Class of 2021 begins a four-year journey at Convocation

The College held its annual Convocation, which officially begins the academic year at CMC. For the class of 2021, the ceremony marks the beginning of a years-long journey that will end with graduation.

“You’re standing on the precipice of a new freedom,” Rabbi Daniel Shapiro, Chaplain of The Claremont Colleges, said in his invocation. “Academic freedom to pursue your interests and freedom to structure your work-time and social activities.”

Rabbi Shapiro challenged first year students to be mindful of the journey and at the challenges they will face over the next four years. He hoped that on the day of their graduation those new to CMC are “able to look upon this journey, starting from today’s jump, as a time of immense growth, both personally and academically.”

In his welcoming remarks, President Hiram E. Chodosh extended CMC’s support to students and families from Texas who came from areas that might be affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. “I’m humbled by the seeming insurmountable challenges we face in the world and the opportunities at our fingertips,” he said. “I’m humbled by all we need to learn by the leadership we need to grow to put that learning to work.”

Acknowledging the divisiveness that confronts many, “a world that seems to want to pay more attention to the negative than the positive,” President Chodosh urged students to nurture their ability to learn and then put that learning to work.

“Take a moment to see it, listen to it, soak it in, draw from it,” he said. “The power and creativity in our minds, the passion and warmth in our community and the courage and humility in our leadership.”

In her keynote address (“Collegiate Decision Making Informed by Environmental Policymaking”), Prof. Mary F. Evans P’21, the Jerrine and Thomas Mitchell ’66 Associate Professor of Environmental Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow, advised students that during their time at CMC they will see a shifting external world that will bring measures of turmoil or hope.

“CMC cannot inoculate you against the harms of the external world,” she said, “nor should it. But you’ve chosen CMC because you value a community that embraces reason, dialogue, and even disagreement and one that rejects violence, threats, and intimidation.”

Professor Evans explained that the field of environmental economics takes methods and concepts from economics and brings them to bear on environmental questions. “For me, the most interesting questions in economics are those that tackle other problems – social problems like crime or pollution,” she said.

She then shared four insights motivated by her experiences: The best outcome often lies in between two extreme options; tradeoffs are unavoidable in life; information has power which can be harnessed or exploited; and finally, to not take rejection personally or let it impede forward progress.

Offering a few final reflections, Sami Malas ’19, President of the Associated Students of CMC, talked about journeys. “Our time at CMC is a journey,” he said. “Every club you join, class you take or discussion you have will affect your path.

“As I reflect on my own journey at CMC thus far, I remember both the unique and shared moments, the lows and the highs,” Malas said. “I remember the paths I’ve taken. As I enter my last year at CMC, I’d do anything to go back to my first year and re-walk this path for the first time again.

“Enjoy every part of the journey you are about to embark on or the one you are in the middle of. First year students, your path has just begun. Your first year is a time of trial. Try that club … attend that class … engage in that discussion … and challenge your professors and your peers. These trials will help you find the path that’s right for you.”


At each Convocation CMC recognizes faculty and staff for outstanding achievements. This year, Professor Peter Uvin, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, cited the following honorees:

25 Years of Service

Ms. Germaine Graham, Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid, Kravis Center
Mr. Steven Graves, Head Athletic Trainer, CMS

30 Years of Service

Ms. Lydia Aguiar, Administrative Assistant, Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum
Professor Asuman G. Aksoy P’07, Crown Professor of Mathematics and George R. Roberts Fellow
Ms. June Alexander, Building Attendant
Mr. Lorenzo Herrera, Senior Maintenance Worker
Professor James C. Higdon,  Physics, Keck Science Department
Mr. John Meany, Director, Forensics/Debate Union
Professor James D. Taylor, J.D., Senior Lecturer, Robert Day School of Economics and Finance
Mr. Randall G. Town, M.A., Associate Director of Physical Education
Professor Robert J. Valenza, Dengler-Dykema Chair of Mathematics and the Humanities

35 Years of Service

Ms. Barbara Maxwell, Director of Budgeting and Grants Administration

40 Years of Service

Ms. Janet Dreyer, Director, CMC Children’s School

45 Years of Service

Professor Colin Wright, Norwood and Frances Berger Professor of Business & Society, Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

Staff Recognition

Ms. Lyn Hughes, Administrative Director, Dean of Students Office
Ms. Velda F. Yount, Program Administrator and Assistant to the Dean of Joint Science/Program Administrator, Keck Science Department

Faculty Recognition

Presidential Award for Merit

Professor Amy L. Kind, Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy

Faculty Scholarship Award

Professor Roderic A. Camp, Philip M. McKenna Professor of the Pacific Rim

Roy P. Crocker Award for Merit

Professor Adam S. Landsberg, Keck Science Department

The Glenn R. Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching

Professor Emily A. Wiley, Keck Science Department

The G. David Huntoon Senior Teaching Award

Professor Jennifer Armstrong, Keck Science Department

New Faculty

Jennifer Clark, Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Head Coach of CMS Women’s Soccer
Julio Garín, Assistant Professor of Economics, Robert Day School
Michael Gelman, Assistant Professor of Economics, Robert Day School
Ulysses J. Sophia, Weinberg Family Dean, Keck Science Department
Ethan Van Arnam, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Keck Science Department
Chelsea Wang, Assistant Professor of History