President Hiram E. Chodosh welcomed a new class of students by invoking “the original idea” of the College’s founders to seek a “rationally balanced” education to meet the political, economic, social, and cultural needs to prepare themselves “for tomorrow’s world of affairs.”
At the annual Convocation in McKenna Auditorium, Chodosh told the class of 2022, faculty, and staff that “our very first students, nearly all veterans returning from war in 1946, lined up here to pursue a dream,” one deferred and intensified by time spent in overseas combat or on stateside duty in remote bases. At CMC, those first students used G.I. Bill funding to “prepare themselves to be someone, something, somebody who could build a future for themselves, their family, and their country.”
The “original idea” urged by Chodosh was first expressed by Mabel Benson, a literature scholar who wrote CMC’s first catalog and was married to founding president George Benson. Chodosh said “our tomorrow poses an equally challenging world of affairs.”
He also cited two major challenges facing this generation of CMC students. First, “the exponential growth of technology is outpacing the technical, ethical, and policy intelligence of our society.” Second, “in a world that was supposed to flatten borders and divisions…we appear increasingly divided” through media “bifurcated into red and blue outlets” and “self-serving echo chambers” driven by social media algorithms.
“I believe we can solve each and every one of these problems: if we only knew what we had to learn, and how to do it together. That is why our program is so rigorous, so interdisciplinary, so focused on hands-on experience, so generous in opportunities for advanced research,” Chodosh said.
“That is why we expand student opportunity through scholarships and the Soll Center, why we invest in interdisciplinary science, computer science, and data science, why we sustain the collaborative inquiry of our centers, institutes, and labs, why we commit so heavily to our scholar-teachers in the liberal arts and the profound impact they have on our students.”
To close, Chodosh implored CMC students to, “reach back to honor our original idea. Reach forward to meet the needs of tomorrow’s world of affairs.”
Lenny Fukshansky, Professor of Mathematics, followed with a keynote address about the power of a basic idea. Like Chodosh, he said the originality and creativity of current CMC students can help solve today’s most pressing problems. An idea can also start as something simple, he said, but it must be guided by core CMC tenets like “freedom of academic expression and intellectual pursuit, and the diversity of informed opinions and thoughtful discussion.”
“You are here to learn and intellectually develop, you are here to gain experience and to meet people, but most importantly you are here to search for ideas, your ideas, to unleash your imagination,” Fukshansky said. “We are here to help you.”
Maya Love ’20, President of the Associated Students of CMC, echoed Fukshansky’s call for support and community. While addressing each individual class at CMC, from first-years to seniors, Love encouraged her fellow students to take advantage of leadership opportunities and engage in meaningful exploration with one another.
“We are unified by the pursuit of moving forward. I am confident in saying we are all hungry to learn, grow, and excel in becoming the best versions of ourselves,” she said.
“I chose to be part of the CMC community because there is an expectation of not being satisfied with yesterday’s work. To all my peers, I challenge you to not just be part of this community, but to eagerly contribute to what you want it to look like for today to improve the future.”
As is custom at Convocation, several faculty and staff members were honored by the college for distinguished service. Professors Peter Uvin, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, and Shana Levin, Crown Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the Faculty, cited the following honorees:
25 Years of Service
30 Years of Service
Professor Robert Faggen
35 Years of Service
Professor Charles R. Kesler
40 Years of Service
Professor James H. Nichols
Professor Ellen K. Rentz, Roy P. Crocker Award for Service
Professor Hilary B. Appel, The G. David Huntoon Senior Teaching Award
Professor Adrienne M. Martin, The Glenn R. Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching
Professor Jonathan Petropoulos, Faculty Scholarship Award
Professor Eric A. Helland P’20, Presidential Award for Merit