Blue skies and mild temperatures prevailed for the nearly 1,100 graduates at Rensselaer’s 199th Commencement May 21. More than 10,000 family members, friends, and university alumni and staff attended the festive ceremony on Harkness Field, followed by a picnic on campus.
“The world has changed enormously in your time here,” President Jackson said in her address to the Class of 2005. “But, my hope for you is that, as you move forward, you will hold fast to your core values and to your principles they will be your North Star, your guide to navigating the challenges, which are sure to lie ahead.
Commencement speaker United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) encouraged the graduates to “always stand true to yourselves” and to “stand up for research and for open inquiry” in her address. Clinton challenged students to use their technological and scientific degrees for themselves, the nation, and the world. She also urged students not to turn their backs on objective science in the face of political or other world pressures. “We need to be willing to face up to scientific facts and not permit them to be distorted or spun out of proportion.”
Clinton received an honorary doctor of laws during the ceremony. Also receiving honorary degrees were economist Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former NHL player Joe Juneau ’91, who is a partner in Harfan Technologies, which supports management of municipal infrastructures; and Robert Coonrod, former president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Volcker, Coonrod, and Juneau joined President Shirley Ann Jackson the day before Commencement in a colloquy on “Personal Achievement Public Lives Public Responsibility.” The broad-ranging conversation touched on issues including economic policy, the environment, globalization, workforce development, and challenges of communicating complex issues in the current media environment all discussed in an ethical framework.
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