Campus News

Bowdoin Celebrates Annual Baccalaureate May 25

Story posted May 25, 2001

Bowdoin College hosted its annual Baccalaureate Ceremony Friday, May 25, at First Parish Church, to mark the official closing of the academic year and celebrate the College's 196th Commencement.

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, managing director of the World Bank and South African activist, and graduating senior Michael F. Micciche III of Reading, Mass., gave addresses. Robert H. Edwards, president of Bowdoin, presided over the exercises.

In his opening remarks, Edwards greeted the Class of 2001 as "an incredibly cohesive class." Having arrived on campus as the College was inaugurating a house system of residential life (following the closing of fraternities) and starting construction on new buildings, "You poured your energy and enthusiasm into the new [surroundings] and brought Bowdoin a new kind of life." The College had high expectations that the class would embrace the changes, and they rose to the occasion. The same will apply after Bowdoin, he advised: "People will meet your expectations, so set the bar high."

Micciche, an English major, gave a speech titled "Delivering the Goods; or, So What's a Bowdoin English Major Really Good For Anyway?"

"Where's the deliverable?", he asked, questioning what tangible thing the graduates of the Class of 2001 take away from their four years at Bowdoin. "The most valuable lesson this school teaches us . . . is that we learn how to learn," he said, "and the majority of us have learned to love learning....[We learn] how to assert ourselves intellectually as individuals, and how to apply, almost automatically, the lessons that we learn inside the classrooms here, outside the classroom in all areas of our lives.

"The most important lessons, regardless of the discipline you may have chosen to study or the field you may be choosing to enter, are two-fold: one, to always be thinking critically . . . and two, to always have the confidence and the ability to express your thoughts and your views, both orally and in writing.

"Though we may be less immediately prepared to undertake a trade than many of our not-so-liberally educated counterparts, what we will always have is the desire to learn; to question; to appreciate; and to assert our point of view. Even more importantly, we know that we . . . are qualified to contribute to, qualified to evaluate, and even qualified to initiate, the conversations in this world that truly matter.

"The best thing that any of us can do for the Common Good is to forever be a teacher....The world will be a better place if we can all aspire to inspire others to engage us in the same way that this place has taught us to engage the world."

Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, to be one of five honorary degree recipients at Commencement, encouraged the class to celebrate their accomplishments as "those who have dared to dream of a better world, and who dared to reach for those dreams." But upon leaving Bowdoin and going on to careers, "Each one of us needs to know our rights, responsibilities, and opportunities in the global village. The opportunities to do good . . . and harm . . . are huge."

"How will you shape history?" she asked. Americans--citizens of the country with the greatest economy in the world--have added responsibilities. Africa's devastating high rate of HIV/AIDS and racial exclusion from the benefits of higher education are just two examples of what has become the "global challenge." "We are all drawn in," she stated. Just as Americans learned together to transcend a divided nation, now must those lessons, and that energy, be brought to the global village.

She concluded, "You have an unprecedented opportunity to make a peaceful global village possible....We have numerous opportunities to make a difference and shape history every day of our lives."

During the baccalaureate ceremony, music was provided by members of the Bowdoin College Chorus and Chamber Choir, and chorus director/organist Anthony Antolini '63. Craig W. Bradley, dean of student affairs, presented readings from Bowdoin's past.

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