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Eckerd College Commencement
Speeches and Remarks

Dr. Donald R. Eastman III

Welcome, Eckerd College students. Welcome, parents, families, friends, Members of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, faculty and staff: Welcome to this 45th Commencement ceremony at Eckerd College.

This ceremony is called a "commencement." We celebrate not only what will end here, but what is to begin here.

At this ceremony we honor not only each graduating senior, but also the Class of 2008 at Eckerd College, a community of extraordinary men and women.  We honor what they have accomplished, and what they will accomplish in the years ahead.

I want to thank the Board of Trustees for all they have done to build this outstanding college in the liberal arts tradition and for their unstinting, unswerving support. Will the trustees who have joined us today please stand and be recognized?

I also want to express my gratitude to other distinguished members of the platform party for their participation in today's ceremony.

Thank you to our Commencement speaker, U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, and honorary degree recipients, Dr. Roger Porter and Dr. Charles Stripling III; Chairman Collier; and my colleagues, Dean of Faculty Lloyd Chapin, Dean of Special Programs Jim Deegan, Dean of Students Jim Annarelli and our Chaplain  & Director of Religious Life, Mona Bagasao.

Let me ask now the distinguished and dedicated men and women of the Eckerd College faculty, who are the embodiment of Eckerd College - to stand as we thank you for the labor that makes this day possible.

Thank you.

In this 50th Anniversary Year, Eckerd College is engaged in a capital campaign to secure and strengthen the College's already distinguished academic programs for the next 50 years.

At Convocation in February, we were very pleased to announce the establishment of the Tom and Mary James Professorship in Finance and the Elie Wiesel Professorship in Humane Letters and the appointments of Professor Naveen Malhotra and Professor Carolyn Johnston to those two new endowed positions.

Today, the Board of Trustees, Dean Chapin and I are pleased to announce the establishment of two additional endowed professorships:

First, a generous gift from Jeff Fortune, a member of our Board of Trustees since 1990,
has established the Richard R. Hallin Endowed Professorship in Natural Sciences to honor Dick Hallin, Emeritus Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, who has served the College since 1975 as Provost, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, and now as Emeritus Dean helping students gain a competitive advantage for undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships and fellowships.

The Richard R. Hallin Endowed Professorship in Natural Sciences will be filled by Professor Peter Meylan.   A member of the faculty since 1989, Professor Meylan has long been a leader of the Biology discipline at the College.  His study of marine turtles has brought him and the College an international reputation in this area of marine science.  

We are sorry Mr. Fortune and Professor Meylan cannot be here with us today; they are both coincidentally engaged in activities and research in the Caribbean basin.

Mr. Fortune's gift will also make possible the creation of a new faculty position in molecular biology.

Secondly, creative writing at Eckerd College is a strength of the College known especially for works by contemporary poets and writers by the names of Peter Meinke, Scott Ward, Helen Wallace, Dennis Lehane, and Sterling Watson, and for the highly successful Writers in Paradise annual conference.

A generous gift from Mrs. Martha Rudy Wallace, a member of our Board of Trustees since 1976, has established the Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing
to honor Professor Emeritus Peter Meinke, professor of creative writing at Eckerd College for 27 years, noted poet, essayist and fiction writer, and recipient of numerous awards.

The first occupant of the Peter Meinke Endowed Professorship in Creative Writing will be Professor Sterling Watson.

A member of the faculty for nearly 30 years, Professor Watson is the director of the Eckerd College Creative Writing Program and the Co-Director, with Dennis Lehane, of Writers in Paradise.  Professor Watson has authored five novels and dozens of literary essays, and he is the recipient of numerous grants for fiction writing.

We are fortunate that Trustee Martha Rudy Wallace and Professor Sterling Watson are here with us today. Please stand to accept our gratitude and our congratulations.

Thank you.

It is a privilege for me to serve this faculty; and it is an honor for me to be a colleague to the great staff of Eckerd College, who do their work, every day, with grace and skill, and at a very high standard. Will my colleagues of the Eckerd College staff - groundskeepers, housekeepers, food service staff, student life, finance... all Eckerd College staff - please stand so these students and their family and friends can applaud your service and support of them?

Thank you.
This day would not be possible without the support - - emotional, and spiritual and financial - - of the families of those who graduate today: grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, husbands and wives and children.

Please stand so we may recognize and applaud your love and support.

Thank you.

Eckerd College Class of 2008: You students who graduate today have taught in township schools in Cape Town, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and the French Alps, carried out service projects in Nicaragua and Burma and dozens of other countries, carried out thousands of rescues at sea through ECSAR, won Fulbright fellowships and Hollings Scholarships.  We are very proud of each of you.

You will soon begin careers in an ever-changing world, a world in great need of your talent and knowledge and energy.

You leave here today to make the world a better place. 

You are going to conduct research all over the world; address social, political and environmental challenges, attend law school and medical school and theology school;  you will become engineers, teachers, technicians, oceanographers, counselors, artists and scientists, attending superb graduate schools all over the United States in dozens of disciplines; and you will take leadership positions in your jobs and in your communities.

At the end of this ceremony, you will march off to show the world that Eckerd College changes lives, and Eckerd College graduates change the world: Please stand so we can recognize your achievement and your promise.

Thank you.

Eckerd College
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