Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

557 members of the Class of 2013 celebrated commencement yesterday in Nelson on a wet and chilly Memorial Day weekend. Despite student protests, the celebration was held inside the recreation center for the first time in 21 years. Yet the mood inside Nelson was anything but cold, as seniors walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and canes. Bronwyn Oatley delivered the student speech while young author Jonathan Safran Foer gave the commencement address. Check out both below. Congratulations to the Class of 2013 and best wishes for the future!


In Which Ron Liebowitz Paraphrases Comedian Jerry Clower

For those of you at Saturday’s Baccalaureate ceremony, you may remember President Liebowitz’s speech and its quotation of an old Jewish story about a Rabbi and his driver from the Talmud. What you might not know is that Liebz is in good company with his inspiration, with the late Southern comedian Jerry Clower making the same joke in the 70s. Check it out below and let us know if anyone has a video of Ron’s speech that we can post here for comparison!

Ron’s Speech:

Seniors React to Announcement that Graduation Will Move Indoors

Update: Former SGA President Charlie Arnowitz has released the following video to address the “We the Middkids” petition to keep commencement outside.

Early Friday afternoon after taking a class photo, the graduating class of 2013 was informally told that this year’s commencement ceremony, taking place on Sunday, would be moving indoors. The commencent website states that the ceremony will take place outdoors, rain or shine. This move would limit students to only two guests at the ceremony, with others forced to watch a live stream elsewhere.

Not even an hour after the announcement, students have taken it upon themselves to keep the ceremony outside. Former SGA President Charlie Arnowitz just sent out an email to the senior class encouraging them to email President Liebowitz the following sample message:

President Liebowitz,
As a member of the Class of 2013, I respectfully request that the Commencement Ceremony remain outside. Many of us have friends and relatives who have traveled here from around the country and the world under the premise that they would be able to attend Commencement, rain or shine, as it represents an important achievement for each of us. We strongly feel that the ceremony should remain outdoors in order to remain as accommodating as possible.

Thank you,
Members of the Class of 2013

MiddBlog will update this post as more reactions and responses from the administration are received.

Jonathan Safran Foer is Commencement Speaker for May 2013 Graduation

Guess there was a reason why we all had to read Everything is Illumniated before Freshman Orientation after all!  

Safron Foer, Jonathan

Commencement will be held May 26th, at 10:00 a.m.  Past speakers have included Bill Strickland, Nick Krostof and Sheryl WuDunn, and Bill Clinton.  This is pretty awesome, even though my nomination of Bill Nye (the Science Guy) was passed over.  Ah well.  Hat tip to the Campus for the scoop, check over there for more information on honorary degree recipients, which include Edward Burtynsky, Megan Camp, Jacqueline Novogratz, and Stuart Schwartz.

Congratulations to Middlebury Class of 2011!

593 Middlebury students graduated on Sunday. The weather held and even stayed sunny for the Class of 2011’s commencement after almost a week of rain showers.

Addressing yesterday’s graduates were student speaker Donnie Dickson and celebrated Paralympic skiier and motivational speaker Chris Waddell of Middlebury’s Class of 1991. Dickson spoke of the changes the entire class had undergone in 4 years and what it truly means to be a MiddKid (full text). Meanwhile, Waddell emphasized the gift that comes from facing challenges, using his own disability as an example. His main message to the graduates: “It’s not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you.” (full text) Both Dickson and Waddell spoke of the incredible bonds within the Middlebury community and how those connections are not severed when one leaves our beautiful campus in Vermont.

The ceremony also included a moment of silence in memory of the three members of the class that died during their time as students in the past four years: Pavlo Levkiv, Ben Wieler, and Nick Garza. Continue reading

Goodbye, Class of 2010!

The Middlebury Class of 2010 graduated yesterday under sunny skies. Commencement speakers Nick Kristof and Sheryll Wudunn spoke about changing the world (what else would they talk about?) and student speaker Peter Baumann ’10 helped explain what recession meant for the class. Overall, a very successful Sunday for Middlebury.

Curiously, there was no live feed of the commencement ceremony. It’s been increasingly common for institutions to live broadcast the events for alumni, parents, and others who feel connected to the community. Middlebury kept it low-tech.

Video of Wudunn and Kristof is here. But the text of the speech is strangely absent from the College website, at the request of Wudunn and Kristof. Peter Baumann ’10 delivered a poignant speech, the first one in years that didn’t have more joke lines than nuggets of wisdom. The text of Baumann’s address is here and video here.

Of course, the 24 hours prior to the ceremony were full of all-night debauchery ending of course, with the sunrise at the football stadium and a 6am breakfast with President Liebowitz at Steve’s Park Diner. Middlebury may not have a lot of traditions, but that is one of them. Rumors have it that a bonfire down at the modular homes required both the fire department and a rousing rendition of “There’s Only One Middlebury….” Enough said.

Media Roundup:

Two students, Audrey Tolbert ’13 and Cody Gohl ’13 have their take on the graduation ceremony on their summer blog, English Spoken Here.

7Days reveals that WuDunn and Kristof’s son has been accepted to Middlebury but likely will take a gap year. Look out class of 2015… Also, WuDunn and Kristof considered going to Japanese school at Middlebury but chose to learn in New York for family reasons.

BFP had a few key quotes and the list of Vermont students graduating for Middlebury.

Photos of the event by Isaac Sadaqah are great, including the early morning shot in this post.

Kristof, WuDunn to Give Commencement Address

The Campus announced this morning that New York Times columnist Nick Kristof will deliver a joint commencement address on May 23rd with his spouse Sheryl WuDunn. In 1990, the married couple both won the Pultizer Prize for their coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. WuDunn, the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer, is now an author and businesswoman. Kristof continues at the NY Times, writing primarily on human rights conditions, development strategies, and global poverty particularly in Asia and Africa. The pair is anticipated to “ask this generation to tackle the issue of gender inequality in all its future endeavors.”

Kristof and WuDunn, quoted in The Campus, had this to say about Middlebury:

Kristoff: “Middlebury has been pretty successful at cultivating an international response ethos where students lean from the world and engage it,” Kristof said. “That’s something I admire and encourage.”

WuDunn: “Students are much more service oriented…They really feel they want to be proactive about [making a difference]. We’re seeing that and we’re extremely excited about it.”

My thought is that this is a good choice for Middlebury. Past graduation speakers have been a bit of a sore spot for graduating seniors (other than the class of 2007 who had Bill Clinton). Kristof is a well-known figure that fits Middlebury’s self-proclaimed international strengths and seniors should be glad to throw around that name when comparing notes with other college seniors nationwide (he’s a big deal, even if your friends have never heard of him). Still, I have a hard time imagining a joint-address, but I’m sure they’ve done it before.

MiddBlog wants to know: What do you think of Kristof and WuDunn? Do the pair match your expectations?