Grinnell College Commencement 2015 — Full Ceremony

>>Deanna Shorb: Gracious God, we gather on this amazing day to honor these students as
they transition into their next chapter of life. While at Grinnell they have journeyed
together through joyful peaks and shadowed valleys. They have endured, have weathered
a social firestorm and remained a vibrant and engaged community, one that proudly celebrates
diversity and continues to seek ways to support each other and to grow. We are grateful that
as a community our students are wonderfully diverse and remarkably resilient. They are
leaders and dreamers. They have vision and courage. We pray that they continue to flourish and share their gifts where needed in the next
place they call home. We acknowledge with joy and appreciation the family and friends
who have supported these students, those who are here this day in person and those who
are here in spirit. On this morning, we celebrate as we are grateful for supportive mentors
and friends, for faculty who have challenged these students and students who have challenged
these faculty, for staff members who have worked with and helped to guide students during
their time with us. We honor these graduates for their contribution to our campus, community,
and town. For their courage and strength; for their commitment to learning; and for
their perseverance. We begin with a posture of joy, giving thanks
for the privilege to be in each other's presence and to mark and celebrate this milestone.
Amen, please be seated. [pause] >>Phillips: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to present our 2015 commencement
speaker, Bill McKibben. Best selling author, environmentalist activist, and journalist,
Bill brings to us his passion for the environment and his model for fighting to build and preserve
a sustainable planet. His dedication to “thinking globally, acting locally”, his “impassioned
plea for radical and life-renewing change”, and his unceasing activism serve as inspiration
to our graduates. Please welcome Bill McKibben. [applause] >>Bill McKibben: What a pleasure to be here
on this glorious day. It's always good to see the shining faces of the parents and grandparents
and the slightly haggard faces of the graduating class who have apparently decided it was necessary
to spend on last night in the library hard at work. [laughter] It's always fun for a commencement
speaker to relish the temporary but immense power that has been granted to him after eighteen
or so years of education for you all. The last obstacle you face is me. I suppose if
I went on speaking forever … Well, I won't. None of you can remember the first speech
you heard in kindergarten, but likely it had something to do with the theme of playing
nicely together. In a way, that's my message today with the emphasis on together.
This is a day for individual pride, yes, but it's also one of the last days in your life
when you are by necessity, not by choice, part of something larger than yourselves.
I can't hope to know you all as individuals; no one can, but I have some sense of you as
a group. I've spent a lot of time at small liberal arts colleges like this one, which
are the unique glory of American education and of which Grinnell is such an exemplar.
I've spent some time here, too, over the years. The way that a child draws their first picture
of a house with four windows and a chimney, that's their kind of platonic ideal of a house,
my platonic ideal of a college is the image of Grinnell because my aunt and uncle were
the classics department here, or a large part of it, for almost forty years.
I can remember so well watching them as we would come to visit. They were my idea of
what professors were like, and they were great scholars. The family joke was that if my Uncle
Bill was late coming home for dinner, Tim or Andy would be dispatched to the library
to go find him. There he would be standing someplace in the stacks looking for yet another
book. Above all, they were members of a community, of the college community. They took it with
great seriousness. I can remember the nights watching students cram into their house for
readings and study. Grinnell is a great place precisely because
it is a community. In fact, that's the remarkable thing about college. It's the four years in
an average American life when you get to live as most human beings have lived for most of
human history. That is, in close physical and emotional proximity to lots of other people.
It's rare in our society except for college. Sometimes during those four years, it's a
pain when someone is playing the stereo at three in the morning or whatever it is, but
most of the time it is the great joy. When the old grads like me totter back for reunion
and talk about college as the best four years of their life. They are not really, and I'm
sorry to say this faculty, wishing that they could take introduction to sociology once
more; they are remembering what it felt like to be in that community. One of the great
ironies of higher education is that we spend that four years preparing you to earn enough money that you never have to live that way again. You can be as creative as you want to be, and I hope that you will because you emerge
into a world of serious problems that can only be solved by joint action. One hesitates
on a joyful day to talk about problems, but in a sense this is the day that any last training
wheels come off, and it's at a moment when we desperately need you as full-fledged citizens,
so a certain kind of frankness is required. There are always troubles in the world, but
there are two in particular that the generations before you are not only not solving, but making
daily worse and that will affect and shade your lives unless you are able to work to
change them. The first is what we've come to understand
now as the radical inequality in this country and in this world. This year, watching events
in places like Ferguson we got some strong sense that the American experience is not
the same at all for everyone, but that's not just anecdotal. It's backed up by every kind
of statistic you could ask for, and the numbers are painfully stark. Yesterday's newspaper
carried the story that the six heirs to the Walmart fortune together have more money than
47.3% of the entire U.S. population combined. The bottom half of America has less assets
than those six people. Yesterday's paper also carried the news that the 25 most highly paid
hedge fund advisors in the country make more money, those 25 people, than every single
kindergarten teacher in America combined, all 158,000. That gives you some sense of
where our priorities at the moment are lying. A few of those people are redeemed by their
generosity, though on average rich people are less charitable than poor. Even so, this
is not healthy for the society in which we live. Of course, if you look at this globally
all of us hold roughly the same position to much of the rest of the world as those Walmart
heirs hold towards us. You're now equipped, all of you, to try and join that top tier
if you want to. In fact, most of you will end up if not in the stratosphere then in
one or two orbits down. The question is how you will react. By closing in? By choosing
the gated community? Or by reaching out? The second crisis that we face illustrates
why the stakes are even higher than with gilded ages in the past, why reaching out will be
so important. The second crisis is, of course, the physical one. Climate change is the overwhelming
reality of our time. College commencements go back to the 11th century, but until the
last few springs all of those college commencements took place in what scientists call the Holocene.
That period of benign climactic stability that coincided, and not coincidentally, with
the rise of human civilization. Not yours. In you lifetimes, the most important thing
that has happened is that this planet crossed over some invisible boundary from the Holocene
into something else, maybe what scientists now call the Anthropocene, the world made
by man. How is the Anthropocene going? Not very well.
