Harvey Mudd College conferred bachelor of science degrees upon 164 students at its 51st commencement ceremony in Mudd Quadrangle on Sunday, May 17, 2009.
Inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen (left photo, below) delivered the commencement address and eschewed the traditional commencement advice by saying, "The world doesn't need to be conquered. It needs help.
"We have an opportunity for young people with really good ideas to do really important things," he said. "Financial engineering failed, now we need real engineering. We need to create wealth, not just move it around."
Kamen said he brought a list of the 100 things graduates needed to do to be successful: "Number one, work on something really important. Number two: If you find something really important to work on, stick to it. This part is really hard because most of the important problems that are easily solved have been solved—fire, the wheel, movable type....
"If you pick something really important and it has not been solved, it's because it's hard. Here's the best news of the day: If you pick something important that you're passionate about and you don't give up, the other 98 don't matter.
"You make a living by what you do. You make a life by what you give," he said.
Graduating senior Tahir Yusufaly (left photo, below) delivered the senior keynote address and he reminded the graduates of their obligation and responsibility to use their knowledge to change the world.
"Where do we start?" Yusufaly asked. "I have come up with three basic principles we have all learned at Harvey Mudd and that we can use to make positive change."
He described the value of the first principle, humility, by saying, "If you really stop to think about it, every individual you meet in this world knows something you do not; and you know something they do not."
The second principle was moderation: "I have found that I am happiest and most productive when I don't let myself get absorbed in a bubble of work," he explained. "In order to optimize one's experience and overall impact, it's very important to find balance...by diversifying our everyday activities."
Yusufaly reflected on the third principle of collaboration by saying, "We have all discovered, as cliche as it may sound, that no person is an island. As we go into the world, team work is more important than ever.
"How do we change the world? Humility, moderation, collaboration—HMC."
President Klawe commended the graduates by saying, "I am honored and very fortunate to be president of a college with such incredible students.... Whether you become teachers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists, mathematicians, engineers or scientists (or several of the above), you will understand and pay attention to the impact of your work on society. I am so proud of each of you."
Jonathan Mersel ’75, president of the HMC Alumni Association, welcomed the graduates as newly minted alumni and encouraged them to remain engaged with their alma mater.
Professor of Physics and Chair of the Department of Physics John Townsend was awarded the Henry T. Mudd Prize for service to the college. He will receive a $4,000 award, $2,000 of which is designated for use within the college at his discretion. The citation reads:
A person of integrity, dedication, collegiality, loyalty, and intelligence, who demands teaching excellence of himself; a person who works relentlessly to help each member of his department to become the best teacher he or she can be; a person who has worked tirelessly on the Strategic Vision Curriculum and Strategic Vision Implementation Committees to help shape the educational future of students as an advocate of electivity; a person whose passion for student learning has led him to pioneer new ways to teach some of the most central elements of his discipline; a person whose door is always open to every member of the Harvey Mudd College community; a person who has been a steadfast supporter of the Admissions Office's efforts and whose exemplary service to Harvey Mudd College and selfless commitment to the mission has served the college for over 33 years, over a decade of his service on the Department Chairs Committee; a person who has served with distinction both this college and the greater community of higher education; an individual of extraordinary leadership who is admired and respected by all, John Townsend, Chair of the Physics Department, is hereby designated the 2009 recipient of the Henry T. Mudd Prize.
Townsend could not be present to accept the award because his daughter was graduating from Grinnell the same weekend. "For the first time ever, we presented the prize at the faculty meeting this past Wednesday," Klawe said. "John was speechless."
The ceremony was followed by a reception on the mall on the Harvey Mudd College campus. A full list of the graduates and their honors and awards can be found in the commencement program (PDF).
During the senior lunch, held the day before commencement, several fellowships and HMC awards were presented, along with a musical medley by members of the class. Senior class co-presidents Leah Anderson and Autumn Petros-Good also took the opportunity to thank their classmates who made gifts to the college in honor of those who had an impact on their four years at HMC. The list of donors and who their gifts were in honor of were printed on the back of the event program. According to Ginna Kim 09, "I honored my mom with my gift to HMC this year, and it was really nice that she got to see that during the lunch."