White House Office of Budget and Management Director Peter Orszag addressed nearly 1,400 graduates and their families at Rensselaer’s 204th Commencement, the first to be held in the stadium at the new East Campus Athletic Village.
“Class of 2010, you are about to join the ranks of RPI alumni individuals who literally built Americafrom Ferris wheels to Fenway Park; from the transcontinental railroad to the Brooklyn Bridge,” Orszag said. “Individuals who changed our lives by putting TVs in our homes, GPS in our cars, the ‘@’ symbol in our e-mail, andmost importantly from the perspective of my 8-year-old son Guitar Hero 5 on our Wii’s.”
President Shirley Ann Jackson told graduates that a full economic recovery will demand innovation. And in innovation, the Class of 2010 is at an advantage.
“Although young people do not have an absolute monopoly on new ideas ... there are advantages to being young, in that you have not yet spent decades steeped in conventional wisdom,” President Jackson said. “So, graduates, we all are depending on you for the insights that will help us to create new industries, to create new jobs, and to solve the great global challenges.
“I hope that you will remember one idea that we have worked hard to weave into the fabric of the Institute: the supreme importance of talking to people outside your own field of expertise,” President Jackson said. “Conversation is a prerequisite for collaborative innovation, and for the movement of great ideas out into the world.”
In addition to delivering the Commencement address, Orszag received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Rensselaer also bestowed honorary degrees upon Robert Langer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Harold Varmus. Langer, who received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree, is a renowned biotechnology pioneer, who currently serves as the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. deGrasse Tyson, who received an honorary Doctor of Science degree, is a leading voice in astrophysics and a champion of increased
science literacy for the general public, and currently serves as the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Varmus, who received an honorary Doctor of Science degree, is co-recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering studies of the genetic basis of cancer. President Barack Obama recently announced the appointment of Varmus to serve as director of the National Cancer Institute.
The Commencement ceremony was broadcast live on the Web. A re-broadcast of the event can be viewed at http://mediasite.itops.rpi.edu/Mediasite5/Viewer/?peid=91c84f49e60c4682b5b148047b56d909.
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