SPEAKER 1: From Graduate School-- Associate Dean Jan Alan.
From the College of Engineering-- Associate Dean Michael Thompson.
From the School of Industrial and Labor Relations-- Associate Dean George Boyer-- From the College of Architecture Art and Planning-- Associate Professor Jenny Sabin. From the College of Human Ecology-- Associate Dean Margaret Frey. From the College of Arts and Sciences-- Assistant Dean Bonnie Camella.
From the School of Hotel Administration-- Associate Professor Alex Susskind. From the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management-- Associate Dean Harry Kaiser. From the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences-- Associate Dean Donald Viands. We welcome you to join us at the reception afterwards and thank you for being here at this special occasion today.
[MUSIC - "GRADUATION MARCH"]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Good morning, would everyone please be seated. I'm Professor Charles Walcott, the University of Marshall. And the assembly is hereby called to order. At this time, it's my pleasure to introduce to you the provost of Cornell University, Michael I. Kotlikoff.
MICHAEL KOTLIKOFF: Welcome families, friends, colleagues, and students. We're gathered today to honor our students who have completed their academic achievements at Cornell University. As provost and on behalf of the entire Cornell faculty, congratulations.
Let me now introduce President Martha E. Pollack.
MARTHA POLLACK: Thank you, Provost Kotlikoff, and good morning everyone. I'd like to extend an especially warm welcome to the family and friends of our graduates. Your love and support brought them through the rigors of a Cornell education. So, graduates, I want you to do this for me. Turn around, find your parents or your family or your friends or your spouses or who's ever here supporting you and wave and thank them.
We are so glad to have all of you here with us. Now, it's not too often that you can call a gathering of 2,500 people intimate. But when it comes to a Cornell degree recognition, this is an intimate gathering. That's only part of the reason why this is one of my favorite events of the year. Like any Cornell president, I love the excitement and the grandeur of May commencement. But there are significant advantages to a graduation ceremony that can be held in Barton Hall instead of out on Schoellkopf field.
One of them is the roof. Because at Cornell, we hold these events rain or shine, and, well, this is Ithaca. This past May, as some of you may remember, it did not shine. It did the polar opposite of shining. The rain came down so hard that morning that I had to put each page of my speech into a plastic sheet protector. So it wouldn't turn into mulch right there on the podium.
And by the way, if you ever have to do that, make sure that the plastic protector opening is on the bottom not on the top. Here at Barton Hall, we are not only safe from the perils of precipitation, but I have the great pleasure of being able to see the face of each graduate and to shake each one's hand. And I'm so glad to be Cornell president in an age when we do celebrate the achievement of our December graduates with caps and gowns, with pomp and circumstance.
It wasn't always this way. Our presence here in full academic regalia is at least partially due to someone you have almost certainly never heard of, a Mrs. [INAUDIBLE] of Suffern, New York, whose son graduated from Cornell exactly 30 years ago this winter. In those days, there was no separate commencement ceremony for winter graduates. Depending on the college and the year, you might have gotten them lunch or a reception to which family members were usually not invited.
Two months later you got your diploma in the mail. And if you wanted to wear a cap and gown, you had to come back to Ithaca in May. Mrs. [INAUDIBLE] felt this wasn't right. So she wrote a letter to then university president Frank H. T. Rhodes asking why there wasn't a ceremony to recognize her son's winter graduation.
President Rhodes wrote back-- it was too late to change that year's plans, he said, but he graciously included an engraved invitation to the buffet lunch for students only-- that, at that time, was the only event held to mark winter graduation. I hope she accepted that invitation because her letter planted a seed. Until then, nobody thought many families would travel all the way to Ithaca in December even for a graduation.
But President Rhodes and many others wanted to do something for what they thought were the few parents, like Mrs. [INAUDIBLE], who would. So the next year, there was a reception held on a Friday night in late December in Willard Straight Hall to which parents were invited. OK, now, remember, it's Ithaca. It's December.
So nobody was too surprised when sometime that Friday, it began to snow-- how'd you guess? There was a huge snowstorm. But no snowstorm was going to stop Cornell families. So many people showed up that night and packed into a room built for only 350. The chief of police actually showed up and announced sternly that next time, they had to get a bigger room.
