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05-09-2004

More Than 500 Students Receive Degrees At Clarkson's 111th Commencement Ceremony

[JPEG images of commencement are available via overnight delivery, e-mail and at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/commencement1. jpg]

More than 500 students from approximately 25 states, 32 countries and 55 of New York's counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University's Commencement today (May 9). (One hundred eighty three more students received degrees at an earlier ceremony in December.) Close to 4,500 parents, relatives and friends attended the ceremony. The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of United States Army and Air Force officers on Saturday, May 8.Commencement

Receiving honorary degrees and making short speeches were Massachusetts Institute of Technology Willard H. Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering Howard Brenner; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson; Lucent Technologies Chief Scientist Arun N. Netravali; and The Thornton-Tomasetti Group Inc. Co-Chairman Charles H. Thornton.

Professor of Technical Communications Brenton D. Faber of Potsdam was awarded the John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award. This $1,500 research account is presented to "a faculty member who has shown promise in engineering, management, liberal studies, or scientific research."

Economics Professor Mark R. Frascatore of Potsdam was awarded the Clarkson University Distinguished Teaching Award. The $1,500 prize is given "in recognition of the importance of superior teaching" by nomination of alumni and by selection of a faculty committee.

Senior Andrew C. Tanner of Voorheesville, N.Y. was given the Levinus Clarkson Award, and senior Thomas M. Berez of Holland Patent, N.Y. was given the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes, awarded to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson told the graduating class that although Clarkson and Rensselaer are academic rivals, they share the important and common purpose of educating the leaders of tomorrow.

Jackson was one of 43 women and five African Americans attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 60's. Shunned by her classmates, she could have become bitter and withdrawn, "however," said Jackson, "my parents taught me that it wasn't enough to succeed for one's self, but to succeed for others." As a college student, she volunteered in the children's ward at a Boston hospital and soon came to realize, as she put it, "I was the lucky one. I had my health, ability, and incredible opportunity." Jackson said, "My message to you is simple, count your blessings, use them wisely."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Willard H. Dow Professor of Chemical Engineering Howard Brenner shared recollections with the class of 2004: "In high school, I had a difficult time in geometry, perhaps like many of you. But I had a wonderful teacher, Mr. Woods, who did a theorem proving that the interior angles of a triangle added up to 180 degrees. This was a purely theoretical exercise, one that I had never thought about before. It was hard to believe that you could use your own mind to predict something and then go into the world or the laboratory and measure it. After class, I had a protractor because I was taking a course in mechanical engineering; I drew some triangles and they added up to 180 degrees and I was amazed. And I have been amazed ever since."

In addressing the graduates, Lucent Technologies Chief Scientist Arun N. Netravali said, in part, "This is a tremendous honor for me because in honoring me you honor my profession.. You honor hundreds of professionals around the world who work in digital television or a similar profession. And you also honor my colleagues at Bell labs who created the world's best telecommunications infrastructure. I am grateful to all of them. I am also grateful to this country because dreams really can come true. Three decades ago I came to this country as a naïve young man with only seven dollars in my pocket. But I was rich in dreams. I figured one day I might make a difference in the world of science and technology.

In addressing the graduates, The Thornton-Tomasetti Group Inc. Co-Chairman Charles H. Thornton offered his blueprint for future success: "In your twenties, absorb everything you can --learn, observe, read and learn; in your thirties make relationships, develop bonds, look to become a manager and to develop skills that you did not learn at Clarkson; in your forties, run something, own something, manage it; and in your fifties, sixties and even seventies, start to give back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I hope that all of you when you are out in the working world will mentor underprivileged high school boys and girls and get them into meaningful professions. I know from experience it will make you feel very, very good."


[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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