“A Day Like No Other”
Welcome one and all!
Let me begin by saying that it is truly an honor to have been invited to play a small role in today’s celebration. A role that Prof. Alfred Kelly has encouraged me to regard as not only small, but brief!
Given that Prof. Kelly has always provided me with wise counsel, I will do my absolute best to proceed accordingly.
When last I spoke before a group of some size, someone contacted me afterward and complemented me on my eloquence.
In response, I simply replied that I guess I’ve been at Hamilton so long that my students and colleagues are starting to rub off on me!
Invariably, as I walk away from encounters or events on campus, I am completely amazed by our students; for in terms of their ability to clearly conceptualize and analyze the most complex and complicated topics—coupled with their ability to give their insights and ideas convincing and captivating expression—the talents of many of our students, and especially those whom we gather to celebrate today, are rivaled only by the talents of those who are dedicated to their tutelage.
The manners in which our students skillfully give voice to all of this and more are fittingly as diverse as the perspectives and interests their endeavors reflect and express.
In the sciences, our students prove equally adept at mastering various bodies of knowledge and creatively applying them in ways that enhance not only human wellbeing, but also the survival and flourishing of the complicated ecological systems that are essential to all being.
In the social sciences, our students critically decipher and help other see the complex and highly contextual dynamics of an ever-changing social world that is theirs to shape.
Carefully and conscientiously shifting between multiple arrays of subject positions, systems, and practices, they stand as sentinels who guard against the dangers of thoughtless complacency.
In the humanities, our students patiently listen to, learn from, and connect with the lives, experiences, ideas, and aspirations of the broadest array of those who existed before us and those who exist along side us so that moving forward we can rejoice in our triumphs, repudiate our transgressions, and forge new perspectives, new paradigms, and new practices that accord much more with the tightly woven threads of mutuality that are constitutive of the tapestry of the human condition.
In the arts, our students distinguish themselves as almost magical—or so it seems; for in disciplines that are more often than not thought of in terms of polished performances and finished works, our students fully embrace and exemplify the dedication and discipline it takes to traverse the arc of creative process and hone the ability to produce and perform telling, moving, and thought-provoking manifestations of human imagination.
And finally, beyond the various disciplines themselves, our students are simply awe-inspiring in terms of the myriad of meaningful ways in which they reach out both within and beyond the spaces of campus to connect with individuals and communities in a manner that respectfully and responsively amplifies the agency of those whose voices alone often prove all too faint.
Standing here in the midst of many of the finest of the aforementioned, today stands out for me as a day like no other; for today we celebrate those whose accomplishments give voice to a panoply of perspectives, interests, talents, abilities, and endeavors.
Moreover, today we celebrate a range of such voices and relish the fact that Hamilton is at its best and most excellent when it acknowledges, embraces, cultivates, and celebrates, a veritable chorus of voices.
Like our students, the faculty is equally diverse in terms of interests, passions, and accomplishments. Nevertheless, the common refrain that echoes whenever we gather in conversation—is the great sense of privilege and pride that all of us feel whenever we reflect on the amazingly talented array of students and colleagues of which our little college on a hill is comprised.
Hence it is that today stands out as a day like no other; for today is a special day, a highly anticipated and much welcomed day, a day that occasions us to gather in joyous and heartfelt celebration of a number of students and faculty who exemplify the remarkable talents, accomplishments, and expressions of agency that give fresh credence to the fact that our little college on a hill remains forever still—a lofty and preeminent example of the liberal arts ideal.
My congratulations to you all!