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Convocation 2015: A Call to Fight Ignorance, Injustice and Inequity

“You are the agents of change. The world needs you more than ever. This is your call to action.”

Speaking in May at TC’s 2015 Commencement exercises at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, President Susan Fuhrman told graduates that they must continually use their knowledge in the interest of “building and rebuilding a more just and humane world.”

Asserting the College’s core belief in “the relationship between all knowledge,” Fuhrman called on the graduates to “fight ignorance, injustice and inequities.” And she invoked the late TC philosopher Maxine Greene in reminding her listeners that “you have the foundation to become whatever you choose to, limited only by how far you let your imagination take you.”

“You will create beautiful pieces of art and music and then help new generations learn to create and appreciate artistic expression; or you will prepare students from the earliest grades through college to achieve basic and then more sophisticated literacy and language skills; or you will teach the citizens of the future to respect, appreciate and critically evaluate our past and to undertake productive collaborations to assure our future,” Fuhrman said. “We’re more hopeful knowing the world is in your hands.”


Even as they contemplated the future, graduates at the first of the College's three master's degree ceremonies, held on Tuesday afternoon, had TC's past directly in front of them. A group of "Golden Anniversary" alumni -- those who graduated 50 years ago or more -- had come to town for a reunion luncheon earlier in the day and were up onstage in the Cathedral.

At the third of the College’s three master’s degree ceremonies, held Tuesday afternoon, May 19th, Fuhrman gave a special shout to someone in whose capable hands TC itself has rested securely for the past 50 years: Wavely Cannady, Boiler Room Engineer, who has helped keep the College running since the days of coal-powered heat. Cannady led the President’s Procession to honor his decades of service to TC.

And the next day, Fuhrman told doctoral graduates that they were now part of a great contingent of TC alumni who possess “the capability – sharpened through the experience of bridging theory and practice at this great research institution – to solve the toughest problems facing society today.”

In all, more than 2,000 graduates participated in the 2015 edition of Commencement. (Click here to read some of their stories.)

The speakers at the four Commencement ceremonies echoed Fuhrman’s call to action.

In accepting TC’s Medal for Distinguished Service to Education at the Monday ceremony for students receiving master’s degrees from the Departments of Arts & Humanities and Curriculum & Teaching, pioneering teacher educator Deborah Loewenberg Ball urged listeners to understand and honor the power that skillful teaching can have on a young person’s development and, ultimately, on eliminating the structural bias and injustice in America’s educational system.  “You have expertise and perspective that can truly make a difference in the years to come,” said Ball, a former middle school math teacher who serves as Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education and William H. Payne Collegiate Professor in Education


Medalist C. Kent McGuire, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and currently President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Education Foundation, described policymakers’ growing interest in and appreciation of the correlation between the psychological and physical well-being of children and their ultimate academic and professional success. McGuire, a TC alumnus and TC Trustee, called on graduates in the departments of Biobehavioral Sciences, Counseling & Clinical Psychology, Education Policy & Social Analysis and Health & Behavior Studies, to respond by “taking the knowledge and tools you’ve acquired to advance a more complex narrative” that moves beyond data alone to embrace the “whole child, his or her family” and the wrap-around services needed to ensure successful learning outcomes for all.


At the third master’s degree ceremony, medalist Luis Moll, an internationally known multiculturalist and literacy expert, warned that “schools are becoming test factories that curtail the excitement of learning.” Moll, Professor of Language, Reading & Culture at the University of Arizona’s College of Education, told graduates in Organization & Leadership, Human Development, International & Transcultural Studies and Mathematics, Science & Technology that they have “the clout” to act as advocates for children and reject “models that make smart kids seem dumb.”


And at the doctoral hooding ceremony, medalist John Ioannidis, who has focused global attention on the fallibility of biomedical research, called upon graduates to combat “the spreading irrationality” of a growing “anti-science movement of denial-ism that is gaining momentum based on sheer absurdity.”


“It takes a lot of education before we can barely scratch the surface of knowing a tiny bit about who we are,” said Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, Director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center and Director of the University’s Ph.D. program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research. He said he wished that “more people were exposed to science—not necessarily the splashing successes of science and technology, but the true core of science, which is mostly about careful, rigorous, thoughtful work, skilled design and analysis, skeptical interpretation, continuous reevaluation of the evidence, and meticulous validation.”

The words of the student speakers at TC’s three master’s degree ceremonies seemed to resonate particularly closely with Ioannidis’ sentiments.

