August 27, 2013

Mick SmyerIt is, indeed, a pleasure to welcome once again the Class of 2017 and the transfer students who are joining the Bucknell community for the first time.

As I thought about this evening’s session, I was reminded of advice that Kathy Lapointe, a Bucknell parent, gave to your parents last Friday. She told them: Be a coach, not a problem solver. So I have titled my remarks, Who’s on Your Committee?

In the Quaker tradition, when someone faces difficult decisions, they often ask for what is called a Clearness Committee. The role of the committee members is not to solve the problem. Instead, the committee members are charged with asking questions, questions that will help the person discern the best outcome.

As you start Bucknell, I offer you three important questions that could shape your Bucknell experience.

As I mentioned on Friday night, over the next four years you will focus on what is important and essential to you. In doing so, I hope you will answer these three important questions:

What gives me deep satisfaction? (As Bill Gates and Warren Buffet put it in an essay: what leaves you “tap dancing to work”). What am I good at? (As President Bravman said on Friday, don’t limit yourself solely to what you were good at upon graduating from high school.) And who cares? (What is the social structure that will support me in what I deeply like to do and am good at?)

Fortunately, you are in a great university with people eager to be on your committee. Bucknell is designed to help you answer all three questions, to help you develop academically and existentially over the next four years. A faculty member put it best: “This is a student-centered place. The whole place is keyed to educate undergraduates at the most holistic level.”

Now I’d like to introduce several of my colleagues who are with us on stage tonight. They are part of this community working on your behalf:

You have already heard from Reverend John Colatch, University Chaplain, who offered the invocation.

Dr. Keith Buffinton, Dean of the College of Engineering, and Bucknell alumnus; Dr. George Shields, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Rabbi Serena Fujita, the University’s Jewish chaplain; and Fr. Bernard Wamayose, the University’s Catholic chaplain.

I’d also like to acknowledge several faculty colleagues who were honored at Commencement last May for their outstanding teaching:

  • For the William Pierce Boger Jr., M.D. Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Natural Sciences: Mary Beth Gray, Associate Professor of Geology, and Faculty Marshall
  • For the Class of 1956 Lectureship Award: Er-Dong Hu, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance;
  • For the Presidential Awards for Teaching Excellence, we have two awardees:
  • Joseph Tranquillo, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering.
  • For the other Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence: David Evans, Professor of Psychology, who is on leave and unable to attend this evening.
  • For the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching: Katherine Faull, Professor of German and Humanities.

Now I’d like to ask Professor Kim Daubman, Chair of the faculty to come forward and extend a welcome to the newest members of the Bucknell community on behalf of the faculty.


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