SWARTHMORE, Pa. (May 30, 2004) — In remarks at the College's 132nd commencement today, Swarthmore President Alfred H. Bloom called on graduating seniors to commit themselves to the creation of a more inclusive world, one in which "good nutrition, health care, education, and the chance to chart one's own productive course are the birthright of every human being."
Because of awakening consciousness around the world, Bloom said, "We have reached a historic moment when for the first time expectations are in place across the globe that such an inclusive world can and must be built.... For the first time in history, students graduating throughout the world hold the understandable expectation that they too should have their fair share of the world's respect, resources, and rights, that around the globe traditional acquiescence to the inevitability of exclusion has given way to a new sense of what is possible, desired, and fair."
The College awarded degrees to 359 undergraduates at the ceremony, held this morning under sunny skies at the Scott Outdoor Auditorium. In addition, honorary degrees were awarded to Patrick G. Awauh, Jr., founder of Ashesi University College in Ghana; Marjorie Garber, a renowned Shakespeare scholar and cultural critic; and Joy and Herbert Kaiser, founders of the non-profit Medical Education for Southern African Blacks. All are Swarthmore alumni.
Although inclusiveness is a hallmark of the Swarthmore liberal arts education and his own 13-year presidency, Bloom voiced regrets that the American higher education has not made a stronger commitment to the ideal of an inclusive world. Such a commitment is more needed now than ever, Bloom noted, in a time marked by violence and terrorism that have risen partly as a consequence of excluded people's unmet expectations.
Because of their experience at Swarthmore, Bloom said the College's graduates might regard the rightness of inclusion as self-evident. "But it would not be self-evident," he said, "for most graduating classes in a world of higher education which defines its mission as imparting to students the knowledge and skills needed to find and fill their place in the world, rather than also obliging students to consider what kind of world that should or must be.
"As each of you takes on responsibilities of greater consequence... and makes your individual, innovative mark, I ask you to be conscious and deliberate in living that Swarthmore legacy, that imperative to build an inclusive world, and to do so through the candidates and policies you support, the actions you take, and the vision you communicate to others of what must be the agenda of this, your century."
Of the 359 graduates, 349 collected the bachelor of arts degree and 15 the bachelor of science in engineering degree. Five had double degrees. Highest honors were awarded to six, with 67 collecting high honors and 54 receiving honors.
The senior class speaker, as voted by his classmates, was Ryan Budish of Beachwood, Ohio. Budish, a political science major with a minor in computer science, graduated with high honors.