What does it take to fulfill our leadership obligation?” Clarence Otis Jr. ’77 asked the 512 undergraduates and 35 graduate students receiving their degrees during Williams’ 220th commencement exercises June 7. “I’ve come to believe it takes three things: sustained curiosity, the ability to dream big dreams and meaningful expertise, or know-how.”
In his address, Otis, who is chairman and CEO of Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company, said it was important to note both the people “who have created opportunities for us” and those “who have prepared us to take advantage of the opportunities.”
“Whether the community we choose to make the focal point of our life is academic, corporate, social, artistic or political, we can repay the investment the College, the nation and indeed the world have made in us—the privilege we’ve enjoyed—by providing our chosen communities with leadership,” he said.
Otis, a former Williams trustee, received an honorary degree, as did NPR foreign correspondent Anne Garrels (who gave the baccalaureate address), astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn, Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction writer Tracy Kidder, historian James McPherson and singer/songwriter James Taylor.
In addition to bestowing the honorary degrees, Williams President Morty Schapiro presented citations for retiring psychology professor Phebe Cramer and Cluett Professor of Humanities Mark C. Taylor, who were designated faculty emeriti. It was Schapiro’s last commencement as president of the College.
Among the Class of 2009, 11 students, including Phi Beta Kappa Speaker Jeffrey I. Kaplan and Valedictorian Peter S. Nurnberg, graduated summa cum laude. Sixty six, including Class Speaker Aroop Mukharji, were magna cum laude; 106 graduated cum laude; 53 with highest departmental honors; and 80 with honors. There were 63 members of Phi Beta Kappa and 62 members of Sigma Xi.
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