Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 30, 1995

Commence The Future

Mike Field
Staff Writer

     Newscaster Ted Koppel preached civility. Sen. Barbara
Mikulski lauded citizenship. Her majesty Queen Sirikit of
Thailand spoke of the dignity of labor, and President William C.
Richardson congratulated the graduating class--only to find
himself unexpectedly among them. It was a day of lofty ideas and
simple eloquence, of long waits and eager anticipation, of hugs
and laughter and, mostly, of relief. Commencement 1995 had
arrived, and even the heavens seemed pleased at the prospect of

     The day broke clear and warm with a pleasantly cooling
breeze out of the southeast. The thundershowers predicted that
morning arrived too late to disrupt either the 9:30 a.m.
university-wide commencement or the 2:30 p.m. Homewood campus
diploma ceremony. They were over, for the most part, by the 7:30
p.m. Continuing Studies diploma ceremony held beneath the same

     At the morning commencement ceremony, sunny skies only added
to the general air of festivity as Thailand's queen, in town to
receive an honorary degree recognizing her work on behalf of her
nation's rural poor, was accompanied to the dais by outgoing
president William C. Richardson, by tradition the last person in
the academic procession. In a departure from custom, the queen
made brief remarks after receiving her degree, thanking the
university for recognizing her work. 

     "The encouragement which you have given me today will help
me to further my efforts to make communities more
self-sufficient," the queen said. Her remarks were broadcast live
to all five major television stations in Thailand.

     Keynote speaker Barbara Mikulski called her audience the
"Fix-it Generation," saying they combined "the idealism of the
'60s with the practical savvy of the '90s." She extolled the
virtues of citizenship as something more than mere legal status.

     "I believe that it is citizenship that will help carry us
through this time of enormous change," she said. "This time in
American history calls for a new kind of citizenship and a
renewed sense of civic virtue."

     At the afternoon Arts and Sciences diploma ceremony, Ted
Koppel, anchor of ABC News' Nightline, spoke of the need for
greater civility in the national behavior. 

     "As general civility diminishes in our culture, we become
more dependent on the law," he noted, saying "we have altogether
too much" law and not enough good manners. "I realize how quaint,
even archaic it must seem to some of you to place such emphasis
on good manners and civility in times as difficult and troubled
as our own ... but the absence of good manners and civility in
our daily communion with one another is evidence of so much of
what is wrong in our society."

     In a surprise orchestrated by board of trustees chairman
Morris W. Offit, President Richardson was presented an honorary
degree of his own. 

     "You have been the president Hopkins needed these last five
years," said chief marshal of ceremonies Milton Cummings, reading
from a prepared citation. 

     "This is so we will always be able to claim you as one of
our own," joked Offit, as he led the audience in a standing
ovation. It was one of many in a day celebrating the rewards of
study, diligence and hard work. 

     In his concluding remarks at the afternoon diploma ceremony,
President Richardson joined the senior class in looking forward
to the future. 

     "Like you, I will be embarking to a new destination, I also
will be discovering a new tomorrow," he said. "But the journey of
the past four years is something we will always hold in common.
... I hope that this great institution will always have a place
in your heart as it does in mine. Certainly, you will always have
a place in ours."

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