Last week came news from NASA that the Larsen B ice shelf, slightly larger that Rhode Island,
is poised to tip into the ocean in the Antarctic. You've seen the pictures in the last few months
from California enduring a drought unlike any that has been recorded in the past. Of
course, as usual these things are bad where we are, but we have enough money for the moment
to cope with them. In the rest of the world, they're an unmitigated disaster. What Desmond
Tutu, the great Nobel laureate and freedom fighter, called the greatest human rights
challenge of our time. The thing that makes this so tragic is that
it is no longer necessary. The best thing that has happened in your four years in college
is that the price of a solar panel has fallen about 75%. The engineers have done their job
and made it possible for us to imagine a world that runs in a very different way. We can
do this; Denmark, yesterday, generated 115% of the power that it used from the sun and
the wind and shipped the extra off to the rest of Scandinavia. It is possible to do
this, as we can tell, Denmark has no monopoly on wind.
At the moment, it's not happening, this transition, fast enough to matter. It's not happening
because of that same pervasive inequality. The fossil fuel industry is the richest enterprise
that human beings have ever conceived. Those riches have been used to keep us from making
that transition with speed. The richest man on Earth is actually the two
Koch brothers for instance. Oil and gas barons whose net worth taken together out-shadows
anybody else. They have announced that they will spend $900 million of that fortune on
the next presidential election. A lot of it will be spent here in Iowa. They will spend
it to make sure that nothing changes. They'll spend more money than the Republican Committee
or the Democratic National Committee on the next election.
It is hopeless to try to outspend the Exxons and the Shells of the world, so the answer
has to be citizenship: aggressive, engaged, occasionally impolite citizenship. You are
all well-trained now to do something useful from nine to five, or from nine to six or
seven probably in your first job. I'm not worried about that. It's your evenings and
your weekends that we need some of, the time when we do the work of citizenship. Once in
a while, that means voting or electioneering, but usually it means figuring out how to come
together to apply pressure on our systems the other 364 days of the year, because these
are not individual problems. It is a good idea to change your light bulb,
I have solar panels all over the roof of my house, and I drove the first electric-hybrid
car in my state, but I do not try to fool myself that we are solving climate change
in those ways. This is a structural and systemic problem, which means that the answers are
structural and systemic. I am reminded often of a friend of mine, a
guy named Gus Speth, who had perhaps the most golden resume that had ever been. He had founded
the Natural Resources Defense Council, then he went to work as chair of the President's
Council on Environmental Equality, then he headed the United Nations Development Program,
the he was dean at Yale. I got to spend the most time I ever spent with him, about 48
hours, in central cell block in D.C. where the two of us had been arrested at the first
protests against the Keystone Pipeline. At a point in the course of that 48 hours, Gus,
by then in his 70's, looked over at me from the next cell through the bars and said 'you
know, I've held a lot of important positions here in Washington, but none of them seem
as important as the one I'm in right now.' This doesn't mean that all of you need to
go to jail. Nor does it mean that those older among us are exempt from the challenge. In
fact, though young people are leading most of these fights, it probably isn't the greatest
single thing for your resume to have an arrest record right away. For the rest of us, once
you're past a certain age what the hell are they going to do to you? Something, by the
way, goes triple for anyone who happens to have tenure.
You don't all need to go to jail, but you do need to be citizens of all kinds of communities.
Including very shortly, alumni. Citizens of this Grinnell community, where you have been
in residence but will now be in the diaspora but still connected and still connected to
your college. We are very hopeful that Grinnell will come to join this divestment movement
from fossil fuels that has marked Stanford and Syracuse, and last week the University
of Washington, and so many other places. It's beautiful to see as the Rockefeller family,
the first family of fossil fuel, said last September that the most important step that
they could take was to sell off their families' investments in coal, gas, and oil in an effort
to weaken the political power of that industry. You also need to be citizens of the country
and of the planet. You are at a great moment for which to do that. The sudden advent of
the internet seems obvious to you, but to all the rest of us it seems still like something
very new and unusual. The sudden advent allows you to imagine connection in a visceral way
that people before you have not been able to. Don't think that you can change the world
by sending each other e-mail petitions. You can't, but you can take that beautiful connection
and use it to go to work in the real world. All of it only works if you are part of something
larger than yourself. Faced with the kind of crises that we face, the most important
thing that an individual can do is to not always be an individual, to join together
with others. Here's the paradox. In my experience, that
joining together with others leads to the most deep and hopeful pleasures that you will
find. There was a story in the paper last week about a survey of lawyers around the
country, and what they found was that those who were happiest were the ones who were making
the least money: the ones who were working in some kind of public service law. It's all
relative of course; they're lawyers, so they're not starving. Everybody is doing fine, but
the ones who were devoted to something else were finding deep satisfaction.
Your task is not to be poor. Your task is to think about where riches lie, and to see
if perhaps the answer isn't that they lie with others. All of us who are old now, we
are all so grateful for the work, intelligence, good humor, and spirit that has brought you
to this point. We up here, behind you, and among the ranks of your parent and grandparents,
what we know, if we know anything is that all of us are in this together. We are overjoyed
that that us is today so magnificently enlarged. Congratulations. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington. It is my pleasure to present those persons of high accomplishment
and distinction to whom the faculty and trustees of this college wish to accord honorary degrees.
I have the honor to present Bill McKibben for the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. [applause] >>Latham: Bill McKibben is a writer, an environmentalist, and an activist, but perhaps his most remarkable
skill is his ability to see where our society is headed long before the rest of us. He is
the veritable beacon in the night warning us about the dangers that lie ahead if we
fail to pay attention and to take action. McKibben burst onto the scene in 1989 with
The End of Nature, the first book about climate change for a general audience. The book provoked
a nationwide discussion and was reprinted in 20 languages. That book helped launch his
career as an activist fighting climate change. In 1992, McKibben became what may be the country's
first true television binge watcher. As a vast experiment, McKibben recorded a day's
worth of programming from nearly 100 television stations, then watched all 1,700 hours of
it. He compared those hours to a single day spent in nature near his home. The result,
the 1992 book The Age of Missing Information explores what we lose when we spend our time
in front of screens instead of in the world. He continues to use his writing to help us
focus on issues that deserve our attention. His recent books have addressed the shortcomings
of the growth economy, the dangers of genetic engineering, and what it means to live more
lightly on the planet. For his perceptive writing that urges all of us to take action
at the individual and global level, we are pleased to recognize Bill McKibben. [applause] >>Kington: Bill McKibben, on recommendation of the faculty of this college and with approval
of the board of trustees, I admit you to the degree Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa. [applause] What more can I say? It is a great pleasure to get to join your company today
as a graduate of this institution, thank you. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, I have the
honor to present Mary Kathryn Seely for the honorary degree Doctor of Sciences. [pause] WIth a scientist's mind and a humanitarian’s heart, Mary Kathryn Seely
has had a transformative impact on the southern African nation of Namibia. Since she arrived
in Namibia in 1967 as a postdoctoral student, she has moved the field of arid zone ecology
forward with her perceptive research on desert ecology. And she has been instrumental in
helping residents and animals thrive in this harsh desert landscape.
