President's Welcome by Dale T. Knobel, University President
This is the 164th Commencement of Denison University, and like all those before it, it is a celebration of a passage in life. "Passages" acknowledge the change that has and is occurring, and if our graduates sometimes find it hard to recognize all of the changes in themselves that have taken place since their arrival as First Year Students in August 2001, the parents, family members, friends, and faculty who surround them today are surely aware of them.
It is important to recognize that Denison University has not stood still either during these four years, and maybe just a few highlights of the changes around them will encourage members of the Class of 2005 to reflect on the personal changes they, too, have experienced. Since you arrived on campus, Class of 2005, fifteen hundred or so others with whom you shared this campus in the fall of 2001 have already graduated in the Classes of 2002, 2003, and 2004, and a like number have taken their places in the classes that follow you. While we are at any point in time a college of just a bit over 2,000 students, you've actually crossed paths with more than 3,500 other Denison men and women during your years here, and your sense of comradeship will grow as you become reacquainted with them at reunions and at regional alumni activities in the years to come.
Change has come to the faculty during your time at Denison, too. Not only have there been four years of retirements, including several senior professors who we will recognize a little bit later this afternoon, but nearly forty new professors have joined the Denison faculty since you arrived. Think about it; you have had learning experiences with professors who none matriculating at Denison after this year will enjoy. In turn, those students who come to campus this fall will begin to work with professors unknown to you. A college -- a strong and vibrant college -- is constantly experiencing renewal.
When you arrived on campus, apartments with kitchens for student living were a brand new thing to Denison, save for a small number of units in Stone Hall, Taylor, and the "Satellite" Houses. Sunsets A through C had just been converted from suite-style without kitchens to full apartments and D had just opened. Student interest in this kind of living persuaded the Board of Trustees to authorize the construction of two more apartment-style halls, named Elm and Maple, which will open this fall. Electronic classrooms were relatively rare; they're now commonplace. Full internet connections to every desk in every residence hall room had only been in place for two or three years when you arrived; but for you the internet is ubiquitous, and an increasing number of wireless buildings and zones are dotting campus. You connect to the world through the "My Denison" internet portal and even vote for campus officers online. The Campus Common, flanked today by the Morgan and Talbot buildings, was just a busy and sometimes inconvenient construction site for your first two years of study.
Nor will the campus ossify after your departure and preserve itself unchanged as you evolve from student to alumnus. Nineteen new professors will join us in the fall. And, of course, there'll soon be the 575 or so members of the Class of 2009, men and women a little like you were in the fall of 2001 but different, too, members of a whole new student generation with their own character, tastes, and perspectives. By the fall, not only will the new residence halls be open but another round of renovations in Knapp Hall will be complete, allowing several academic departments to improve upon their classrooms, laboratories, and offices. Though construction awaits the raising of additional funds, an architect has been identified for the complete historically sensitive renovation of Cleveland Hall, the studio art building.
But these are just roadmarks of the changes that have come to you. There are certainly more profound indicators of those changes in the collective accomplishments of the Class of 2005. In all, you number 446 graduates and you will leave campus today with 6 Bachelor of fine Arts degrees, 57 Bachelor of Science degrees, and 383 Bachelor of Arts degrees.
The Valedictorian of the class is Susanne Winkler, who has earned a BA in Economics. But we have two Salutatorians, the honor being shared by a man and a woman, Benjamin Wagner, receiving a BA in Psychology, and Ryan Brenn, a BA in Political Science. Actually, 94 of you have prospered so well in your studies that you are graduating with Latin honors -- the various notations of cum laude listed in your programs. And yesterday morning, I witnessed the induction of no fewer than 27 members of the Class into Phi Beta Kappa, the historic academic honor society, joining Susanne Winkler, who had the extraordinary honor of being inducted last year as a junior.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Kent Maynard in the Huffman Hall Presidents Room to recognize 35 graduates who stretched themselves intellectually by fulfilling the requirements of Denison's interdisciplinary Honors Program. And just a few weeks ago, 54 of you completed senior honors projects, which are the result of sustained independent scholarship and especially close collaboration with professors.
Several of you have represented your classmates particularly well by attracting national attention for your achievements. Megan Carlson earned a Fulbright teaching fellowship that will send her to Austria. Brendan Heater and Gratia Trahan have both been awarded French government teaching assistantships administered by the Fulbright program. And Jill Boo was honored with not one, but two, Fulbright teaching awards, one for Germany and one for Austria. I think she'll have to choose! Speaking of Jill, she also won a highly sought-after NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, as did her teammate on the Denison Swimming and Diving squad, Sarah Peck. Sarah and Jill are helping Denison hold its historic place as one of the nation's leaders for recipients of these prestigious awards. Kurt Federer of Lacrosse and Jill Boo were both named North Coast Athletic Conference Scholar Athletes of the Year, and earlier this year, Brian Bishoff was selected as a Central Ohio National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete.
As these last recognitions indicate, members of the Class of 2005 seized opportunities to challenge themselves out of the classroom as well as within. Many of today's graduates participated actively on one of the 28 committees of the Denison Community Association -- DCA, providing this year alone more than 20,000 hours of documented off-campus service to Central Ohio communities and social service agencies. Steve Grosse was singled out by the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce to receive the annual Kussmaul Award for distinguished service to the community for excelling academically while sharing his time and skill as a member of the Granville Volunteer Fire Department and EMS unit.
On the strength of top three finishes in 16 of 22 men's and women's varsity sports, including three conference or tournament championships, Denison is a lock to earn an extraordinary eighth consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy. This year, Men's and Women's Cross Country, Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving, Women's Tennis, Men's Lacrosse, and Women's Basketball, along with individual competitors from Men's Golf and Women's Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, all advanced to NCAA tournament competition. In fact, Lacrosse Seniors are just back from their match in Virginia yesterday afternoon, and Women's Tennis, having won the NCAA regional tournament, will play in the national quarterfinals next week. In a couple of weeks, runners from the Women's Outdoor Track and Field squad will be participating in the NCAA Championships.
Many Denison students thrive upon the combination of academic challenge, performance in the arts, off-campus service, athletic activity, and campus leadership in different proportions appropriate to the individual. Some pursue these combinations, capped by superior academic achievement, with such remarkable results that they earn the acclaim of faculty, college staff, and fellow students alike. The exemplars of this are recognized as Denison President's Medalists. The Class of 2005 includes five honorees, who were formally recognized at the Academic Awards Convocation in April. Representing the highest levels of academic achievement and leadership at the college are graduates-in-waiting Jill Boo, Lars Jornow, Anusha Jogi, Lisa Rusen, and Susanne Winkler.
As a class, 2005, you have accomplished much at Denison -- much that builds in the rest of us an expectancy for your achievements in the years ahead of you. Those of us on the faculty and staff of the college and certainly you, yourselves, recognize that you do not come to this day of passage entirely on your own. Consequently, before we move on to the next events in this ceremony, I'd like us to recognize the large and very special group of people who have made this day possible. We honor them for their commitment and sacrifices and thank them for their sustained love and support. We also dedicate this day to the memory of those parents, family members, friends, and even college-mates taken too soon whose loss during these college years inevitably makes commencement less complete for some of us. Members of the Class of 2005, would you please stand, turn toward your families and friends who are here to celebrate your achievement, and join me and the faculty in expressing our appreciation with applause.