So here we are. More than 450 graduates with well over 2,000 family and friends joining generations of Cornell families whose love is so strong that no snowstorm could keep them away. And luckily today, there is no snow storm. All of you who are here this morning to celebrate the graduation of a son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister, niece, nephew, grandchild, parent, or friend-- all of you are part of the story of that graduate and of their time at Cornell.
Each one of those stories is and always will be unique, whether it began with a fat envelope in the mail or with an acceptance that might have been posted on Instagram. Part of the mission of Cornell is to ensure that no Cornell education, however, it begins ends at the doors of Barton Hall or Schoellkopf Field. Our mission is to discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.
And to me that phrase, "culture of broad inquiry," is another way of saying curiosity. Cornell and its graduates, now all of you, relish and promote intellectual curiosity. And we relish and promote enthusiasm, not just for knowledge but for the impact that we can have with that knowledge. Because to be a Cornell student is to be the kind of student who, in the middle of a book or at the end of class, thinks to themselves or maybe even out loud, "Wow, that is so cool."
And I think that joy of learning is something that comes naturally to us when we're young. I'll never forget the little girl I met this past September at Ithaca's because leading with love community walk on the first day of public school. She was so excited, and she came up to me and said the most unbelievable thing.
She said this, "I made up a dance for my first day of kindergarten. Can I show it to you?" Yes, she'd made up a dance. I, of course, said, "I'd love to see it." And so she danced her first day of school dance for me right there in front of everyone. Now, I'm sure that little girl was a little scared.
Who isn't when they're about to do something wholly new, something that will change their world forever? But that kindergartener came to her experience with pure joy. And, graduates, that's what I wish for all of you-- that as you head off to whatever is next, you face your new experiences and your new worlds, maybe a little bit scared, but with a great deal of joy.
I'm not going to talk this morning about the many challenges facing our society and our planet. I'm simply going to say that your Cornell education has prepared you-- perhaps, better than you know-- to be one of the people who makes our world better. It's taught you to work hard, to manage your time, and set your priorities, to ask questions and seek out answers, to listen well, and to take close account of different perspectives.
I hope it's also taught you to value the things that are more important than any course grade, graduate school acceptance, or job offer-- namely, your family, your friends, and the human relationships that are the source of life's greatest happiness. There's one other thing that's special about a December graduation that I didn't mention at the beginning.
It's that everyone who is graduating today did things a little bit differently. You transferred from another college or you transferred within Cornell. You finished early, or you needed a little extra time. You studied abroad or took a semester away, or you faced challenges and overcame them. But whatever path brought you to today, it was your own path, your own experiences, your own decisions, and your own hard work and determination.
It's a path to claim as your own, as Cornellians who, like Ezra Cornell, sometimes find that the best way to move forward is a little bit differently from everybody else. So as you set forth on your new path, do with ambition, do it with confidence, do it with joy. And whatever first days are waiting in your future, don't forget to dance.
I am so proud of all of you, of what each of you has accomplished, and what each of you will accomplish, of who you are, and who you will become. So to everyone here-- graduates, family, and friends-- congratulations. Cornell will always be a part of you, and you will always be a part of Cornell. And now, it is my pleasure to introduce Senior Class President, Andrew Semmes.
ANDER SEMMES: Thank you, President Pollack, for the introduction. My name is Andrew Semmes and I currently serve as Cornell University's Senior Class President. Thank you to the December graduates, faculty, staff, family, and friends for joining us at this celebration today. When I was asked to write a speech about our time here at Cornell, I was excited.
Yet, I found it difficult to fully capture the depth and diversity of what Cornell means to each and every one of us. Beyond our shared experiences of CTB bagels, late nights in Olin, or incredible slope days. We all have individual experiences that have shaped our identities, our relationships, and have left an impact on us that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Many of us stepped onto North 3 and 1/2 years ago full of energy and excitement, yet still uncertain. And immediately, we started building a home for ourselves here. In those first few weeks and months, we joined random tables of classmates at Appel, introduced ourselves to people in our dorm on the way to the laundry room, and began to define ourselves not only as college students but as Cornellians.
