Sunday, May 15, 2011
Graduation Wishes from on High
For the second year running, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony featured a nationally prominent keynote speaker that mirrored the university’s increasing national stature. Last year, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair got the call. On Friday, May 13, national political pundit and former advisor to four presidents David Gergen was at the podium welcoming his own generation’s future passing of the leadership baton to the generation that includes the 2011 graduating class.
Exit, Stage North. While few among the Class of 2011 were unenthusiastic about that prospect, they and Mr. Gergen were absolutely wowed by the message from outer space from astronaut Catherine (Cady) Coleman that followed on several supersized screens. Seated in the International Space Station with her hair coursing upwards in zero gravity, Coleman, who holds a Ph.D. in polymer science from UMass Amherst, emphasized the importance of teamwork. After releasing a miniature bobblehead likeness of the university’s mascot—the Minuteman—into weightlessness—she bid adieu to the Class of 2011 with the Serling-inflected message—I look forward to your future! Then she released her own seat restraint and levitating northward, vanished from the frame. View Cady’s extraterrestrial remarks and choreography here: