While the previous day’s unseasonably cool temperatures kept hundreds of students and their families shivering under a tent in Radcliffe Yard during Convocation, Thursday’s sunny skies — matched with a rise of nearly 15-degrees — made for a picture perfect graduation.
For Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan, in his first commencement address since joining the school in August, his remarks reflected back to his last graduation address delivered in high school. Recalling that time, Ryan joked of barely being able to reach the podium as he shared a series of “famous and not-so-famous quotations” on time, strung together from Bartlett’s Book of Quotations.
On this occasion, Ryan said he would talk again about time, but also “about kindness, courage, and death.” Reflecting on the last 12 months, he recalled the speech he delivered to students in August where he asked them to “ask not just why, but why not.”
“I’d like to end the year like we began it, by taking one more moment to offer a little advice,” Ryan said. “You have spent your time here preparing to transform education in ways large and small, and I hope and trust you feel prepared and inspired for that task, because, like I said at the beginning of the year, the world needs you. You may be worried about what lies ahead for you professionally, but don’t fret. You are the luckiest graduates in the entire university, because you are going to work in education, and there is no higher calling, no more rewarding or meaningful field.”
"You are the luckiest graduates in the entire university, because you are going to work in education, and there is no higher calling, no more rewarding or meaningful field.”
In all, 661 graduates received degrees, including 44 from the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Program, 28 from the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program, 13 from the Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) Program, and 576 from the Master of Education (Ed.M.) Program. As part of today’s ceremony, Ryan also acknowledged the retirement of veteran professors Richard Elmore, Susan Moore Johnson, Richard Murnane, and John Willett. “Each of you dedicated your wisdom, wit, and passion to this place,” he said, “and you leave it better than you found it because of your presence.”
The HGSE Intellectual Contribution Award recognizes 13 students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced the academic life of the community and positively impacted their fellow students.