Campus News

Bowdoin College Celebrates 193rd Commencement

Story posted May 15, 1998


May 23, 1998 Brunswick, Maine -- Bowdoin College, Maine's oldest college, conferred 386 bachelor of arts degrees on Saturday, May 23, at its 193rd Commencement Exercises on the terrace of the Walker Art Building on campus.

Bowdoin President Robert H. Edwards welcomed an estimated 4,000 family members, friends, alumni, faculty and staff, and participants, and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments. "This is a day of thanksgiving for what parents have been prepared to do not just for their offspring, but for what their offspring represent, which is the future of a civilized society and for the dedication and imagination of gifted faculty and most assuredly for what you, the Class of 1998, have done with these opportunities," Edwards said.

Edwards urged the graduates to follow the path laid before them by Bowdoin alumni on the world stage. He praised the efforts of former Senate President George Mitchell, Class of 1954, to reach an historic peace agreement in Ireland; Secretary of Defense William Cohen, of the Class of 1962; and Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state and former U.S. ambassador to India and Russia, of the Class of 1953.

"Class of 1998, if you never set foot beyond America again, remember your duty as Bowdoin graduates to be intelligent, knowledgeable and outspoken about international affairs and the responsibilities of America in the world," Edwards said. "Be worthy of this remarkable Bowdoin inheritance of engagement in the world of which Belfast's and Ireland's salutary vote yesterday is only one recent consequence."

Maine Speaker of the House Elizabeth Mitchell delivered greetings from the state to the senior class and their families. Mitchell reminded the graduates of their legacy. "If education is the soil on which democracy flourishes, this college has distinguished itself as fertile ground for generations of legislators and leaders whose convictions and habits that they learned on this campus have served our state and our nation and indeed our world very well," Mitchell said. "You may leave Maine but memory holds on, and one day when you're back strolling across these beautiful grounds meeting your friends, you're going to wonder where the time went," Mitchell said. "You're going to celebrate the wonderful phenomenon of having been blessed with your degree from this wonderful Bowdoin College in the great state of Maine."

Bowdoin awarded honorary degrees to Jef D. Boeke of Baltimore, Md., a professor and research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1976; Barbara Bonney of Montclair, N.J., principal soprano soloist with the Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden, and a graduate of Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham; the Rev. Frank Washington Jarvis of West Roxbury, Mass., headmaster of the Roxbury Latin School; and Harold L. Oshry of Tamarac, Fla., chairman of Universal Auto Group of New York City and a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1940. Each of the honorary degree recipients delivered brief remarks during the ceremonies.

In keeping with a Bowdoin tradition dating to 1806, graduating seniors delivered commencement speeches. Ranjit Rauniyar of Kathmandu, Nepal. delivered a speech titled 'Self Expressions and Self Discovery: Our Experiments with the Bowdoin Identity.' Rauniyar, the first Nepalese student at Bowdoin, spoke of the challenges and uncertainties presented by the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of Bowdoin students. "It is the varied and numerous peculiarities of each one of us that exposes our own beliefs to a brand-new set of challenges; it provokes us to think differently, to understand those differences," Rauniyar said. "Let us not be enslaved by the unexamined notion of how things are and how things out to be. Let us not be enslaved by the confines of uniformity. Let us assure ourselves that it is all right to be different."

The second student speaker, Chris Giordano of Washington, D.C., delivered a speech titled 'We Are Part of the Cycle' in which he recalled the anxious first days his classmates shared, and the new challenges they will face. "The cycle will eternally continue, but that does not take away from its importance in our lives. We must remember that we have the same source of strength," Giordano said. "As we confront our next set of challenges, always remember what we have done here, what we worked hard to accomplish. We are not ill-prepared. We are not ill-equipped. ... Do not forget that it is that hard work that has made us into the people we are today and will drive us to overcome those obstacles."

Other Commencement participants were Frederick G.P. Thorne, of the Bowdoin Class of 1957 and chair of the Board of Trustees; student marshall Carl Hall of Amherst, N.H., president of the Class of 1998; James Eells, of the Bowdoin Class of 1948, as alumni marshall; Alfred Fuchs, professor of psychology, as college marshall, and the Rev. William Imes of the First Parish Church in Brunswick, who delivered the invocation.

Music was provided by Chandler's Band and the senior members of Bowdoin's a cappella groups the Meddiebempsters and Miscellania.

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