Class of 2012 Celebrates Milestones with ‘Spirit of Gratitude’

By JoLynne Bremmer | June 5, 2012

With loved ones proudly looking on, the Class of 2012—492 students strong—graduated on Friday, May 18. (View photos.)

The search for the best vantage point to view the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony began as early as 8 o’ clock for some families, more than two hours before graduates would process onto Haber Green. Some of those early arrivals claimed umbrella-shaded seats in front of the new Commons, others relaxed in Adirondack chairs and on the grassy slope by the Alumni Walk of Pride beneath big oak trees. Gradually at first, and then rather suddenly, the rows of seats covering the campus green filled with people eager to celebrate the occasion.

“I know that you are well-prepared for the challenges you will face and that you will continue to do great things,” said Arcadia University Board of Trustees Chair Margaret Wright Steele ’80 during her welcome to the graduates. A significant part of that preparation took place outside of the classroom, as 61 percent of the Class of 2012 studied abroad or away from campus as part of their global education.

During his remarks, President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III reminded graduates that he too was celebrating a milestone: his first Undergraduate Commencement as President of Arcadia University. Continuing the list of firsts, he noted signing by hand the nearly 500 diplomas graduates would receive later. He also acknowledged NJ Delener, the Founding Dean of the new School of Global Business, and the Resident Directors from Arcadia’s College of Global Studies, who traveled across the globe to attend the ceremony—all of whom were attending their first Undergraduate Commencement at Arcadia.

“Our University’s mission is to produce very bright people to lead our society. That’s you,” continued President Oxholm, before introducing honorary degree recipients Shelly D. Yanoff ’62 and Fred de Sam Lazaro.

Honored for her accomplishments as the Philadelphia area’s leading advocate for children and youth, Yanoff thanked her alma mater for recognizing the importance of her life’s work and spoke about the importance of service.

It is not an easy thing to look beyond yourself, but we all have an obligation to insist that we can and must change the course of many young peoples’ lives for the better…. I hope you carry with you the obligation to engage your community, wherever it is.

In his address, Fred de Sam Lazaro reflected on his career as a seasoned journalist, spoke about the impact of technology on society and encouraged graduates to remain “prisoners of hope” in order to succeed as social entrepreneurs.

I needn’t remind you that you’re graduating at a time of great economic uncertainty. But I want to offer you some reassurance that you will thrive, you will invent yourself, and reinvent yourself. Take it from one who has survived not one, but two, very deep recessions.

Before the graduates received their diplomas, Christopher Praetzel ’12, President of the Class of 2012, presented the class gift as a sign of the continued commitment the class will have to the university as alumni. While lighthearted with his remarks, which began with birthday shout-outs to friends, Praetzel left his classmates with inspiring words.

As each of us has grown and transformed, so has our campus. However, the values and traditions that make Arcadia such a great academic institution have stayed the same since day one. On this special day for you guys and for this university, we all have a spirit of gratitude both to the university and to all of those in our lives.