The School of General Studies celebrated the class of 2010 at the Class Day and Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 16, and Tuesday, May 18, respectively.
At Class Day, the Class of 2010, alumni marchers, and faculty were led in by Howard Fishman’s Biting Fish Brass Band, and then the ceremony began with a rendition of the national anthem by Lena Park ’10, a Korean R&B star and magna cum laude graduate (incidentally, Lena’s performance propelled the full YouTube video of the GS Class Day ceremony to the No. 3 video in South Korea, and the No. 3 educational video worldwide).
After brief remarks by Dean Peter Awn, President Lee Bollinger spoke about the unique nature of GS students, offering such examples as Sean O’Keefe, a Green Beret who is one of the first recipients of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program to graduate from Columbia and who will attend the London School of Economics in the fall; the five former professional dancers who founded the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Ashley Flood, Emily Hayden, Larissa Higgins, Victoria North and Lydia Walker; and Stephen Tobias, a successful stockbroker who returned to finish his bachelor’s degree while in his 50s.
The Class Day speaker was noted chef, author, and television personality Jacques Pépin,’70. In his speech Pépin detailed his personal journey: leaving school at age 13 to work in a French kitchen, immigrating to America in 1959, and attending GS part-time for nearly a decade while working in research and development for Howard Johnson’s. Pépin stated that, although he was already a successful chef, he would never have been successful as a writer and television personality without the liberal arts education he received at Columbia. Invoking G.K. Chesterton, he noted that, since the graduates had now acquired an education, they were now free from the “horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”
Valedictorian Brian Corman related anecdotes about the graduating class as a testament to the diversity found at GS and encouraged the class to persevere despite adversity, citing Timothy Goebel ’10, an Olympic bronze medalist who, at the 1999 Skate America competition, fell down at the beginning of his program and then got up and subsequently landed three quadruple jumps, the only figure skater ever to do so in competition.
Subsequently, Katherine Edwards, the president of the General Studies Student Council, was awarded the Alumni Key for outstanding academic achievement and service to the school. Dean of Students Scott Halvorson then presented the graduates, who ascended the stage and were congratulated by Dean Awn and President Bollinger.
After the ceremony concluded, graduates and guests mingled with members of the faculty and administration at a reception on Hamilton Lawn.
Graduates braved the rain on Tuesday to convene with graduates from all of Columbia’s other schools for the Commencement ceremony, at which degrees are officially conferred. President Bollinger offered some academic folk wisdom as consolation: “If it rains on you’re Commencement, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous life.”
Also at Commencement, alumnus Larry Lawrence ’69, Business ’71 was awarded an alumni medal for service to the University. As the abbreviated ceremony concluded, graduates filed out to the strains of “New York, New York” and adjourned to the GS Lounge to pick up their diplomas and celebrate with a champagne toast.
Photos are available on the GS Facebook page.
Video of Ceremonies
You may download video of the Class Day and Commencement Ceremonies on Columbia's iTunes U page.
You may also view the videos on Columbia's YouTube channel.
Thanks to the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) for its work with the graduation videos.