Convocation 2009 encourages students to make a difference
by Andrew Wickenden '09 and Melissa Sue Sorrells '05
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF DIRECT RELIEF INTERNATIONAL
THOMAS TIGHE LL.D. '03 IN FRONT OF STERN HALL
"We begin this year with the charge to think carefully about this enormous opportunity before us - living in this stunning place, engaging with faculty members, staff and other students," said Colleges President Mark D. Gearan, officially starting the 2009-2010 academic year during Convocation. "How can all of us evidence our global citizenship? How can we make a difference on this campus, in this community of Geneva and for this world?"
To begin to answer those questions, President and CEO of Direct Relief International and Convocation 2009 Keynote Speaker Thomas Tighe LL.D.'03 gave students, faculty, staff and community members three criteria of a global citizen: "First of all, you have to care. Second, you have to think. Third, you have to act.
"People are always ultimately responsible for the actions that occur on their watch," said Tighe about the importance of social responsibility to global citizenship. "Being a good global citizen means that it's up to each one of us to make judgments about the issues that matter, the type of world we want to live in and where we engage our time and efforts. The notion of being a good global citizen has to be figured out on a personal level by each one of us. Being here at Hobart and William Smith, you have the unique opportunity to show the rest of the world what 'good' looks like."
This year's recipient of the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, Assistant Professor of Philosophy Carol Oberbrunner, also addressed the Convocation theme: "The more connected we all are with each other, the better we will be at hearing the voices and the needs of the world's people," said Oberbrunner. "My wish for all of us is that the humanitarian and global awareness fostered here and the precious connections which we make here will continue to energize us - both for the sake of our own community and for the sake of our fellow beings nearby and far away."
Student Trustees Dan DeNose '10 and Regina Triplett '10 reflected on the intersections of global education and service. DeNose noted that global citizenship is intertwined in the Colleges' mission statement. "How will you become a leader in the 21st century?" he asked. "How will you become a global citizen? Take heed and take advantage of our Colleges and our community. Geneva needs you and the world needs you."
"Whether you are a student, a professor, a staff member, a member of the Geneva community, or the president of a nonprofit global humanitarian organization, you are powerful beyond measure and your light can and does shine across the globe," said Triplett.
"You may go on to public service, or to the private sector or to the non-profit sector, but all of us have the chance to engage with one another to fashion a life committed to ideals and values," Gearan said. "I open the academic year and these Exercises of Convocation in the spirit of global citizenship and for the difference each and every one of us can make in the year ahead."