More than 4,000 family members, friends
and well-wishers gathered on a radiant spring day to celebrate
the graduation of 285 students at Haverford College's commencement
ceremony in May.
Following the traditional procession
of graduates and faculty across Founders Green, President Tom
Tritton addressed the graduates and urged them to "live adventurously"
and let their lives speak. "Don't budget your enthusiasms,"
he said. "Don't hold back your passions, and please don't restrain
The Class of 2000 also was greeted
by four distinguished honorary degree recipients who offered
their own unique words of wisdom to the graduates.
Sociologist and human rights activist
Charles Willie presented "a few life-saving and career-building
lessons." Willie, the Charles William Eliot Professor of Education
at Harvard's graduate program in education, told the graduates
to focus on possibilities instead of practicalities and never
let failure diminish one's expectations. Before receiving an
honorary doctor of humane letters, he also asked the Class of
2000 to accept a "calling to be humble" and "learn to be a person
Willie, a classmate of Martin Luther King,
Jr. at Morehouse College in Atlanta, was a founding
member of the Human Rights Council in Massachusetts
and former chair of the Greeley Foundation for Peace
Charles Willie and
Madeleine L'Engle, a prolific writer
of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, was awarded an honorary
doctor of letters from the college. She implored the graduates
to make the next thousand years "at least a little bit better
than the last millennium."
"We work with what happens,"
she said. "We can't change what happens, but what we
do with it makes all the difference." Best known for
her Newbery Award-winning children's book, A Wrinkle
in Time, L'Engle has written an entire series of
science fiction fantasies for youngsters. Two of those
books, Meet The Austins and A Ring of Endless
Light, earned American Library Association Book
of the Year honors.
Roberts and Kathleen
Wright talk with Madeleine
L'Engle after the ceremony.
Taking L'Engle's message a step further,
Edward Said, a former member of the Palestine National Council
and longtime critic of U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians,
urged the graduates to make the world a better place by questioning
and challenging "the framework of knowledge." He warned against
blindly accepting the viewpoints of so-called experts and expressed
a need to "ask the embarrassing questions that will make you
Said, who has been a professor
of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University
for the past 40 years, is the only American citizen
to ever receive the Sultan Owais Prize, the premier
literary prize in the Arab world.
and Tom Tritton
All 16 of his books, including Orientalism--which
examines the way in which the West perceives the Islamic realm,
have been translated into 26 languages. Said was awarded an
honorary doctor of humane letters.
Jocelyn Burnell, a Quaker and a professor
of physics at The Open University, the United Kingdom's largest
university, asked the Class of 2000 to "give with a generous
spirit" but make sure to take time to enjoy life.
Prior to her appointment at The Open
University, Burnell conducted research and taught gamma
ray astronomy at the University of Southampton and x-ray
astronomy at the University College London. As a doctoral
student at Cambridge University, she was involved in
the discovery of pulsars, which opened a new branch
of astrophysics and earned her supervisor a Nobel Prize.
Besides her accomplishments in the
world of physics, Burnell has remained active in the Religious
Society of Friends. She was Clerk for Britain Yearly Meeting
from 1995 until 1998 and has written for some 35 Quaker publications.
She received an honorary doctor of science at the commencement