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Five Receive Honorary Degrees And Address Clarkson University Graduates

Nearly 600 students from 29 states, 21 countries and 57 of New York's counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University's Commencement today (May 13). (One hundred sixty-five more students received degrees at an earlier ceremony in December.) Close to 4,000 parents, relatives and friends attended the ceremony. The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of United States Army and Air Force officers on Saturday, May 12.

Receiving honorary degrees and making short speeches were Watertown Daily Times Editor and Co-publisher John B. Johnson Jr.; Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation; New York State Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye; retired Xerox Corporation Senior Vice President Alan R. Monahan; and retired Dresser Rand Division President John S. Welch Jr.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Stefan J. Grimberg of Potsdam was awarded the John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award. This $1,500 research account is presented to "a faculty member who has shown promise in engineering, management, liberal studies, or scientific research."

Senior Leona Karnali of Jakarta, Indonesia, was given the Levinus Clarkson Award, and senior Jennifer Caufield of Pulaski, N.Y., was given the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes, awarded by vote of the full faculty to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement."

My observation and advice to students these days is that you have a problem to reconcile. Never, ever, ever before in the world has there been such opportunity, due to technology in particular, to create and enjoy wealth. And that allows for a problem that other generations didn't have, which is a huge disparity between the haves and the have-nots - those that have access to and understand technology, and those that don't.||||

[We] have been given such an extraordinary advantage… We owe a substantial amount of our time and our effort to doing things that give back.

Judge Judith Kaye said, in part, "… perhaps my most crushing disappointment came at [my college] graduation. I was unable, utterly unable, to get a job in the career that I saw as my destiny: journalism… I still think of myself and describe myself as a failed journalist. But the truth is, it isn't half bad having had to settle for being Chief Judge of the State of New York instead of a media mogul. In fact, I have two titles. I am the Chief Judge of the State of New York and I am the Chief Judge of New York State's highest court. I love both of my jobs. I am convinced that I hold the two greatest jobs on earth.

John B. Johnson Jr. said, in part, "I am especially honored to accept this degree, because it … affirms my strongly held belief that no professional responsibility can be used as an excuse to avoid striving to make the community which nurtures you a better place to live. Newspaper editors sometimes hide behind a façade of editorial independence to plead that public service can compromise their news judgement. That is an ill-conceived notion. Public service helps the community, and who better to look out for the problems which challenge us all than a newspaper editor… A successful hometown needs community activists who advocate change, seek better solutions, provide opportunity for those in our midst who have the least chance to make a difference.

Become an advocate for civic improvement; do not rely on others to develop the answers, because you won't like the results.

Alan Monahan said, in part, "My one piece of advice is summarized in the Japanese word Kaisan. It means 'continuous change for the better.' Some people call it 'continuous improvement.' Whatever you call it, it's critical to your future success. It's based on the belief that no matter how good you are today, we must be better tomorrow. Competition in all walks of life is an ever-present reality. And change-unprecedented change-is a way of contemporary life. None of us can ignore these twin forces of competition and change. To survive them and thrive on them, all of our graduates today must leave Clarkson committed to continuous improvement…

Think of your degree not as an end, but a beginning. As educated women and men, you have a wonderful gift. You have learned how to learn. You have been given a historical perspective, which will make change more comfortable. You have earned a degree, which will open new doors to new worlds and wonderful opportunities. Use it wisely-for your own benefit and the benefit of others.

Do some important work every day… There's a lot of work that is easy… But there's other work that is more difficult, that commands all of your mental powers, sometimes even your physical powers. That is what I call the important work. That work can be exhausting. That's the work that advances society and advances the enterprise you are associated with.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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