In her scientific work at the University of Namibia, she has published more than 160 papers,
and has co-supervised dozens of master’s and doctoral candidates. In 2013, the Geological
Society of America gave Seely the Farouk el Baz Award for Desert Research, an honor that
recognizes both the vast scope and significance of her research.
Some of her most remarkable work, however, has come in the form of policy. For more than
25 years, she has been a central figure at the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia,
which, among other goals, helps combat the country’s “desertification.” Through
coordinated efforts with government officials, farmers, and nongovernmental organizations,
Seely has helped create strategies and policies to manage critical water and sanitation issues.
Her work has helped unite the interests of these diverse groups to create lasting solutions.
In 2008, the Namibia Nature Foundation named her “Conservationist of the Decade.”
For her diligent efforts to understand and preserve fragile desert environments, we are
pleased to recognize Mary Seely. [applause] >>Kington: On a recommendation of the faculty
of this college and with the approval of the board of trustees, I hereby admit Mary Katherine
Seely to the degree, Doctor of Science honoris causa. [applause] [pause] >>Mary Seely: Good morning, graduates, faculty and guests. First and foremost, let me thank
Grinnell College for the incredible honor being bestowed upon me today. I would particularly
like to thank the many Grinnell faculty and students with whom I've had the pleasure to
learn and work over the past 16 years when we first established Grinnell Corps – Gobabeb.
On behalf of Gobabeb and my Namibian colleagues, let me say how very grateful we are for the
continuing partnership with this college that has been so transformative for Grinnellians
and Namibians alike. My goal today is to reassure all of you and your parents that you are more
than ready for the challenges that await you. I say this based on experiences with 34 Grinnell
students over 16 years, newly graduated like yourselves, that came to Namibia to assist the Gobabeb research and training center in our mission to build an environmentally sustainable future
through education and training of Namibians. These Grinnellians, be they English, chemistry
or history majors, are able to dive in and perform the difficult work we ask them to
do because of the valuable education they have received. Like you, they earned a degree
and so much more. I recently saw the Grinnell College mission statement for the first time
and was amazed to see the qualities of our wonderful Grinnell core fellows rather well-articulated.
I want to remind you that these are the valuable attributes that you have gained over the past
4 years and are now graduating with. In Namibia, I see newly minted Grinnellians
using these abilities daily to facilitate teaching and learning amongst a variety of
Namibians, including elementary school children, resource managers, parliamentarians and foreign
ambassadors and dignitaries, who are there to learn to live sustainably in the driest
country south of the Sahel. It is quite remarkable. In conclusion, the outstanding Grinnellians
that I've had the pleasure to interact with embrace challenges, think on their feet, learn
as they go and are always ready to seize the opportunity that serendipity provides yet
at the same time, the Grinnell experience has taught them firsthand about the value
of taking advantage of the enduring relationships that they have made here on this campus. I'm
here to tell all of you graduates you are all the newest crop of outstanding Grinnellians.
I encourage you to remain open-minded, flexible and ready to take full advantage of what comes
your way, using your wonderful education to make the world a better place today and in
the future. Best of luck to you all. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, I have the
honor to present Penny Bender Sebring, Class of 1964, and Charles Ashby Lewis for the honorary
degree Doctor of Laws. [pause] >>Latham: Penny Bender Sebring and her husband,
Charles Ashby Lewis, both built successful careers. She in educational research at the
University of Chicago. He, in investment banking, at Merrill Lynch. Later, they combined their
expertise to become active philanthropists with a nation-changing vision for professionalizing
teaching. Dr. Sebring has spent her career at the University of Chicago studying urban
education and putting research into practice. She is the co-founder of the University of
Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, a twenty-five year old organization that informs
school improvement efforts in Chicago and beyond.
Mr. Lewis spent nearly thirty-five years at Merrill Lynch. He is also passionate about
improving public schooling for diverse, low-income students, helping among other things, to build
the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute.
The pair's combined expertise led them to a big idea. The key to attracting the best
and brightest to careers in pre-K through twelve teaching and related fields is professionalization, just like in medicine and the law. To that end, the couple has helped to found, and is
funding, three collaborative careers in Education Professions programs at the University of
Chicago, Amherst College and here at Grinnell. These programs help students at these elite
colleges who enter with an interest in public education to validate that interest through
hands-on experience and, if validated, prepare for education careers through internships,
alumni engagement, advising and other guidance. For their strategic and philanthropic efforts
to improve education in America, Grinnell is pleased to honor today Penny Bender Sebring
and Charles Ashby Lewis. [applause] >>Phillips: Penny Bender Sebring and Charles
Ashby Lewis, on the recommendation of the faculty of this college, and with the approval
of the Board of Trustees, I admit you to the Degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. [applause] [pause} >>Penny Bender Sebring: Sorry. We're an unlikely
pair to be standing here today. A long-time educational researcher and a veteran investment
banker. First-generation college goers whose worlds were enlarged by our liberal arts education.
