|June 17, 2007|
Commencement 2007 coverage
ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson, a familiar face to millions, officially became part of the Union community at the College’s 213th Commencement Sunday.
More Commencement 2007 coverage:
Charles Gibson delivers the 213th Commencement address to the class of 2007.
“Were it not for this institution, I would not be here,” Gibson told students, families and friends gathered in Hull Plaza on Father’s Day. He recounted that his father, Burdett Gibson, Union Class of 1923, had married his roommate’s sister.
Gibson outlined five ethical imperatives for students – compassion, honesty, fairness, trustworthiness and respect for others.
“If those things are not the bedrocks of your life, you will suffer from their absence in time. And, I would wager, you won’t much like yourself,” he said.
“As you leave here, you need to know what it is you stand for – because ‘out there,’ the choices are not going to be easy. You will find times when you’ll be asked to choose between your values and expediency.”
He added, “You have a good solid base. And you have a Union education. It served my father well, and it will do the same for you.”
Some 500 students received diplomas in front of the Nott Memorial.
Prior to Gibson’s speech, President Ainlay, in his first Commencement ceremony, presented Gibson with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Later, citing a “remarkable act of generosity,” he announced that Gibson helped College officials establish a scholarship in memory of his father.
The eponymous award will be given each year to a student in financial need.
“We are so pleased that today you join your father and uncle (Charles D. Gibson, Class of 1920) as members of the Union family,” Ainlay said.
In appreciation, Ainlay gave Gibson a copy of the 1923 Union Yearbook and a framed copy of Burdett Gibson’s Yearbook entry. Noting that the elder Gibson was cited for “coming out of the most overwhelming situations unscathed,” Ainlay said, “I hope he passed along his secret to you.”
Graduates exit Library Plaza to the cheers of family and friends.
Gibson, 64, was introduced by his good friend, Trustee Emeritus Phil Beuth ’54. Beuth, a retired television executive, helped launch Gibson’s anchoring career by hiring him to co-host ABC’s Good Morning America in 1986.
In his remarks, Ainlay underscored that members of the Class of 2007 “have walked the same pathways as did many illustrious graduates,” from Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward (Class of 1820) to MacArthur “genius” and public health researcher Sue Goldie (Class of 1984).
He impressed upon the students that “Now it is your turn to realize your dreams… to invent things that will improve people’s lives… to lead institutions… to mend lives and heal wounds… to educate… to take responsibility for the welfare of the communities in which you will live.
“Now, in short, it is your turn to make a difference.”
Before the ceremony began, Ainlay, Gibson and another featured guest, noted classicist and scholar Richard Sorabji, arrived on campus in a 1914 Duplex Drive Brougham Detroit Electric Automobile once owned by Union Professor and Electrical Engineering wizard Charles Proteus Steinmetz.
Sorabji, professor emeritus of philosophy at King’s College London and former associate professor at Cornell University, received a Doctor of Letters Sunday. He urged students to turn to ancient philosophy for suggestions on “how to deal with problems and how to deal with life.”
Student speaker Karyn A. Amira '07 delivers the student address at the 2007 Commencement.
Karyn Amira, a Political Science major and Psychology minor from Newton, Mass., gave the student address. The daughter of Stephen Amira ’71, she had enthusiastic praise for the Class of 2007’s achievements, including environmental advocacy, fundraising for cancer and autism, and the launch of the Dutch Oven, “perhaps the funniest publication at any college or university.”
Jonathan Young of Walnut, Calif., a dual Biology/Economics major, was named class valedictorian, and Psychology major Leigh Ann Holterman of Albany was salutatorian.
Ainlay closed Commencement 2007 ceremonies by paraphrasing a charge to students issued by Union’s first president, John Blair Smith, more than two centuries ago: “As you leave this place, do so ready to live a useful life.”