recess to the reception area. Then exit following directions from the ushers. Thank you all for attending and safe travels home.
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Congratulations to our December graduates and proud Cornell families! A university ceremony to recognize all December graduates will take place in Barton Hall on Sunday, December 18.