I didn't know my biological father. My adopted father had an eighth-grade education. My mother
was a Rosie the riveter during World War II and didn't finish college. I arrived here
freshman year by train from Denver never having seen the campus before. My bags were packed
with some clothes that I had made. I don't make them anymore. I came to Grinnell on a
recommendation of a friend from my church. It turned out to be perfect for me. >>Charles Ashby Lewis: It feels good to have this hood on. This is a little warmer. Actually,
one of the last times we were here was 2008 for the caucuses. It was about this temperature
in January of 2008. I grew up near Albany, New York just ninety miles west of Amherst
College, but I'd never heard of the place until senior year. I was recruited to play
football there. Yes, I know the football part is hard to believe. [mic noise] >>Sebring: Grinnell opened my eyes to possibility. First, I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Then
a social studies teacher. Next I earned my doctorate from Northwestern University and
finally co-founded the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Chuck
never fails to remind me what a mouthful that name is. >>Lewis: The long and the short of it here. With that quintessential pioneer background,
Penny was skeptical, to say the least, about dating an investment banker assuming I couldn't
possibly share her values. It's worked out okay. Probably in part because we share a
deep faith in the transformative power of education. Over the years, I've read a lot
of research about the critical role that good teachers play in public schools, like the
ones that we attended. Realizing the need to professionalize teaching in the central
interplay of status and talent, in doing so, we seized on the opportunity to start the
Careers in Education Professions program. Yeah! All right! Go ed pros! As you heard
earlier, both here at Grinnell and at Amherst and U Chicago, where it's no coincidence that
we are proud trustees of those three great colleges. >>Sebring: We believe that public school teaching will become a much more viable career when
relatively more graduates from top colleges like this one make it a career. We are grateful
to President Kington, to Professor Ketter, to Program Director Shaefer, to Dean Peltz,
and many others for helping to make the Education Professions program a reality here. We appreciate
our friend, George Drake, President Emeritus of the college. Not only was he a marvelous
teacher, he and Sue were Peace Corps volunteers and their son is a dedicated public school
teacher. We also applaud you here at Grinnell, for your leadership in making it possible
for more first-generation students, like the two of us, to attend an elite college like
this. We are humbled to be honored today. Thank you. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, I have the
honor of presenting Kit Abel Hawkins for the honorary degree, Doctor of Social Studies. [applause] >>Latham: Kit Abel Hawkins is a teacher who has always seen the enormous potential in
her students. But even more important, she is a teacher who is able to help students
tap into that vast potential themselves. Hawkins is the founder and director of the Arbor School
of Arts and Sciences, a Portland area school that teaches students from kindergarten through
8th grade. The school has a deep focus on developing students' intellect, character,
and creativity. Hawkins both demands and expects excellence from her students, while always
providing the support they need to achieve at the highest levels.
She is particularly skilled at connecting students with the work they were meant to
do. With an uncanny ability to see the connections between her students' skills and passions,
she helps students find projects that they throw their heart into for a semester, a year,
or even the rest of their lives. Such was the case for a Grinnell student, Rebecca Garner,
who credits Hawkins for encouraging her to pursue her love of both art and science through
projects that focused on graphite drawings and Mendelian genetics. Garner credits this
early work to her decision as a Grinnell student to double major in both visual art and biology,
majors that she says contains surprising and beautiful connections.
We are pleased to recognize Kit Abel Hawkins for her lifelong commitment to bringing out
the best in her students. [applause] >>Kington: Kit Abel Hawkins, on a recommendation
of the faculty of this college and with the approval of the board of trustees, I admit you to the degree, Doctor of Social Studies, honoris causa. [applause [pause] >>Kit Abel Hawkins: What a deeply moving form of recognition has been conferred on me today.
I extend my profound thanks to President Kington and Dean Latham, Professor Marzluff and the
honorary degree committee for the privilege of joining the procession of educators on
whose work Grinnell has chosen to shine a light. It's an honor to address the Grinnell
class of 2015, and to offer you the gift of a poem, "The Way It Is," by William Stafford,
poet laureate of Oregon. "There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change."
I hope a thread has become palpable to you in your years at Grinnell. By the time your
remarkable classmate, Rebecca Garner, was in the 8th grade at the school I founded a
quarter-century ago, Becca had begun to recognize that she had a thread she was following, one
that spun together filaments of art and tendrils of biology. At that time, she formulated a
senior project, for that is what we call the year-long work each 8th grader undertakes
at Arbor, in which superb drawings of her rabbits, accompanied a precocious research
paper on the genetic markers of the baby rabbit her breeding program produced. She has followed
her thread, continuing to distinguish herself as an artist and a scholar here at Grinnell.
Stafford goes on: "People wonder what you are pursuing.
You have to explain the thread. But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it, you can't get lost." Following your thread means that you know
what you are made for, what your métier is. What it is you have to offer up to a world
whose broken parts must constantly come under repair through the agency of those who care.
I was fortunate; I felt a thread in my hands when I was young. I went off to Oberlin College
with the thread securely gripped in my hands, determined to develop the intellectual background
I needed to teach ambitiously and, ultimately, to build and lead a school. May your collegiate
experience prove as generative and lastingly important as has mine.
Holding onto the thread means not getting lost, and it also means finding joy, finding
joy in work that suits you and that makes a difference. There are obligations that are
entailed by your calling, whatever it is, and those obligations will exact their toll.
Yet, the deep well of quiet joy that arises from following your thread is sustaining. "Tragedies happen;" Stafford continues, "people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you can do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't let go of the thread." Yes, I am getting older but I haven't let
go of the thread. Truth to tell, I still never tire of helping a student navigate the maze
of long division or of guiding a reading group through a great piece of literature or of
supporting an 8th grader as she crafts a senior project that displays her promise. I continue
to be restless in pursuing new ideas for Arbor to improve its capacity to inspire learners.
And since Rebecca was with us, I created a new arm of the school devoted to attracting
engaged and broadly educated people like you to the world of teaching. Three cheers for
what Peggy and Chuck are doing. And, for those of you who are doing it with them, I laud
you all. There are consolations to growing old. The
thread only grows stronger, more resilient, and more vibrant. Here with you today are
your beloved families and this esteemed faculty, those who have nurtured you, chided you, encouraged
you, worried for you, cheered and comforted you as you worked to reach this point, the
point at which knowing what you are good at will help you know what you are good for.
May your threads shine. Thank you. [applause] >>Kington: It is now my privilege as President to recognize
members of the faculty who after long and devoted tenure at the college are entering
upon Emeritus status. I now ask Kent Allen McClellan, Professor of Sociology, to please
rise. For more than thirty years, you have championed the quantitative and technological
literacy of Grinnell students in the social sciences. Yourself, an early adopter, you
have continually led your students and colleagues to effectively use technology in the classroom
and research methods and in statistical analysis. Your courses over three decades have represented
many sub disciplines of sociology and crossed interdisciplinary lines and team teaching.
