HMC Honors Grads at 49th Commencement

May 17, 2007 - Claremont, Calif. - Harvey Mudd College’s 49th annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 13, marked the conclusion of the academic year with the awarding of bachelor of science degrees to 161 graduates, one honorary doctoral degree and the Henry T. Mudd Prize for service to the college.

Commencement speaker Mae C. Jemison (photo at right) was the first woman and only the 11th person in the 52-year history of the college to be given an honorary degree. She was awarded a doctor of engineering degree and cited by the board of trustees for her distinguished career as a scientist, physician, astronaut, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

In Jemison’s remarks to the graduates and their families, she offered ” last physics lesson before you leave. Hold up a ball and we say this ball has potential energy. But it can’t do work until it has kinetic energy. I have to drop it—it has to change states—before it has kinetic energy. I like to think of ideas as potential energy.

“Ideas are really wonderful, but nothing will really happen until you risk putting them into action. This graduation is filled with potential. Each of us—certainly the graduates—must be ready to change states. We get action from the willingness to changes states and by putting these ideas into action.”

Robert CaveProfessor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Faculty Robert Cave (photo at left) was honored with the Henry T. Mudd Prize for his service to the college. Established in 1992, the Mudd prize includes a $4,000 stipend, half of which the recipient designates for a college project.

“When I was a graduate student at Caltech in the mid-80s,” Cave said after receiving the award, “people would ask me,’What do you want to do when you graduate?’ and I’d say, ‘I want to teach at a place like Harvey Mudd.’ That dream came true 19 years ago and about the only thing I can say about it is I underestimated how magnificent an experience it would be: an incredible faculty, incredible resources to do what we do, and a student body that is unparalleled. This is a gift.

“For me, it couldn’t be sweeter that this award should happen today, as this class graduates. Four years ago, we started together; I as associate dean and you as freshmen. I am so proud of what you have accomplished and I’ve been privileged to walk together with you.”

Amanda HickmanAmanda Hickman (photo at left) , a chemistry major from Ooltewah, Tennessee, was selected by her class to give the senior address. In August, she will begin her studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry.

Hickman noted that, as a junior, she was asked to give a tour to a vice president of The Princeton Review. At the end of the tour, she was asked, “Is Harvey Mudd the right place for everyone who wants to study math, science and engineering?” She pondered the reasons why she should say yes, including the possibility of influencing the college’s ranking. “In the end,” she recalled, “the only answer I could say was, ‘no.’ Harvey Mudd College is the perfect place . . . for Mudders.”

She went on to define Mudders as having two distinguishing characteristics, one of them being the “only-at-Mudd” conversations that occur on campus. “It is not really the topic that makes these conversations important, but the passion with which we engage in them. It’s this passion for understanding, this passion for knowledge, which unites all of us.

“The second thing that unites us is the remarkable willingness to help one another. The standard line in admissions is that at Mudd there is no cutthroat competitive atmosphere, but one of collaboration. This is true, but it doesn’t capture it. We want each other to succeed, and we help each other succeed. It is this feeling that has transformed the students, faculty and staff from being most than just a school, but a family.”

Maria KlawePresident Maria Klawe (photo at left) concluded the ceremony with remarks to the graduates and their guests: "You chose to come to Mudd because you wanted to be challenged, you wanted to be part of an intimate and supportive community, you wanted to be taught by some of the best teachers in the world, you wanted to learn how to make a difference in society and you wanted to have fun while doing all that. You did it, and I am enormously proud of every single one of you. As I tell everyone who will listen, Mudd students are the brightest, nicest and hardest-working group of students I have ever encountered." 

View the gallery of commencement images captured by HMC photographer Kevin Mapp Brian ButcherOn Monday, May 14, a picnic for faculty, staff, students and their families celebrated the successful completion of the academic year with the presentation of service awards.

Brian Butcher (photo at right), who serves as Dining Services’ lead for Jay’s Place, the popular after-hours cafe and student meeting place, was recognized with the Mary G. Binder Prize. One nominator said Brian has ”. . . the most overwhelming sense of caring I’ve seen exhibited on this campus. He knows the names of nearly every Mudd student . . . .” The prize includes a $500 check and Brian’s name will be added to the Mary G. Binder Prize plaque, which is installed in the foyer of Galileo Hall.

Also recognized for their landmark years of service to the college were the following members of the faculty and staff:

Five Years:
Brian Butcher, dining services
Raul Mendoza, dining services
Raymond Allen, computing and information services
Thomas Shaffer, facilities and maintenance
Darryl Yong, mathematics
Michael Tatum, dining services
Olivia Perez, dining services
Gene Ekenstam, advancement
Claire Connelly, mathematics
Jon Jacobsen, mathematics
Rachel Mayeri, humanities and social sciences

10 Years:
David Williams, computing and information services
Laura Clark, business affairs
Beverly Kelley, computing and information services
Irene Barela, development
Lillian McCollum, chemistry
Thomas Donnelly, physics
Jean Cartwright, financial Aid
Joyce Green, computer science
Raul Oliveros, dining services

15 Years:
Sally Arroyo, college relations
Maura Cartagena, facilities and maintenance
Shenda Baker, chemistry
Grace Alvarez, facilities and maintenance

20 Years:
Annie Atiyeh, physics
Zee Duron, engineering
Kathy Morrison, physics

25 Years:
Rogelio Cabada, dining services
Andy Davenport, computing and information services