Reunion/Commencement weekend is already becoming a blur in my memory as I think about all the alumni we welcomed back to campus, and the members of the class of 2011 that we sent off. So many people told me that the campus looked great, and I want to thank the Physical Plant staff for having worked tirelessly to keep things looking sharp. The University Relations crew managed the logistics with spirited grace, and I am so thankful for their efforts! From Faculty Marshalls to student workers, everybody pulled together.
Each year I take special pleasure in meeting with members of the class celebrating its 50th reunion, and 2011 was no exception. Bob Patricelli (who along with his wife, Margaret, received a Baldwin Medal for outstanding service) was the master of ceremonies at the reunion dinner, at which the class of 1961 made resounding clear why Wes has been known as “the singing college of New England.”
I had a little too much fun at the 25th Reunion dinner joining some of the musicians for a Class of ’86 blues.
I was really getting carried away — but then I realized there were real singers in the room, like Tierney Sutton and Dar Williams’89. Oy!
Spending time with our doctoral honorees was deeply gratifying. Biff and Jean Shaw shared words of wisdom about the power of community and the importance of service. Alberto Ibarguen added immeasurably to the weekend with his comments on the changing role of communication, and on how our grads might make their way through these revolutionary times. Paul Farmer was smart (expected) and really funny (an added treat) in his address to the class of 2011. I’ve admired Paul’s work for years, and it was delightful to see him engage with our students and faculty. Finally, I got to spend time with Barbara Cook, a singer who has brought joy, tears and passion to audiences for decades. It’s a little dangerous to finally get the chance to meet someone you idolize, but in this case it was pure pleasure.
I was impressed with all those who crossed the podium. As luck would have it, a good part of my commencement address was published on CNN.com over the weekend. Families came from far and wide to celebrate with their new graduates, and it is always bittersweet to say goodbye at the end of the festivities. But we will be start up again May 31 with summer session classes starting next week. If you want a dose of Wes magic in June, there is still room in some of the classes.