Tag Archive for Commencement Address

President Roth: Rejection of Conformity Can be a Pursuit of Happiness

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth delivers the President's Remarks.

Address by Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’77 on the 178th Commencement at Wesleyan University, May 23, 2010:

Members of the board of trustees, members of the faculty and staff, distinguished guests, new recipients of graduate degrees and the mighty class of 2010, I am honored to present some brief remarks on the occasion of this commencement.

It is thrilling for me to stand here before you in such distinguished company. I am joined today by the very honorable Mayor John Hickenlooper, who has an undergraduate and a graduate degree from Wes. This gives me an occasion to remind all of us how lucky we are to have graduate programs on campus to enrich the educational experience for everyone. John’s administration in Denver has demonstrated idealistic passion and practical effectiveness, whether in public education, health care or on environmental issues. His team has attacked intransigent social problems like homelessness and unemployment, while also stimulating the growth of major cultural organizations and the civic pride that goes along with them. At a time when many politicians have retreated from the very idea of the public sphere, John Hickenlooper has reminded the citizens of Denver, and of Colorado more generally, that one of the joys of the modern polity is a robust and creative common life. His demonstration of authentic political engagement on behalf of the common good reminds me of the extraordinary work done by members of this class of 2010 in promoting opportunity through education from Middletown to Kenya.

Promoting opportunity through education has been a significant part of the life of my colleague and honoree Ruth Simmons. As president of Smith College and now of Brown University,