A strong supporter of the peace and conflicts studies program, you were one of the first
to teach courses on conflict resolution and management and you have served as a member
of the college's steering committee since that inception. Your mission too has always
been to make Grinnell students critical thinkers and effective writers. Whether working one
on one with hundreds of students in your courses or assisting faculty colleagues via the writing
program, you have set exceptionally high standards for strengthening and assessing the written
word. Your research on perceptional control theory itself crosses disciplines, yet you
have established yourself among scholars of this theory, recently publishing in the leading
journal of your discipline and continuing to work on a collection that will be used
by researchers in diverse fields. In the local community, you have offered your
expertise to direct an extensive lists of campus and community surveys, providing statistical
and mathological support as a volunteer. Throughout these dedicated activities, you have served
more than half of your career here as Chair of the Department of Sociology which has grown
significantly in numbers of majors and diversity of faculty representation. For your steadfast
commitment to the pursuit of excellence in the Liberal Arts, we honor you today as Professor
Emeritus of Sociology. [applause] I now ask Edward A. Phillips, Jr., Professor
of Classics, to please rise. Your discipline dates to the earliest academic institutions
and throughout your forty year career at Grinnell, you have remained true to and instructed countless
others in the traditions of Liberal Arts education. Your teaching has included not only the classical
languages of Greek and Latin, but also the rich history, literature, art, archaeology,
mythology and philosophy of ancient worlds. When you arrived at Grinnell, you expanded
long tenured deeply held tradition by developing new courses.
You also oversaw a break from tradition when, during your tenure as department chair, East Asian languages were introduced to the curriculum through the Department of Classics. Your research
on the works of Humanis and Latin Scholar, Erasmus led to a 2009 translated volume in
the collective works of Erasmus, published by the University of Toronto. That volume
has also led to your review of a succeeding volume in Greek. Your decades of campus service
and commitment chronicle timely changes in the college's curriculum, faculty organization
structure and campus wide planning. Many times you represented the faculty on
administrative task forces, review and selection committees. Since arriving in 1975, you have
lent a strong voice to the college and community chorus, now appropriately known as the Grinnell
Oratorio Society. You also served and led the Board's of the Mid Iowa Community Action,
Community Daycare and Grinnell area Arts Council as well as local church volunteer leadership.
Today, you led us to this ceremony in your role as College Marshal and over the years,
you have served in leadership roles in Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Chapter of Iowa. For your
dedication and service to the tradition of Liberal Arts education, we honor you today
as Professor Emeritus of Classics. [applause] I now ask professors Alan Shrift, Janice
Seiz, Eliza Willis, and Irene Powell to stand. [applause] It is my honor to recognize these faculty
members moving to Senior Faculty status or taking early retirement. Senior Faculty status
recognizes those members of the faculty who wish to be released from their regular full
time teaching obligations to pursue scholarly and professional activities associated with
the college. Thank you, you may be seated. [applause] I would also like to take this time to recognize
Henry Walker for his long standing tenure as Assistant Marshal. This year is Henry's
thirty-fifth and last year being the Assistant Marshal since 1977. We appreciate his many
years of service helping our graduates cross the stage literally. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, and ladies and gentlemen, the Dean of the College will
now present the candidates for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts. [cheering and laughter] >>Latham: Will the candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree please rise. [more laughter and cheers] President Kington,
on the recommendation of the faculty of Grinnell College, I present to you these candidates
for the degree Bachelor of Arts. Having fulfilled all the academic requirements, they are deemed
worthy of and entitled to this degree. >>Kington: As President of Grinnell College,
I now recommend to the Board of Trustees through you as one of its members that each
of these students be graduated to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. [applause] Little bit more. >>Todd Linden: President Kington, the charter of this fine institution is to promote the
general interest of education and to qualify young people for the different professions
for the honorable discharge of the various duties of life. It is a pleasure for me to
acknowledge that these students have not only completed a course of formal study at this
institution, but have also come to know the demands and rewards of a shared experience
in learning. As such, they have indeed furthered the general interest of education and qualified
themselves for the honorable discharge of the various duties of life.
The Board of Trustees is therefore pleased to accept your recommendation and authorizes
you as President to grant this degree. In doing so, we also want to acknowledge the
outstanding work the faculty and the staff and appreciate their contributions to these
students. [applause] >>Kington: It's not over until I say it's
over. [laughter] By the authority vested in me by the Trustees of Grinnell College, I now officially
declare that having met all the requirements, you are today granted the degree of Bachelor
of Arts and are admitted to all the rights, privileges and responsibility that it confers.