“We should never stop looking outside ourselves for the answers,” said Rachel Escobedo, who received her Master’s of Arts in Philosophy & Education. She added that the middle school students she worked with during her TC pre-service field placements had taught her to “be better every day” and to learn and practice “perseverance, patience and selflessness.”


Nadia Iftekhar, who received an Ed.M. in Education of the Deaf and an M.A. in Hard of Hearing and Elementary & Inclusive Education, spoke about the “virtue of discomfort” in the learning process, arguing that we often “achieve the greatest growth and professional achievement” when we are most uncomfortable.  “Question and challenge your beliefs in every facet of your lives so that they do not become stagnant,” said Iftekhar, who began her remarks by greeting her fellow graduates in Urdu, Pakistani, Arabic and English.


And Lorraine Hexstall, who received her master’s degree in Developmental Psychology, recounted the many years she spent trying to help her son, who had been wrongly diagnosed with “test anxiety.” Inspired by a lone teacher—a TC alumna—who took a different view, she decided that “for me to successfully advocate for my son, I had to become as knowledgeable as that teacher was.” She returned to school after a 16-year hiatus and provides advocacy services “to ordinary parents struggling with the same sense of hopelessness I once had.”


Musical interludes at Commencement were performed by current and graduating students. At the Monday, May 18th master’s degree ceremony, “There Will Never Be Another You,” by Harry Warren & Mack Gordon, was performed by Lindsay St. Onge (vocals), Daniel Hartig, (guitar), Ari Kessler (piano) and Jeffrey Koch (bass), all of whom were graduating with master’s degrees in Music & Music Education. At the Tuesday morning master’s degree ceremony, “The Climb, Go the Distance,” by Jessi Alexander, John Mabe, Alan Menken and David Zippel, was performed by graduating Music Education master’s degree student Rhea Francani, with accompaniment by Mark Oleszko, a continuing student in the same program. Francani and Oleszko also performed at the afternoon master’s degree ceremony. And at the Wednesday doctoral hooding, pianists and Music Education doctoral students Barbara Lister-Sink and Suzanne Zakperformed “Slavonic Dance,” Op. 46 No. 1, for four hands, by Antonin Dvořák.

Visit TC's Convocation site for more photo and video highlights.

Published Friday, May. 29, 2015

Convocation 2015: A Call to Fight Ignorance, Injustice and Inequity

“You are the agents of change. The world needs you more than ever. This is your call to action.”

Speaking in May at TC’s 2015 Commencement exercises at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, President Susan Fuhrman told graduates that they must continually use their knowledge in the interest of “building and rebuilding a more just and humane world.”

Asserting the College’s core belief in “the relationship between all knowledge,” Fuhrman called on the graduates to “fight ignorance, injustice and inequities.” And she invoked the late TC philosopher Maxine Greene in reminding her listeners that “you have the foundation to become whatever you choose to, limited only by how far you let your imagination take you.”

“You will create beautiful pieces of art and music and then help new generations learn to create and appreciate artistic expression; or you will prepare students from the earliest grades through college to achieve basic and then more sophisticated literacy and language skills; or you will teach the citizens of the future to respect, appreciate and critically evaluate our past and to undertake productive collaborations to assure our future,” Fuhrman said. “We’re more hopeful knowing the world is in your hands.”


Even as they contemplated the future, graduates at the first of the College's three master's degree ceremonies, held on Tuesday afternoon, had TC's past directly in front of them. A group of "Golden Anniversary" alumni -- those who graduated 50 years ago or more -- had come to town for a reunion luncheon earlier in the day and were up onstage in the Cathedral.

At the third of the College’s three master’s degree ceremonies, held Tuesday afternoon, May 19th, Fuhrman gave a special shout to someone in whose capable hands TC itself has rested securely for the past 50 years: Wavely Cannady, Boiler Room Engineer, who has helped keep the College running since the days of coal-powered heat. Cannady led the President’s Procession to honor his decades of service to TC.

And the next day, Fuhrman told doctoral graduates that they were now part of a great contingent of TC alumni who possess “the capability – sharpened through the experience of bridging theory and practice at this great research institution – to solve the toughest problems facing society today.”

In all, more than 2,000 graduates participated in the 2015 edition of Commencement. (Click here to read some of their stories.)

The speakers at the four Commencement ceremonies echoed Fuhrman’s call to action.

