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UD celebrates newest grads

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High-resolution video of Winter Commencement

Low-resolution video of Winter Commencement

Slide show of Winter Commencement 2007

UD celebrates newest grads

Medal of Distinction citation for James R. Soles

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Winter Commencement facts

Leonard Stark
Howard E. Cosgrove (right), chairman of the Board of Trustees, presents the Medal of Distinction to Prof. James R. Soles.
At the age of 68, Grace Dougherty George, of Townsend, who received a bachelor’s degree in human services, education and public policy leadership, was the most mature graduate at Winter Commencement.
New grad Ken Higgins (center) with (from left) Sara Higgins, BE ‘02; Amy Higgins Neil, AS ‘01; Kristen Baldyga, AS ‘05; and Donna McGinnis Higgins, AS ‘71
Bachelor’s degree recipients Mark Purtell White and Sarah Melisse White (center) with their aunt, master’s degree recipient Catherine M. Evans, an accountant for Recreation Services at UD

Click here to download a podcast of Winter Commencement.

5:25 p.m., Jan. 6, 2007--On a morning marked by bright sunshine and spring-like temperatures, the newest members of the Class of 2006 gathered in UD's Bob Carpenter Sports/Convocation Center on Saturday, Jan. 6, to receive their diplomas during Winter Commencement ceremonies.

UD President David P. Roselle welcomed the audience of more than 4,500, which included family and friends of the Class of 2006, as well as the graduates and UD faculty, administrators and members of the UD Board of Trustees.

“Congratulations on this very special day in your lives,” Roselle said. “I hope you appreciate the sacrifices that have been made for you and that you will take the time to thank those who have helped you reach your individual achievement,” Roselle said. “I hope in your life's journey, you too, will support others, both known and unknown to you, who have helped you along the way.”

More than 500 of the 1,456 students who completed their degree requirements in August and December attended the ceremony.

Continuing a tradition of distinguished alumni serving as guest speakers at Winter Commencement ceremonies, Leonard P. Stark, assistant U.S. attorney in Wilmington, began his remarks by praising the accomplishments made at UD during the tenure of President Roselle.

“[Roselle] arrived on campus 17 years ago when I was a junior here. He happened to be the third president we had had on campus in three years,” Stark said. “He stuck around for 17 wonderful years, and in that time he has taken this institution to unprecedented heights, both nationally and internationally, while still retaining and enhancing the vitality of this institution as a central player in the life of the state of Delaware.”

Members of the Class of 2006 and their guests responded to Stark's remarks by giving Roselle a rousing round of applause.

Stark said that Roselle also had a huge impact on his career both at UD and after graduation through a remark he made after a scholarship committee before which Stark appeared.

“It turned out that during my interview I dodged and weaved and filibustered and didn't tell the committee a thing that they wanted to hear,” Stark said. “After my interview, President Roselle pulled me aside to say that while I had some pretty good credentials on paper, nobody was ever going to give me anything in this world unless I quickly learned to answer questions.”

Stark also praised another UD mentor, James R. Soles, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus, who received the UD Medal of Distinction later in the Commencement ceremony.

“There is a group of former students of Dr. Soles who call ourselves the Soles' seminar,” Stark said. “We are a few dozen folks who get together once or twice a year down at the beach to talk about politics and watch CNN and just to hang out with Dr. Soles and benefit from his company and wisdom.”

Members of the Soles' seminar group include judges, assistants to senators and governors, as well as successful lawyers and business people, Stark said.

“Many of these folks are here this morning, and I think that tells you everything you need to know about Dr. Soles and what he represents to the University,” Stark said. “When you realize how many extremely busy people with very full lives continuously go out of their way just to have the opportunity to spend some time with him, it shows that he is that kind of a man, that kind of a teacher and role model.”

One of his memorable experiences with Soles was a Study Abroad trip to a divided Berlin in January 1989, Stark said.

“The Berlin Wall was a horrifying, tangible illustration of the evil that human beings are capable of inflicting on one anther,” Stark said. “It separated families, and literally, as well as symbolically, it trapped millions of people in desolation, depriving those on the eastern side of the wall of the freedom and material comforts that those of the West take for granted.”

Stark said the fact that the Berlin Wall had come down when he returned a year later in 1990 on another Study Abroad trip gave him a sense of optimism for the future despite evidence that might indicate otherwise.

“In 1989, the Cold War had persisted for 45 years, and it seemed like the Berlin Wall would always be there with us, but by 1990, the wall had come down, so I do not subscribe to the view that all is bad and is destined to get worse,” Stark said. “I think that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War and so much that goes on every day disproves the bleak, dark prognosis that you frequently hear. I believe that the potential for human improvement and progress is a great today as ever before.”

Members of the Class of 2006, through the use of the education they acquired at UD, have the potential to continue to make the world a better place for themselves and their dependents, Stark said.

“As graduates of this, one of the nation's leading universities, you are equipped with all the tools you need to make the world a better place,” he said. “I urge you to go forth to use those skills to ensure that future generations are not able to look back on today and conclude that we had it so much better then.”

Stark also urged the graduates to create a world that they will find fulfilling on a personal level.

“I suggest that part of what you do is to make it a priority to spend as much time as you possibly can with those people who are in the world that mean the most to you, and to whom you mean the world,” Stark said. “For me, it is my wife and three children. I have found that if you take the time just to be there, and to keep your eyes and ears and heart open, you will experience moments of such exquisite eloquence that you will have no cause to doubt that this world truly is a wonderful place.”

Medal of Distinction awarded

After Stark's remarks, Howard E. Cosgrove, chairman of the Board of Trustees, presented the UD Medal of Distinction to James R. Soles, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Medals of distinction are presented to individuals whose contribution to the UD quality of life warrant exceptional recognition.

In his remarks, Soles thanked the UD Board of Trustees for bringing Louise and David Roselle to the University.

“Their leadership over these last years has made UD the distinguished institution that they must have envisioned when they chose Dr. Roselle,” Soles said. “I cannot think of an act of any board in the history of this institution that has been more important than bringing this couple to UD and to Newark.”

On congratulating the Class of 2006, Soles aid that there were four gifts he wished for them and would bestow on them if it were in his power.

“I would like to wish each of you in the future, a loving companion for life's journey. I would like to wish for the future for you work worth doing,” Soles said. “I hope that you will find a cause greater than yourself, and that you will develop a sustaining faith to guide you during your life.”

In noting that his own life has been devoted to the cause of citizenship, Soles urged the graduates to become citizens in more than name only.

“We are born Americans, but that is simply a matter of birth,” Soles said. “I challenge you to become a citizen by earning the title through your actions, through your participation, through your commitment and through your dedication.”

Soles also noted that there are three kinds of citizens, including the unloving critics who are “never loving and critical.” There also are, he said, the “uncritical lovers, and frankly they are just as bad, because they love their country, regardless of what it does.”

The third type of citizen, Soles said, is the loving critic.

“I hope that is the type that you will be,” Soles said. “The motto at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is frequently quoted, only in part, 'My country right or wrong.' The rest of the quote is 'if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.'”

Soles also noted that he was about the same age as many of the Class of 2006 on a January day in 1961 when John F. Kennedy took the oath of office during his inaugural in Washington, D.C.

“There are many quotations from that inaugural address, but there is one that I suggest should stand out from the rest, and should guide all of us who are committed to our land,” Soles said. “It was close to the end of his speech, 'With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love....'”

Shana Ross, a senior arts and sciences major, sang the national anthem and the alma mater at the ceremony.

Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Duane Perry and Kathy F. Atkinson

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