Congratulations, you may be seated. [cheering and applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, Professor Tyler Roberts will call the graduates in the Division of Humanities. >>Roberts: Will the graduates to the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Division of Humanities
please come to the platform as instructed by the Marshal? [applause] [long pause] Mary Alice Adams Fabiola Maria Barral Quinnita Olivia Bellows Jonathan Beltrán-Álvarez in absentia Hannah Ruth Bernard Jazmine Renee Bjelland Marshall William Botto Sinéad Clare Brady Rebecca Joan Brockenborough Athena M. Carlson Rebecca Emily Carpenter Fatima Cervantes Benjamin Charney Cristal Shavaun Coleman Colter Alden Combs Douglas Gregory Dale Chantelle Alexis-Lee Dallas Dani M. DeSantes Natalie Taylor Dokken Devin Thomas Doyle Leila May Mohamed Elshamy Sarah Jane Farbman
Amy Marisela Flores Amy Marisela Flores Thomas Joseph Foley, Jr. Silvia Elena Foster-Frau Caroline Grace Froh John Angus-Chipman Fulgoni Jessica Ruth Gallegos Rebecca Gayle Garner Tess J. Given Geovanni Gomez Thomas Dale Grabinski Kendall Marie Grannis Eleanor Miranda Griggs Stephen John Gruber-Miller Samuel Browning Hildebrandt Nicholas Thomson Hunter Linnea Elizabeth Hurst Iulia Iordache Eleni Christine Irrera Vernon Lee Jackson, Jr. Nathan Junho Kim Andrea Jean Lakiotis Jordan Henry Manker Eden Elizabeth Marek Timothy John McCall Ursula Evelyn McDaid Leah Anne Meyer Jordan Gene Meyers Richard John Montalvo Emma Katherine Morrissey Alicia Marie Mulholland Varun Nayar Linda Christina Omaña Martha Shirley McMullen Orlet Anastassia Ovtcharova Magdalena Rose Parkhurst August James Peterson in absentia Hannah Leigh Rico Quicksell Samantha Anne Rosen Violeta Cristina Ruiz Espigares >>Unknown: You missed some people. >>Roberts: I think the wind took away a page [background chatter, then "Go 2015!" and cheers] Sara Beth Ramey Mollie Johanna Read Rebecca
Nicole Rea-Holloway Jacqueline Ann Reynders Maria Catherine Richardson Charis Elizabeth Russell Daniel George Ryerson Ian James Saderholm Jacob Gabriel Salzman Carl Robert Sessions Alex Michael Sharfman Sarah Elizabeth Underwood Sherrell Maria Shevelkina Dana Brittany Sly Audrey Ryan Smith Sarah Elizabeth Smorodin Sarber Emily Ferro Sortor Jazmyn Kashea Taylor Nathaniel Walter Tingley Emily Sue Tomac Emma Evans Vale Veronica Shayne Maranan Vergara Metea Gabrielle Voyce Carly Hannah Wakshlag Isaac Cannon Walker Adriana Marie Walsh Benjamin David Warner Benjamin Charles Weideman Sarah Rose Weitekamp Yang Charlotte West Cella Caley Westray Charles Gilmer Wilhelm Xiaorong Yin in absentia Yixin Zhang Mary Zheng Roberts: President Kington, these are the
graduates from the Division of Humanities. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, Professor Richard Fyffe will call the graduates in The Division
of Science. >>Richard Fyffe: Will the graduates to the
Bachelor of Arts degree from the Division of Science please come to the platform as
instructed by the Marshal? Zachary Lawrence Angel Mohamed Imad Bakhira Hellen Massiel Barroso Joyce L. Bartlett Nipun Sandeep Basrur Alison Ariel Bayly Joyanne Lakhila Becker Andrew Micah Johnson Bostrom Zev Braun Jeremy Milton Bulman Alexandra Elizabeth Byrne Keaton Thomassen Cameron- Burr Isaac Wadria Chadri Linnea Taylor Champ Kevin Lee Charette Miriam Guy Clayton Nicholas Ryan Corbin Cohen Hannah Jun Cohn Daniel Mark Connelly Marissa Antoinette Cotterell Conor Michael Cunningham Elliott Joseph Czarnecki Kristen Carr Dabney Taylor Joseph Dabney Rockne Jules DeCoster Clayton Patrick DesJardin Kenzie Marcella Doyle Benyamin Floh Elias "Karinna" Alane Escalante >>Karina Escalante: Karina, Karina [correcting pronouciation] But thank you. >>Fyffe: Karina William D. Ewing III Jessica Shannon Flannery Nathalie Simasing Ford Jennifer Lynn Fulton Lee Walker Gatchell William Gallagher Gaub Theodore William Geiger Olivia Gellerson Nathaniel Hugh George John Thomas Gernon Elizabeth Dietterich Gillig Jakob Gnirke Elsa Laederach Goldman William Robert Gottlieb Christopher Michael Harwood Graves Alexis Lauren Greenwell, virtually from Denver Evan Fitzgerald Griffith Roman Vasilievich Grigorii Edward Thomas Guen-Murray Pierce Jacob Gustafson Hayley Aurora Hajic SunHo Han Mackenzie Lee Higgins Emily Claire Hilton Eugenia Ann Dabney Hofammann Patrick S. Hooke Chenheli Hua Brittany Lynn Hubler Alexis Renee Hudson Ashlee M. Hulbert Terrell Derrick James Sarah Elizabeth Jensen Henna Mukesh Jobanputra [inaudible discussion about a missing name] [audience chanting "2015, 2015" in unison" Daniela Jaime Garcia >>Fyffe:Terrell Derrick James [inaudible] OK Tess Hanna Johnson Kathryn Elizabeth Kain Meredith Emilie Kalkbrenner Yuki Kawahara Catherine Elizabeth Klesner Forrest James Knapp Aarti Kolluri Michael Lee Korte Collin Clark Kramer Kayleigh Morgan Kresse Erica Richstone Kwiatkowski Connie PS Lee Daniel Sung Koo Lee Spencer Bernard Liberto Jason Liu Dongye Lu Harry Bruce Maher Riley Caitlin Mangan Devon Marie Manley Edith Chanhee March Aaron Alexander Mardis Lea Marolt Sonnenschein Talora Louise Martin Jacob Edward Meixler Lingyao Meng Emily Victoria Mesev Joseph Elliot Meyer Petar Miljkovic Matthew James Miller Breanna Elaine Mills Austin Matthew McKenzie Morris Elizabeth McAden Morse Daniel Isaac Munger Nata Nakaidze Chen Cornelia Elspeth Osborne Santiago Alberto Paredes Martinez in absentia Sara Yasmine Pasha Haley Illyse Pawlow in absentia Alec Wilson Peck Christi Alexandra Peterson Steven John Petritis Danielle Anne Phillips Jolyne Marie Piet Samantha Lynne Pilicer Ellen Alexandra Pinnette Alexandra Elizabeth Plemmons Laurie Brill Polisky Andrea Marie Quinn Meera Elliott Ramamoorthy Ethan Ratliff-Crain Richard Garrett Renteria Daniel Sean Reynolds Michael Jay Riegsecker Emmanuel Sandoval Ruiz Ankita Sarawagi Julia Maxine Sauerhaft Rebecca Nicole Scherrer Katherine Nicole Schlasner Elena Lee Seeley Diana Marie Seer
Carrie Ann Sibbald Carrie Ann Sibbald Keith James Siegel in absentia >>Siegel: In person, in person. >>Fyffe: Alright >>Kington: He's here. >>Fyffe: Good Elian Dorya Silverman Joanna Isabel Magalhaes Silverman Patrick Lee Slough Hailey Simone Speck Caleb Scheffer Sponheim The Andrew W. Archibald Prize for highest scholarship is awarded at each Commencement
to that student or students who have obtained the best record of academic achievement over
