Wellesley College Celebrates Its 127th Commencement

For immediate release:
June 3, 2005
Arlie Corday

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley College alumna and Commencement speaker Patricia J. Williams told the 553 members of the Class of 2005 to find inspiration on this special day and its underlying message. “The exuberant power of this moment is your grounding for the future, a source to draw from,” she said, as Wellesley celebrated its 127th Commencement under sunny skies and with balmy temperatures on Friday, June 3, on the Wellesley, Mass., campus.

Williams, a professor at Columbia University School of Law, had some advice for her soon-to-be fellow alumnae. “Don’t let the news of the day paralyze you as though these are the worst of times,” she said. “They may not be the best of times, but the planet earth has seen it all before and your calm, well-educated engagement is part of what will steer our fate. As old structures crumble, you may have to invent your own jobs, and you will do that by identifying the chasms of need that are created by those societal shifts. You will surprise yourselves.”

A 1973 graduate of Wellesley College and of Harvard Law School, Williams also is a trustee of the college and a recipient of the MacArthur foundation "genius" grant. She is an author of books and articles, and writes a column, “Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” for The Nation. Her newest book is Open House: Of Family, Friends, Food, Piano Lessons, and a Search for a Room of My Own.

This year’s student Commencement speaker, senior Rachel Isaacs of Manalapan, N.J., continues a tradition that began with the first student Commencement speaker, now Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a member of the Wellesley Class of 1969. Her speech extolled what Isaacs called “the virtues of making trouble.”

“Make a stink, stir up a commotion, rouse rabble,” she told her fellow graduates. “This might seem like quite the challenge to some of us because to a certain extent, we all got here because we were the girls who followed the rules, who almost always colored within the lines. Yet, as we are gathered here today to give thanks for all that we have acquired, it is necessary to question how much we are willing to sacrifice, how much trouble we are willing to make, in order to create enduring difference.”

Wellesley College President Diana Chapman Walsh delivered her traditional “Charge to the Class,” noting that this year’s graduates have learned about responsibility through difficult times.

“You arrived full of promise, as entering classes do,” Walsh said. “But before you had time to put down roots, establish reliable friendships, or really even learn your way around the campus, you were dealt the crushing blow of the events of Sept. 11, world-historic events that swept us all up in a swirl of fear and grief and anger and desolation. And we sat together on this very green on the evening of that day. We’ll never forget that moment. It was out of that crucible that your college career was forged, a career marked by more than its share of turmoil and change – here on campus and around the world. The lessons you’ve learned are the essence of a liberal education, an education that makes ethical demands that I hope you will never, ever forget.”

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For more on Commencement 2005, visit Wellesley College Web site at www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Commencement/index.html