Message for the Class of 2011: Support higher education, give hell to those who don’t
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich gave keynote address
SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2010 -- At San Francisco State University's 110th Commencement today keynote speaker Jeffrey L. Bleich, ambassador of the United States to Australia and a former California State University trustee, congratulated the Class of 2011 and challenged them to restore the state of California to its former greatness.
“The promise of low-cost education that brought me here and so many others here, and kept so many here, has been abandoned,” Bleich said as he urged SF State’s newest graduates to take up the fight against statewide cuts to higher education. “The cost of education should be shared by all of us because the benefit of education is shared by all of us.”
“Give of your self,” Bleich told graduates. “Contribute to your alumni fund…give time to help, encourage and mentor students who are coming up through the system. Give thanks and credit to your teachers. And when you run into people who dismiss public education, who demand cuts for cuts sake, I want you to give them something too—I want you to give them hell.”
President Robert A. Corrigan presided over his 22nd Commencement exercises as SF State awarded diplomas before a crowd of more than 20,000 guests at Cox Stadium. Diverse in their accomplishments and origins, more than 8,000 students from 104 countries received degrees today, including 85 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The many contributions that these graduates have made to their surrounding communities were also cause for celebration at today’s ceremony as President Corrigan announced that SF State was just named one of only three recipients of the Presidential Award for community service. The honor, part of the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community service.
“This award acknowledges your hard work,” President Corrigan told the Class of 2011, “and the hard work of the faculty who have helped you to apply what you are learning to the needs of those around us.”
Aleksandr Pankov, a presidential scholar and the hood recipient for the College of Science and Engineering, represented the Class of 2011 as its student speaker. At SF State Pankov has explored how genes are changed by tumors and cancer, and how these mutations might influence the outcomes of potential treatments. This fall he will begin a doctorate in bioinformatics at University of California, San Francisco. Quoting Tolstoy, who said, “pleasure lies not in discovering truth, but in seeking it,” Pankov said he found his true calling inside SF State’s classrooms. “It is because San Francisco State encourages students to take their own paths,” he said, “that those paths lead to success.”
SF State honored Flora Chia-I Chang as its 2011 Alumna of the Year. Chang, president of Tamkang University, Taiwan’s oldest private university, and a professor of educational policy and leadership, told the Class of 2011 to heed the advice of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Chang, who has initiated academic partnerships and exchanges in 28 countries with 110 universities, said that San Francisco State has served as her model. She commended President Corrigan for hiring a diverse faculty and said SF States’s “global outlook and pioneering community service learning program has helped shaped my vision.”
For their passionate advocacy of higher education both the keynote speaker and alumnus George M. Marcus, who has also served on the CSU Board of Trustees, received honorary degrees today from the CSU and SF State. Bleich received an honorary Doctor of Laws, and Marcus, founder and chairman of The Marcus & Millichap Company, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. A business leader and philanthropist, Marcus serves on the CSU Foundation's Board of Governors.
Also during the ceremony, President Corrigan awarded a President's Medal to leading jazz musician Jimmy Cobb, who helped develop SF State’s Generations Jazz Project, an ongoing jazz education program. The medal honors Cobb’s distinguished musical career and mentorship. Leroy M. Morishita, who has served SF State for 29 years, most recently as executive vice president and chief financial officer, also received a President’s Medal. The newly named interim president of California State University East Bay, Morishita was honored for his educational leadership.
SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls more than 30,000 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 205,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.
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