AGS Commencement: 33 Graduates from 14 Countries Walked in Paris

By Purnell T. Cropper | June 12, 2014

The American Graduate School in Paris (AGS), Arcadia University’s partner institution in France, celebrated its commencement on June 5. The ceremony took place in the Alliance Française auditorium, in the same building as AGS, and was followed by a graduation dinner in the French Senate, where AGS has held its commencement for the past 10 years under the sponsorship of a sitting senator. The 33  graduates who compose the AGS class of 2014 were awarded an Arcadia University degree after having completed one of the Arcadia-affiliated programs at AGS in Paris, the one-year International MBA or the two-year M.A. in International Relations and Diplomacy.

This was a special commencement for AGS as it coincided with the 20th anniversary of the school, which was founded in 1994 in Paris by three American diplomats and professors, long resident in Europe, who had a vision of offering excellent academic programs combining the American model of education with the rich resources of France and a multi-cultural faculty.

Dr. Steve Michael, provost of Arcadia University, speaks at the AGS commencement ceremony. Dr. Steve Michael, provost of Arcadia University, speaks at the AGS commencement ceremony.

Dr. Steve Michael, provost of Arcadia University, traveled to Paris to celebrate the occasion. Offering to Dr. Eileen Servidio, head of the international relations programs at AGS, a framed picture of the Arcadia’s Grey Towers Castle and a letter in the name of Dr. Nicolette DeVille Christensen, president of Arcadia University, he pointed to the perfect match that the partnership between AGS and Arcadia forms, as both institutions place an important emphasis on international experience and global citizenship.

At AGS, like at Arcadia, the international experience starts in the very classroom, where students come from all over the world, bringing multiple perspectives in the discussion. The graduates who compose the AGS class of 2014 are from 14 different national origins: France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iran, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. “Cultural diversity has defined our student body—as well as our faculty—from our very first class 20 years ago, where we had five students from five different countries,” says Servidio, who heads the international relations programs at AGS. “Since then, we have had students from over 50 national origins.”

The question of diversity and difference was the theme of the official commencement address, delivered by former U.K. Ambassador Sir Christopher MacRae. A graduate of Oxford University and Henry Fellow at Harvard University, and a former professor at AGS, MacRae drew from his thirty-five year diplomatic career in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including assignments in Baghdad, Beirut and Tehran, to share advice with the new graduates. He called them to reflect on what defines identity, and to contribute to the world by fighting intolerance, closing his speech with an enthusiastic “Vive la différence!” which had particular resonance as the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of D-Day were about to take place in nearby Normandy.

Photos by Arthur Lockhart