the four-year period of collegiate work. Established in 1927, the award is named for its donor
the Reverend Andrew W. Archibald who served as a distinguished member of the college’s
board of trustees. It is my pleasure to present the Archibald Prize medalist for 2015, James
Francis St. Germaine-Fuller. [ongoing applause] Emily Rebecca Stuchiner Morgan Ann Sullivan Jack Edward Taylor Jr. Dan Wai Teng Julianne Alexandra Toia Daniel Maximino Torres Janice My Trang Patrick Nelson Triest Michelle Tsai Salena Annette Tucker Emily Lynn Twedell Isaiah Jonas Tyree Lorena Ulloa Rachel Cameron Van Court Justin Joseph Vaverka Joshua Vernazza Zachary Paul Villa Claudia Isabel Viquez Rojas Evangelos Vlachos Ross Alan Voelker Allison Mary Walker Shanice Stacy-Ann Webster Claire Louise Weidman Anthony John Wenndt Summer Lavon Wilke June Oriana Yolcuepa Lifeng Yuan Tague Maclean Bransby Zachary Yu Zhang Yi Bin Zheng Fanchao Zhu Chong Zuo >>Fyffe: President Kington, these are the
graduates from the Division of Science. [ongoing applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, Professor Karla Erickson will call the graduates in the Division
of Social Studies. >>Karla Erickson: Will the graduates to the
Bachelor of Arts degree from the Division of Social Studies please come to the platform
as instructed by the Marshal? Ervens Achille in absentia Julie Aguilar Willa Kosek Akey Peter Christian Aldrich Douglas David Anderson Michael Thomas Annerino Yan Nyein Aung Sonia Elizabeth Marie Barrad Dylan Robert Bartuch Kimberly Batrezchavez Peter William Bautz Alyssa Ann Bean Walker Reeves Bell M’tep K’onni Blount Bonnie Lynne Brooks Jacqueline Gennell Brooks Jennifer Dennison Brooks [ongoing applause] [applause continues] Daria Staffa Brosius Joseph Brown Shaquall Lashay Brown Irene Victoria Bruce Hannah Leigh Burt Andres Cambronero Jong Il Chyun in absentia Oh. Present. Sorry. We're glad he's here. Congratulations! Bethany Lynn Clarke Glenna Colerider-Krugh Sarah Elizabeth Corapi Austin Michael Cote Ryan Sou Courtney Rosalie Nelly Curtin Uzma Daraman Collin Scott Davis-Johnson Marc Christopher DeCoste Jade Alyce Denson Benjamin Spencer Doehr James Clifton Dowell Natalie Marie Skran Duncombe Jennifer Lane Dysart Tolulope Amenze Edionwe Farida Abdelmawgoud El Habashy Emma Frances Falley Clark Eugene Fancher Elaine Li Fang Kathryn Anne Dudash Fenster Roni Ida Finkelstein Allison Elizabeth Fischer Nathaniel Anthony Forman Johanna Sabine Foster Lindsay Sumiko Fujimoto Izak John Gallini-Matyas Hayes Moorman Gardner Shannon Gatewood Emilio Ramon Gomez Abby Elizabeth Goreham Mohammad Zuhad Akhtar Hai Jordan Noelle Hale Georgina Haro Ryan Christopher Hautzinger Alyse Hunt Gwendolyn Ihrie Brian Michael Jesteadt Jillian Sandra Johnson in absentia David Jutrša Kimberlyn Michelle Kasperitis Joseph Arthur Kathan Ezra Sagan Katz Thorsten Kern More to come. Emma Elainah Knatterud- Johnson Karima Abdi Mohamed Kusow Aaron Newman Lapkin Nathan Joel Register LeBlanc Christopher Hyunjin Lee Sangwoo Lee Sean Kiwon Lee Diane Elizabeth Adair Lenertz Chengzhang Liu Mouchen Liu Shirlene Sei-Yune Luk Courtney Jennifer Martin Lucy Cotton McGowan The President’s Medal is awarded annually at each Commencement to the senior who exemplifies
an ideal Grinnell student: superior scholarship, demonstrated leadership that credits both
the student and the College, compassionate and sensitive behavior, and individual responsibility
are among the qualities that must be demonstrated. It is my pleasure to present the President’s
Medal for 2015 to Austin McKenney. [ongoing applause] Aaron E. M. Mendelson John Patrick Mertes Uriel Milian Eloise Prudence Miller Maxwell Robert Mindock Surekha Nandi Naidoo Kirsten Marissa Nelson Chi Thuy Nguyen Christian Peter Vognar Noyce Samuel Myers Offenberg in absentia Tracy Pa Florian Philip Perret Lochard Philozin Katherine Jarmila Quinn Rebecca Susan Richman Mia Scott Ritter Adrian Rodriguez Luis-Enrique Romero Emmett Charles Ruff Ian Joshua-Totten Sales Rebecca Anne Salter Elizabeth Jane Sawka Jordan MacKenzie Schellinger Liam Thomas Shaughnessy Doo Yong Shim Louisa Suits Silverman Alexa Gabrielle Stevens Devan Xavier Eiynck Steward Robert William Storrick Kaelin Arleigh Swift Yohei Takatsuka Anne Merissa Tan in absentia David Antony Ternes Matthew Louis Terry Julianne Thompson Samuel Ronald Turner Aamir Asad Walton Jacob Matthew Washington Joseph Michael Wlos Christopher Thomas Meeske Woodington Anqi Xu Luke Michael Yeager Jing Zhao >>Erickson: President Kington, these are the graduates from the Division of Social Studies. [applause] >>Phillips: President Kington, Dean Michael
Latham will call the graduates to the Bachelor of Arts degree with Independent and Interdivisional
Majors. >>Latham: Will the graduates to the Bachelor
of Arts degree with Independent and Interdivisional majors please come to the platform as instructed
by the Marshal? Alex Anderson Opeyemi Grace Awe Lilianna Irene Bagnoli Dianna Marie Banker Briona Butler Anne Chase Damtoft Maisie Sarah Dolan Lukas S Hasegawa Eng Devon Browning Gamble Tawny Marie Gilley Amulya Gyawali Luis Ignacio Hernandez Aaron Juarez Abigail Susan Lowe Samantha Masako Mizuno Laura Renee Nadolski Scott Andrew Olson Margaret Sophia Schmitt Liesl Marie Schnabel Tefiro Kituuka Serunjogi Emma Dorothy Sinai-Yunker Youngbin Song Jordan Rae Taitel Parker Ferrari Van Nostrand Benjamin Eric Vaughn, Jr. [applause and audience singing "happy birthday to Eric"] >>Latham: President Kington, these are the graduates with Independent and Interdivisional
Majors. [pause] >>Latham: President Kington, I wish at this time to recognize the members of the Class
of 2015 who have been accepted into the Ninth Semester Program leading to Iowa Teaching
Certification. Would these students please stand as I call their names and remain standing
until I have completed the list? Jazmine Renee Bjelland Bethany Lynn Clarke Brian Michael Jesteadt Lucy Cotton McGowan Parker Ferrari Van Nostrand Please be seated. >>Phillips: Will the graduates to the degree
of bachelor of arts please rise. >>Kington: Greetings to graduates, parents,
families and friends, our guest speaker Bill McKibben, the honorees, and the platform party,
trustees, faculty and staff, alumni, members of the Grinnell Community. I also want to
recognize one of our past honorary degree recipients, Henry Wilhelm, Class of ’68,
whose son Charlie is a 2015 graduate. Today is Grinnell's 169th commencement ceremony.
