The College of the Liberal Arts does have a commencement speaker: our student marshal, Lindsay Wells. Lindsay is a triple major in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Art History, and Medieval Studies.
What we don’t have is a second commencement speaker from inside or outside the University. Although we have traditionally had two speakers, this year colleges were given the option not to have a non-student commencement speaker. We in the College of the Liberal Arts decided to give that a try this year in order to highlight our student marshal and to try to limit the length of the ceremony.
We grant over 2000 degrees each year and call out the names of over 1500 students at the spring commencement ceremony. Calling individual names is important for the many families who have gathered to celebrate the accomplishment of a specific, unique individual.
I believe we are the only College that still has a student speaker at commencement, and we decided that was the tradition to continue as it expresses well the student-centered spirit of the ceremony and of the approach to education we take in the College of the Liberal Arts.
Entrance to the Graduate apartment building.
For those of you considering coming to the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State, this passage captures something of the spirit of the education we offer.
Too many students (and their parents) think of college as the place that will grant them the degree they need to work at X job. The problem is, X job might not exist 10 or 20 years from now. Or X job might be transformed into something else, something that requires critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills.
When that happens, and it happens all the time, humanities majors find that their degrees were good investments after all - and that they are employable anywhere in the economy where there is thinking to be done.” —
If you have to go with an economic argument, Bérubé makes a good one.