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June 02, 2012
Knox College's 2012 Commencement Exercises
Knox College conducted its 167th Commencement exercises on Saturday, June 2 on the South Lawn of Old Main, where more than 300 graduating seniors received bachelor's degrees.
The Commencement speaker, Brigadier General Mark Martins, urged graduates to make a habit of "looking for contrasting worlds and seeking to bridge them -- and in this way pursuing a life of service." General Martins, chief prosecutor of the war crimes trial system reformed by the Military Commissions Act of 2009, is a noted proponent of transparency and legitimacy in legal proceedings involving detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
"Most of bridge building is not instantly gratifying. Nor is it for the fickle or the faint of heart," he added. "But for those prepared to take on such challenges, the rewards are great."
The senior class speaker, Gregory Thomas Noth, called on his classmates to "go do the amazing things Knox alumni do."
"Those that came before us set the bar quite high. It is our job to make sure it remains there. Keep loving life, this school, and each other," he said. "This is a community unlike any other, and it's because of the people that comprise it."
Bachelor's degrees were conferred on 329 graduating seniors, including 120 who earned Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude). Seventeen members of the Class of 2012 were awarded College Honors for advanced independent study projects that were evaluated by a select committee and produced a major piece of research or creative work.
Honorary degrees were conferred on General Martins and on Sir Andrew Davis, music director and principal conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Joseph S. Francisco, William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Physical Chemistry at Purdue University.
The Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Award was presented to Professor Lance Factor, George Appleton Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy and co-chair of Religious Studies. "For over 40 years on the Knox faculty, he has been one of the college's premier teachers and scholars," Brett Tilly '95 said as he made the presentation. "The college is a better place because of him."
Knox College President Teresa Amott congratulated the newest Knox alumni, who are graduating in the college's 175th anniversary year.
"Honor the work of our founders," she told them. "Honor the work of our faculty. Honor the work of our staff and of this year's honorary degree recipients by being, yourselves, of use. Like Dr. Joseph Francisco, seek truth. Like Sir Andrew Davis, seek beauty. Like General Mark Martins, seek justice and build bridges."
"We have hope and faith in you."
Members of the Class of 2012 came from 30 states and 17 countries, and hundreds of their family members and friends attended the Commencement exercises.
The crowd included Yvonne LeFlore, her daughter Latosha Bonner, and Bonner's son, Landon, all of whom traveled from Chicago, Illinois, to watch Alexandra LeFlore receive her degree.
"She is my baby," said Yvonne LeFlore, Alexandra's mother. "She's made it through difficult adversities in life. I'm very proud."
Prem Kasaju and his wife, Sudha, took "quite a journey" from their home in Kathmandu, Nepal, to see their daughter, Supriya, graduate.
"We're thrilled and excited," said Sudha Kasaju. "It seems like yesterday we came here" to drop her off when she started at Knox.
"The way she has grown up as an individual, independent with her own thinking, that is very satisfying," Prem Kasaju added. "She has evolved as a person. That is because of her experience here, so we would like to thank Knox."