Commencement for Class of 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010


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The Commencement ceremony includes presentation of candidates for graduation, conferring of degrees by the President and the Commencement address. No honorary degrees will be presented.

Olin Holds Fifth Commencement Exercises

Olin College held its fifth Commencement exercises May 16, with 83 graduating seniors participating in the ceremonies and enjoying a nearly perfect spring afternoon. The featured speaker was the honorable Kathleen Stephens, US ambassador to the Republic of Korea and parent of James Whong ’09. Stephens urged the graduates to consider foreign service careers and drew a comparison between engineers and diplomats.

“Although intensely practical, we both share something I’ve seen referred to as a particularly potent form of optimism—the kind of optimism that says we can change the world, not just study it.”

In his welcome, Olin President Richard K. Miller noted the different perspectives Olin graduates bring to their postgraduate lives as a result of their education, and the challenges this would create. “Innovation has never been for the faint of heart,” Miller said.

Jeffrey Moore, representing the class of 2010, took it as his task to explain why the 5th graduating class was just as exciting and special as the ones that came before it. “It fell on our class, as a class, to remind Olin that, although it was no longer new, it should never grow old,” said Moore.

William B. Norden, one of the founding trustees of Olin College, remarked on the pride all members of the Olin community feel at the college’s accomplishments. “Olin College’s place in American higher education after so brief a time far exceeds anything we might have imagined when we broke ground ten years ago,” said Norden.

Associate Professor Robert Martello, representing the faculty and staff, pointed out that Olin students, being accustomed to success, can also learn important life lessons from failure. “As weird as it may seem, all of us are hoping, in the years to come, to hear that you are still failing, because that means you are really living.”

Commencement Speaker

Kathleen Stephens

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea

Upon recommendation of the Commencement Steering Committee and with the consent of the Board of Trustees, President Richard K. Miller invited The Honorable Kathleen Stephens, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, to give the main address at Olin's fifth Commencement on May 16, 2010. 

A United States Foreign Service officer since 1978, Ms. Stephens was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea in 2008.  Her earlier diplomatic assignments included:  consular and public affairs officer in Guangzhou, China (1980-82), chief of the internal political unit in Seoul, Korea (1984-87), principal officer of the U.S. Consulate in Busan, Korea (1987-89), director of European Affairs detailed to the National Security Council (1994-95), U.S. Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1995-98), deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal (1998-2001), and director of the Office of Ecology and Terrestrial Conservation (2001-03).  Ms. Stephens was a political officer assigned to the U.S. mission in Yugoslavia, shuttling between Belgrade and Zagreb, during that country's violent disintegration in the early 1990s.  Later she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, focusing on addressing Kosovo's future status, completing the NATO-led mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and accelerating the integration of the western Balkans in Euro-Atlantic institutions.  From 2005 to 2007, Ambassador Stephens was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Ambassador Stephens knows Olin well -- her son James Whong '09 graduated last May, additionally she served on Olin's Parent Advisory Board from 2006-2008.