May 12, 2012 – Allegheny College today honored 456 graduates and four distinguished leaders at the college’s 193rd commencement ceremony.
Washington Post columnist and political commentator E.J. Dionne, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony, delivered the commencement address.
In his address Dionne challenged the Class of 2012 to become “the next great reforming generation in our country’s history.”
“The great reforming generations marry their aspirations to service with the possibilities of politics,” Dionne said. “They harness the good work done one-on-one, in local communities, to larger movements for change in our nation and in our world. They remember what the philosopher Michael Sandel has taught us, that ‘when politics goes well, we can know a good in common that we cannot know alone.’ Your generation has a chance to get us beyond the wreckage of the old culture wars and to sweep aside the debris of prejudice on the grounds of race, gender and sexual preference. Your generation has the opportunity to restore faith in public life and in public action.”
He further challenged the Class of 2012 to “never lose your desire to transform charity into justice, division into civility, selfishness into generosity, cynicism into hope.”
Last year, Dionne joined the national advisory panel for the selection of the inaugural Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life, which was awarded to New York Times columnist David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields in February 2012. By searching for exemplars of civility in its truest form and lauding them, Dionne and his advisory panel colleagues worked to help change the cultural norm of highlighting acts of incivility.
A nationally known commentator on politics who has been named among the 25 most influential Washington journalists by the National Journal, Dionne appears weekly on National Public Radio and regularly on MSNBC. He is a frequent contributor to MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” and has also appeared on PBS “NewsHour” with Jim Lehrer.
Honorary doctorates of humane letters also were conferred on Carol Glazer, the president of the National Organization on Disability, and two distinguished Pennsylvanians: golf legend Arnold Palmer and statesman and former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. Ridge and Palmer became close friends during Ridge’s tenure as governor of Pennsylvania. They golf together frequently and Ridge has even caddied for Palmer.
Since 2008 Glazer has been president of NOD, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the full participation in all aspects of life of America’s 54 million people with disabilities. Ridge chairs the NOD board.
Saturday’s ceremony concluded with Allegheny president James H. Mullen Jr.’s charge to the class of 2012. He called on graduates to achieve at the highest level as professionals and as citizens, to employ the full measure of their promise and potential in the pursuit of excellence and in the service of others, to live lives of courage and conviction, and to see and appreciate beauty even where others may not.
“I charge you to love this place that has been your home for the last four years,” said Mullen. “As it approaches its third century, I ask you to help it as it sets the standard of excellence for liberal arts learning in America.”
The 32nd oldest college in the nation, Allegheny College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2015.