We built a community on North. We knew the hours of Louie's, Nasties, and the dining halls by heart. And then it came time to move beyond our first year. We spread out from North onto West, Greek life, and Collegetown. And those relationships and perceptions of ourselves grew and changed to accommodate this shift. We may have lost touch or kept up with our first year friends, but we also gained the ability to grow into new social circles and discover more about ourselves.
From course to course, semester to semester, my friends, classmates I knew, and I began to reflect on a few key questions about Cornell and our place in it. What do we value? How do we want to spend our time here? And how should we decide what comes next after graduation?
In an effort to solve these questions, we may have re-evaluated our majors, switched up our daily routines, and developed new interests, skills, or relationships. The amazing part of Cornell is that each one of us had different experiences that helped us to answer these questions. Whether we studied the intricacies of plant biology, did community service on campus, or went abroad to Spain, India, or even domestically to Washington DC, all of us strived to develop ourselves and each other in the work we put in each day.
In addition to reflecting and working individually, personally, a major reason why myself and my friends were able to navigate this period of growth was through supporting each other and appreciating the fact that all our classmates around us were aiming to answer these same questions. As we completed the majority of our studies here, we had the opportunity to reflect in a more informal and organic way.
This time with friends over a pitcher at CTB or a hot order of ramen at Oishii Bowl. These hours outside the library and the classroom were just as important to developing ourselves, a lesson that can benefit us today and beyond graduation. To conclude-- as we move forward into our new lives, I hope that we may continue to carry these experiences and relationships with us. As we try new jobs, move to different cities, and, perhaps, even start our own businesses, I hope that we will continue to rely on each other and to use what we learned here to define ourselves and what it means to be a Cornellian. Thank you
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Andrew. We will now recognize the December degree graduates individually. I will call each dean forward and the candidates to rise and approach the platform. Will the Dean of the Graduate School, Barbara Knuth, please, step forward. The reader for the graduate school approach the stage, and the doctoral candidates approach the platform. The candidates will all be officially hooded up by Dean Knuth signifying their success in completing a doctoral degree graduate program.
BARBARA KNUTH: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Will the masters candidates from the graduate school please approach the platform.
BARBARA KNUTH: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Knuth. Will the Dean of the College of Engineering, Lance Collins, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
LANCE COLLINS: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Collins.
LANCE COLLINS: Now, announcing the bachelors of science.
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Collins. Will the interim Dean of the School of industrial and Labor Relations, Alexander Colvin, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
ALEXANDER COLVIN: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Colvin. Will the interim Dean of the College of Architecture Art and Planning, , Kieran Donaghy, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
KIERAN DONAGHY: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Donaghy. Will the interim Dean of the College of Human Ecology, Rachel Dunifon, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
RACHEL DUNIFON: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Duniform. Will the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Rachel Bean, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
RACHEL BEAN: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Bean. Now, we will recognize graduates from two schools that are part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business-- the School of Hotel Administration and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Representing the college is Dean Kevin Hallock. Will the Dean of the School of Hotel Administration, Kate Walsh, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
KEVIN HALLOCK: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Walsh. Will the Dean of the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Lynn Wooten, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform. These candidates have also successfully met the degree requirements for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
KEVIN HALLOCK: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Wooten. Will the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kathryn Boor, please step forward and the candidates approach the platform.
SPEAKER 2: [READING NAMES]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Thank you, Dean Boor. Congratulations to all of you on your achievements. Will everyone please rise and join the candidates.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
The assembly will now remain standing and we'll sing the Cornell University Alma Marter.
[MUSIC - "FAR ABOVE CAYUGA'S WATERS"]
BAND (SINGING): Far above Cayuga's waters with its waves of blue. Stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward, loud her praises tell-- hail to thee, our Alma Mater-- hail, oh, hail Cornell. Far above the busy humming of the bustling town. Reared against the arch of heave, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward-- loud her praises tell; Hail to thee our Alma Marter-- hail, oh, hail Cornell.
CHARLES WALCOTT: This concludes our recognition ceremony. Please remain standing while the platform party, faculty, administrators, trustees, and candidates recess to the reception area. Everyone is welcome to join the reception. Thank you for attending and safe travels home.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
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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 Saturday, December 15.