A good year. [laughter] I want to recognize you, your special day, so I'll keep my remarks brief. I also want to recognize all the effort that went into each of you to get here. We need
to mark this momentous day and the end of this ceremony. Graduates, probably your last
time here in this transition role, and in your new role as alumni of the college. Typically,
presidential commencement addresses go on one of a few different ways. One, we look
back to the past and anoint our graduates as the standard bearers of timeless values,
or we look ahead to the future and reassure them that they're well prepared to face it,
or if the mood strikes us, we warn them that they're not. The world is going to the dogs,
so stand up straight and eat your vegetables. In any case, such speeches are like the letters
that outgoing US presidents supposedly leave in the Oval Office desk for their successors.
Here's the job you've inherited, they say. Here are a few suggestions on how to do it.
Good luck, pass it on. My challenge in saying a few words today is
I'm not sure what type of world we're leaving you. If you read the speeches of my 19th and
20th century predecessors, you can't help but be impressed with their confidence in
the future. They didn't expect sameness, but they expected definitely continuity. As my
predecessor, President John Main said in his 1906 inaugural address, "We're gathering the
fruits today of the seeds that were planted 60 years ago. It is a rich harvest, and only
beginning. A richer harvest is yet to come." Such optimism.
The oncoming 20th century brought many radical and often disruptive changes. Some scholars
even refer to the end of history. Today, we talk much more about change than about continuity.
I've certainly talked about change almost constantly since I came to Grinnell. What
impact might all of this change have on aspects that maybe shouldn't be changed so quickly,
like some values? The 20th century was an era of big institutions, public schools, post
offices, banks, government agencies. Our lives have changed radically, while institutions
are naturally slow to evolve. Consider these questions. Why do we still have chains of
national post offices, when so much of our communication happens by email, and text,
and phone? Why do we maintain banks with tellers when such a large share of our financial transactions
happens online? Why do we still believe in national governments, when hundreds of millions
of people ebb and flow across global borders every year?
Let me be clear. I'm not an opponent of big government, and big institutions or of banks
or post offices. I've worked in big institutions, and while I've seen their inefficiencies,
I've also seen their potential for good. There's no avoiding it. The world is changing faster
than it seems our social and political structures can keep up.
Why does this matter on your graduation day? Because over the course of many generations,
we have come to rely on institutions to uphold and defend our values. Big programs like social
security, and public education, and public health, were not just full employment schemes
for bureaucrats. They were mechanisms that enabled us to attend to our shared needs and
to care for our fellow citizens. In so many ways, we want institutions to help us.
If the world has changed so radically, those institutions are no longer well suited to
our way of life, then what? I don't know. This brings us back to my main point. No one
here today, not me, not you, not your parents or grandparents or teachers, knows what type
of world you're inheriting. Even if we could describe it, it would become different quickly.
You're going to have to function in this fluid environment long after the rest of us are
gone. As I considered what kind of note to leave in your desk drawer, here goes a few
suggestions. It's not clear to me which aspects of our
way of life will endure, and which will change. Your lives will be characterized much more
by change than by continuity. You have to use all the initiative at your disposal, perhaps
much more than previous generations did, to find your way, and to help others find theirs.
You may not be able to count on institutions to help you. Instead, it may be up to you
to revitalize institutions, or when they are beyond repair, to build new and better ones.
We may already be living beyond the end of history, and if so, we may be beyond the end
of traditional commencement addresses as well. Fortunately, our professors and staff members
are very far sighted. They've been leaving their own surprises in your mental desk drawers
for four years now. They gave you analytical and communication skills. They taught you
how to listen and critique and question your assumptions. They encouraged you to enjoy
creativity for its own sake, as well as to exercise it for its practical value.
They showed you that when used properly, technology isn't just a toy, but can be a powerful tool.
They urged you to reach across difference toward understanding. They offered you chances
to experience and practice leadership. Whether you are a physics major, or a visual or performing
artist, or maybe both, your teachers imparted these gifts to you among others. You'll need
to build a new world. Use these gifts well. To guide your work, I urge you to remember
the college's motto, Veritas et Humanitas: "Truth, and humility [sic]." Being Grinnellians
requires humbling yourselves before the truth. That is the charge that I bestow upon you
today, and which it is also now your duty to take up amidst great change and uncertainty.
I look forward to watching you do so. I leave you, every one of you, with my warmest wishes
and my greatest hopes. May you continue to flourish, bringing with you on your journey,
visions of excellence, action, and the possibility of a greater future. Good luck. [applause] >>Shorb: At the close of this ceremony, we pray for wisdom and hope for these graduates
as they journey forward. Grant them strength as they grow and change and lead in their
communities throughout our world. As they make choices about service and leadership,
and what is most important to them in their ways of being and making meaning. May they
be influenced by their Grinnell experience, seeking to serve others and working for the
common good in this global community. We look to the future with great expectations of each
graduate. May they fondly remember their Grinnell years, and return often to their college home.
Peace be upon each of us, oh God, on this day and always. Amen. [processional music begins, then cheers]

1 thought on “Grinnell College Commencement 2015 — Full Ceremony

  1. Congratulations, Class of 2015!  Thank you, Grinnell College!

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