Reunion, Departures and… RETURN for Summer Sessions

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 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.

1 thought on “Reunion, Departures and… RETURN for Summer Sessions”

  1. Dear President Roth:
    Congratulations on a job well done on PBS Evening News on Friday. I really appreciated your direct, well-reasoned, and eloquent defense of higher education. I’m not a graduate of your school, but I’d be proud to have you as my president.
    I am Dean of Math and Science at a small community college in TN and I’ve spent my life’s career encouraging students to push on and get that Bachelor’s degree and hopefully advanced degree. It is true that college is not for everyone, but I loved your thoughtful reply, “why would we not want a better- educated workforce?” Even if a student doesn’t get that degree, they still have profited from being in the academic environment…My daughter last year earned her M.A. in English from Miami University of Ohio and she’s back in Nashville, teaching first grade in a small private school. Is that what she planned on doing? No, but with the economy being what it is, she took the job that was available, and I’m proud of her for working–period. She’s doing a crackerjack job of teaching because she’s educated and knowledgeable and the kids love her. She will one day move on to do something else more in line with what she thought she’d be doing, but she’s never regretted getting that M.A.
    So don’t let the naysayers get you down. Keep beating the drum for the benefits of higher education. There are many who agree with you.
    Larry Bouldin

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