2020 Convocation: “Our Moment”

In his 2020-21 Convocation address, President Hiram Chodosh proposed a challenge to the CMC community.

“Years later, when we look back at now, what is the story we would like to be able to tell?”

Themed “Our Moment,” this year’s Convocation ceremony was held virtually for the first time and welcomed all CMC students, alumni, families, and friends to join. Chodosh’s opening remarks directly addressed the societal challenges posed since March, from COVID-19 to racial violence to economic dislocation. However, instead of feeling helpless or restricted by distance, Chodosh pointed to how CMCers have been more motivated than ever to build a stronger community with one another.

He cited the College's response to “the sudden, sad, speedy, safe, successful departure from our campus last March.” Since then, faculty have also created “innovative curricular designs and generous accommodation from tutorials, to distributed labs, and extra class sessions to manage time differences.” Chodosh further praised the “the fierce dedication of our staff and faculty to reach out, to build community,” as well as “the remarkable response of our student body who chose not to wait it out on the sidelines and instead are here to learn and have fun on a new field of play this semester.”

“Based on this record of accomplishment and commitment to our community building, we should all be confident we can respond to whatever the world throws at us this year,” he concluded. “Think of all the stories we will write together this year, stories that will give purpose to our learning together. Stories that will make a difference in our own lives and those of others. Thanks to all of you for co-authoring this. Our moment.”

George Thomas, the Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions, followed with a keynote address: “The Uncertainty of Living History.”

“Based on this record of accomplishment and commitment to our community building, we should all be confident we can respond to whatever the world throws at us this year,” he concluded. “Think of all the stories we will write together this year, stories that will give purpose to our learning together. Stories that will make a difference in our own lives and those of others. Thanks to all of you for co-authoring this. Our moment.”

George Thomas, the Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions, followed with a keynote address: “The Uncertainty of Living History.”

“You’ve heard, I’m sure, that you’re living in an historical moment,” he said. "When you’re living through history, you don’t know how it turns out. And you don’t know, in part, because it depends on the sort of things you do at that moment.”

How history will turn out, Thomas said, will “depend on what we do and how we live.”

Thomas concluded on a bright note: “If we can harness the talent and energy of our students, we may come out of our current moment better than we went in. I am most hopeful about the future when I think of the role CMC students will play in shaping it. …in the face of uncertainty, let us see the possibility.”

Johnson Lin ’21, president of the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College, reflected upon what he’s learned in 2020. “If this year has taught me anything it’s that CMCers are not quitters,” he said.

“Let me show you who we are,” Lin continued. “We are innovators, who have come up with creative ways to make our community more accessible and efficient. We are advocates who have stepped up in the fight in the last few months against racism. We are scholars who produce academic work respected by experts around the world.”

Like Chodosh and Thomas, Lin left the CMC community with something heartfelt and profound to ponder. “What defines us is that we are family. As I enter my last year as a student, I can tell you that the friends and mentors I’ve met at CMC will be cherished for the rest of my life.”


As is custom at Convocation, several faculty and staff members were honored by the College for distinguished service. Coreen Rodgers, vice president for business and chief operating officer, and Shana Levin, associate dean of the faculty, Crown Professor of Psychology, and George R. Roberts Fellow, cited the following honorees:

25 Years of Service

Cheryl Aguilar
Manfred Keil
Devon Lopez
Ron Riggio P’10
Ray Rotolo ’76 P’14

30 Years of Service

John Farrell
Rafael Huereca
Cynthia Humes P’15

35 Years of Service

John Faranda ’79
Ralph Rossum P’01 P’08
Teresa Ruiz

40 Years of Service

Marc Massoud P’89
Nick Warner

Faculty Recognition

Professor Dan Krauss, Roy P. Crocker Award for Service

Professor Aseema Sinha, The G. David Huntoon Senior Teaching Award

Professor Derik Smith, The Glenn R. Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching

Professor Sam Nelson, Faculty Scholarship Award

Professor Joshua Rosett, The Dean’s Distinguished Service Award

- Anne Bergman