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 it. 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 tent. 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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