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Monday, May 16, 2011

Driving back from CLA's commencement last night I mused over how pleasing it was to listen to the various speakers talk about the potential the members of the Smith College class of 2011 have to work good in the world knowing that CLA will be realizing that potential in January when she ships off to Africa on a Peace Corps mission.

I also thought about the clever way that Smith works with tradition. There are a lot of Smith traditions: Sophomore Push is a venerable one I didn't know about, for example. Shown here are two newer ones. These are some of the seniors who rowed with CLA. They wore their unitards under their robes, "a Crew thing" as CLA described it. The woman in the white hard hat is a graduate of the engineering program, which admitted its first students in 2000. The engineering graduates enter the ceremony wearing mortarboards like the rest of the students, and carrying these white helmets. When their degrees are conferred, instead of moving the mortarboard tassel from one side to the other they take off the mortarboards and put on the hardhats. The symbolism is terrific-- now they are ready to go to work-- but what I really like is that nobody bothers to mention it during the ceremony.

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