Great Day for Wesleyan

Sunday’s Commencement Ceremony was a wonderful conclusion to my first year as Wesleyan’s 16th president. The graduate students and the class of 2008 received more than their diplomas on Andrus Field. They were able to listen to one of America’s most eloquent speakers reflect on the call to service that characterizes the Kennedy legacy, and renew that call for this generation of students. Senator Kennedy’s family helped make this happen, and we are so grateful to them. Senator Obama energized his audience not with a partisan political message, but with a challenge to us all to live up to our best selves by connecting to a larger purpose. We are deeply grateful to Senator Obama for “pinch hitting” for his friend, and we extend to Senator Kennedy our heartfelt best wishes as he confronts his health issues in the coming weeks and months.

The Wesleyan staff worked continuously to ensure that Commencement and Reunion Weekend was a success, and I was so impressed with the effort, their good cheer and their talents. Thanks to all – student workers, public safety, volunteers, faculty and staff – for making our Commencement memorable and enjoyable!!

Senator Obama’s speech and my own remarks can be accessed via our homepage, or at:

The campus is almost empty now, and the crews are taking down the tents. I’ve said my goodbyes to the many seniors I got to know this year, as they packed up, vowed to stay in touch with friends, and headed off into life after college. I told them all to come back to campus often, and I look forward to reminiscing with them about the great 2008 Commencement when they return for their own reunions!


[tags] Commencement, class of 2008, Andrus Field, Kennedy legacy, Senator Kennedy, Senator Obama [/tags]

11 thoughts on “Great Day for Wesleyan”

  1. One of the greatest days in Wesleyan’s golden history! It was wonderful in every way. Congratulations on a beautifully organized and managed commencement.

  2. Sunday was one of the best days of my life. I shared the day with my 17 year old son. He was very engaged in Senator Obama’s message. He felt as though he was a part of history. I was proud to be on campus Sunday and it’s a day that I won’t soon forget. Many praises to all of those that made Sunday the beautiful and most memorable day that it was.

  3. Indeed a great day, and congratulations. Just as the head suffers when things are painful, just so, and deservedly, the head can glow when things go as right as this commencement day did. And apropo of the reference during your address of “standard operating procedure” let me add that your review of the Philip Gourevitch book is outstanding. And given the theme of your talk and Senator Obama’s, a powerful conjunction.

  4. As the parent of Meghan Duberek, class of 08, I would like to thank everyone from the students on up to making the graduation of the 08’s one of the best. At no time did I wish the ceremony to end. Thanks to everyone for making such a memory for my daughter, our family, and all the graduates and their families.
    Madeleine W. Duberek

  5. This was a magical day in all regards. The weather was superb. The organization was pristine. The crowd was electric. The speakers were genuine. Senator Obama was amazing. Congratulations to President Roth on a perfect commencement day. And of course our thoughts and prayers to Senator Kennedy.

  6. BRAVO!

    Now as the parent of an ’09, I am hoping that work has already started on attracting another compelling orator with at least as much panache as the distinguished Senator Obama!

  7. President Roth, the content of your commencement address was bold, courageous, much needed and much appreciated.

    Your words reminded me why I so deeply value my Wesleyan education and experience. They also marked the first time I have heard any senior staff at Wesleyan so clearly, concisely, explicitly and self-assuredly articulate the power and purpose of the Wesleyan education and experience.

    Thank you for speaking out against violence and the corrosion of civil rights and civil liberties, and for insisting that these movements stand in stark opposition to everything for which Wesleyan stands.

    sourav guha, alumnus, class of 1998
    assistant dean of admission, 2001-04
    institutional research associate, 2005-06

  8. My daughter, Alexandra ’10, stayed at school after finals to work
    on a recycling project. She was able to attend the graduation ceremonies and told me it was truly a great day. Although I
    was only able to participate through the WES webcast, I completely share her opinion. She’s very happy to be at Wesleyan and I’m
    most happy she’s there!! Congratulations on a wonderful day.
    Geoff Provo

  9. President Roth,
    I wanted to express my utmost appreciation for all that you contributed towards the Commencement ceremony. It not only marked this very fantastic and frightening transition in my life, but also left me with important messages and a sense of duty in the world. Your speech as well as that of Senator Obama were poignant, powerful, and truly encompassed what my four years of Wesleyan has really been about.
    I am extremely grateful for your work as President this year, and all that you have done to improve and represent our institution both internally and externally. I wish that I were able to stick around and watch the University grow under your guidance over the next few years. Wesleyan has been my home where I have grown tremendously and forged relationships with peers and mentors that will last a lifetime. I am sure that you will continue your efforts to provide this experience for many new generations of students.

    Thank you,
    Rebecca Ehrlich ’08

  10. Congratulations on an inspiring Commencement, it has been an honor to be part of the Wesleyan community for the last 8 years. As parents of Nick ’08 and Josh ’04, the education, friendships and experience that both our sons have been provided by the Wesleyan community has been life changing. The paths are sons are choosing can best be described by your and Senator Obama’s words. They are leaving Wes as “productive idealist” hoping to “deliver service of greater good”. Josh as a Returning Peace Corps Volunteer has entered graduate School at Tulane University continuing to do Public Health work in New Orleans. Nick will be leaving for South America shortly to begin a year commitment to teach English in South America. Thank you Wesleyan!
    Sandy Pelletier

  11. Dear President Roth,
    After attending the “Obama commencement” at Wesleyan a few weeks ago, I am often asked to recount the powerful words of our hopefully soon-to-be-elected president. While I exhibit the scars from the lump in my throat, I explain to people that although I was moved by Obama, it was the new President of Wesleyan that blew me away. I have read your commencement speech on line and emailed the link to family, friends and anyone else with whom I spark a political conversation. In a time where questioning and criticizing anything American is immediately labeled “unpatriotic”, your call for peaceful change was an act of courage on its own. Wesleyan has always represented liberal and alternative views, but the people leading the school have not always reflected this image. While Wesleyan had a tremendous impact on my life and the life of my family, I have not been inspired to remain connected to the University since I graduated. But after being introduced to you through your provocative and eloquent words, I am excited about Wesleyan again and have been moved to ignite a new relationship with the school.


    Adam Abel ’98

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