In accepting TC’s Medal for Distinguished Service to Education at the Monday ceremony for students receiving master’s degrees from the Departments of Arts & Humanities and Curriculum & Teaching, pioneering teacher educator Deborah Loewenberg Ball urged listeners to understand and honor the power that skillful teaching can have on a young person’s development and, ultimately, on eliminating the structural bias and injustice in America’s educational system.  “You have expertise and perspective that can truly make a difference in the years to come,” said Ball, a former middle school math teacher who serves as Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education and William H. Payne Collegiate Professor in Education


Medalist C. Kent McGuire, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education and currently President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Education Foundation, described policymakers’ growing interest in and appreciation of the correlation between the psychological and physical well-being of children and their ultimate academic and professional success. McGuire, a TC alumnus and TC Trustee, called on graduates in the departments of Biobehavioral Sciences, Counseling & Clinical Psychology, Education Policy & Social Analysis and Health & Behavior Studies, to respond by “taking the knowledge and tools you’ve acquired to advance a more complex narrative” that moves beyond data alone to embrace the “whole child, his or her family” and the wrap-around services needed to ensure successful learning outcomes for all.


At the third master’s degree ceremony, medalist Luis Moll, an internationally known multiculturalist and literacy expert, warned that “schools are becoming test factories that curtail the excitement of learning.” Moll, Professor of Language, Reading & Culture at the University of Arizona’s College of Education, told graduates in Organization & Leadership, Human Development, International & Transcultural Studies and Mathematics, Science & Technology that they have “the clout” to act as advocates for children and reject “models that make smart kids seem dumb.”


And at the doctoral hooding ceremony, medalist John Ioannidis, who has focused global attention on the fallibility of biomedical research, called upon graduates to combat “the spreading irrationality” of a growing “anti-science movement of denial-ism that is gaining momentum based on sheer absurdity.”


“It takes a lot of education before we can barely scratch the surface of knowing a tiny bit about who we are,” said Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, Director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center and Director of the University’s Ph.D. program in Epidemiology and Clinical Research. He said he wished that “more people were exposed to science—not necessarily the splashing successes of science and technology, but the true core of science, which is mostly about careful, rigorous, thoughtful work, skilled design and analysis, skeptical interpretation, continuous reevaluation of the evidence, and meticulous validation.”

The words of the student speakers at TC’s three master’s degree ceremonies seemed to resonate particularly closely with Ioannidis’ sentiments.

“We should never stop looking outside ourselves for the answers,” said Rachel Escobedo, who received her Master’s of Arts in Philosophy & Education. She added that the middle school students she worked with during her TC pre-service field placements had taught her to “be better every day” and to learn and practice “perseverance, patience and selflessness.”


Nadia Iftekhar, who received an Ed.M. in Education of the Deaf and an M.A. in Hard of Hearing and Elementary & Inclusive Education, spoke about the “virtue of discomfort” in the learning process, arguing that we often “achieve the greatest growth and professional achievement” when we are most uncomfortable.  “Question and challenge your beliefs in every facet of your lives so that they do not become stagnant,” said Iftekhar, who began her remarks by greeting her fellow graduates in Urdu, Pakistani, Arabic and English.


And Lorraine Hexstall, who received her master’s degree in Developmental Psychology, recounted the many years she spent trying to help her son, who had been wrongly diagnosed with “test anxiety.” Inspired by a lone teacher—a TC alumna—who took a different view, she decided that “for me to successfully advocate for my son, I had to become as knowledgeable as that teacher was.” She returned to school after a 16-year hiatus and provides advocacy services “to ordinary parents struggling with the same sense of hopelessness I once had.”


Musical interludes at Commencement were performed by current and graduating students. At the Monday, May 18th master’s degree ceremony, “There Will Never Be Another You,” by Harry Warren & Mack Gordon, was performed by Lindsay St. Onge (vocals), Daniel Hartig, (guitar), Ari Kessler (piano) and Jeffrey Koch (bass), all of whom were graduating with master’s degrees in Music & Music Education. At the Tuesday morning master’s degree ceremony, “The Climb, Go the Distance,” by Jessi Alexander, John Mabe, Alan Menken and David Zippel, was performed by graduating Music Education master’s degree student Rhea Francani, with accompaniment by Mark Oleszko, a continuing student in the same program. Francani and Oleszko also performed at the afternoon master’s degree ceremony. And at the Wednesday doctoral hooding, pianists and Music Education doctoral students Barbara Lister-Sink and Suzanne Zakperformed “Slavonic Dance,” Op. 46 No. 1, for four hands, by Antonin Dvořák.

Visit TC's Convocation site for more photo and video highlights.

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