President Corrigan and speakers ask graduates to put SF State values into action
SAN FRANCISCO, May 26, 2007 -- San Francisco State University graduates were challenged by President Robert A. Corrigan to "put their San Francisco values into action," at the University's 106th Commencement held today in Cox Stadium on the University campus.
Corrigan urged graduates to stay committed to the University's core values of social justice, equity and diversity, challenging them "to go out and live by the values that this singular university stands for -- the values we hope we have imparted to you."
The class of 2007, with 8,041 graduates, is the largest in SF State history. About half of the class was in attendance, along with a crowd of 20,000 guests.
"We expect you to be a force for good," President Corrigan told the new graduates, "to say no to greed, say no to opportunism, say no to dishonesty and decide that integrity -- your own moral compass -- is what really matters."
Each graduating student received a postcard to serve as a reminder of the principles and values that SF State helped to foster throughout their education. Graduates were encouraged to send the postcard back to their alma mater in the months and years to come to let the president know how they put their SF State values into action.
Keynote speaker Kamala Harris, San Francisco's first woman district attorney and the first African American woman D.A. in California history, delivered the keynote address. Harris told the graduates they must face and break barriers to achieve their dreams, and that by doing so they "will become the new leaders with new perspectives and a new way of thinking about how to create solutions that no one thought possible."
The district attorney, who has pursued her passion for civil rights throughout her career, closed by telling the graduates: "Times like these call for people like you to stand up and get to work, to break barriers, to drive change, roll up your sleeves instead of throwing up your hands … Today you graduate. Tomorrow, there is no barrier on what you can do."
During the ceremony, SF State honored producer/director Arthur Dong as 2007 Alumnus of the Year. Dong, who earned a bachelor's degree in film in 1982, is the recipient of numerous awards for his work and for public service. His documentary films have explored such subjects as homosexuality and America 's culture wars, and Asian American nightclub performers in the 1940s. "Sewing Woman," a documentary about his mother's immigration to America from China, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1984.
Dong encouraged graduates to seek to understand others, even those with whom they strongly disagree. "It is important to call upon our own sense of compassion, to understand our adversaries," he said. "Tolerance is a two-way street, a road that is very little traveled."
Student speaker Tal Levy-Chen, a business administration major who successfully launched a new cereal product while still an undergraduate student, elaborated on San Francisco State values. She told her fellow graduates: "At San Francisco State I learned that a college degree … carries a great responsibility: a responsibility to make careful and thoughtful decisions as educated individuals, understanding that the choices we make not only impact ourselves but also our families, communities and the world we live in."
SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls about 29,000 students each year and graduates about 8,000 annually. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 150,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.
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