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Colleges and universities celebrate commencement with pomp, circumstance, and more than a bit of controversy

Colorfully, Some Students Protest McCain at Columbia Ceremony
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/17/nyregion/17columbia.html

McCain Urges Respect for Different Views
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051500294.html

The Art of the Commencement Speech
http://www.humanity.org/voices/commencements/

To the Grads: Platitudes with Attitude [Real Player]
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5402893

The Halls of Ivy [Real Player, iTunes]
http://www.otrpodcast.com/shows/comedy/hallsofivy.html

As anyone involved in the world of higher education can tell you, commencement time has arrived once again. Many people look upon the events surrounding such festivities with rose-colored glasses, choosing only to take with them the fond memories of final moments with college chums and a teary-eyed glance back at the Old Main. For others, it’s a time to cast a critical glance at whomever the administration has asked to deliver the commencement speech to graduates, family, and friends on that all-important day. The week began on a high note for some graduates as few complained about an appearance by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush at Tulane University. After their remarks were met with rousing applause, Ellen DeGeneres made a surprise appearance, noting that she never passes up an opportunity to follow two presidents. Of course, those in the know had to figure things were going to take a turn for the worse when Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s plane was struck by lightning on its way from a commencement speech at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Later in the week, both Senator John McCain and Bill Cosby were met with a variety of responses as they gave commencement speeches at Columbia University and the University of the District of Columbia, respectively. At Columbia, McCain was chastised for his support for the Iraq war, and while Cosby was met with a much warmer reception, as there were a number of people who remained supportive of his “call out” to the African-American community. But still others leveled claims that his previous comments about poorer African-Americans were elitist and mean-spirited. Commencements across the United States continue over the next few weeks, so ample opportunities to view such elaborate and occasionally contentious ceremonies exist in many quarters of the nation.

The first link will take visitors to a piece offered in this Tuesday’s USA Today that talks about Cosby’s recent commencement speech at the University of the District of Columbia. The second link leads to an article in this Wednesday’s New York Times by Patrick Healy that provides material on how some Columbia students chose to protest (and support) the appearance of McCain at their commencement activities. The third link from the Washington Post offers some excerpts from McCain’s remarks this past week at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, which was the source of much consternation and debate as well. For those seeking to examine some commencement speeches of yore, the fourth link leads to a site provided by Humanity.org, which contains several dozen speeches offered by Steve Jobs, Lewis Lapham, Cornel West, and others. The fifth link will whisk users away to a delightful piece by Scott Simon which offers some platitudes for graduating students in the class of 2006 to chew on if their speaker fails to show up. The last and final link leads to a delightful archive of the radio show “Halls of Ivy”, which ran from 1950 to 1952 and featured the Academy-Award winning actor Ronald Colman and his wife, Benita Hume. For a glimpse of life in the “old college days”, it is without equal, and to listen to Colman’s voice is worth the price of admission…well, it would be if the show cost anything.
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Alternate Title Cosby gives a ‘Call Out’
Classification
GEM Subject
Creator
Publisher
Date Issued 2006
Language
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2006-05-19
Archived Scout Publication URL https://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/2006/scout-060519#1

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