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Honorable oratory

Honorable oratory

Salutes to the graduates of ’05 included wise counsel from three honorary degree recipients.

Tim Russert, NBC journalist: “The values you have been taught, the struggles you have survived, and the degree you are about to receive from Skidmore have prepared you to compete with anybody anywhere. People with backgrounds like yours can and will make a difference.…You will help save lives, protect plaintiffs or defendants, prevent disease, and train young minds.…
“Remember the people alongside you and below you, the people who haven’t had the same opportunity, the same blessings, the same Skidmore education.…For the good of us all, please build a future we can all be proud of. You can do it, but please get busy—you only have 2,300 weeks before you’ll be eligible for Social Security.”

Carolyn Patty Blum, human-rights lawyer (and mother of Rebecca ’05): “I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust and World War II, a war fought by my father and stepfather and uncles… And then, in my youth in the ’60s, I [joined] the great struggles for justice and against the war in Vietnam.…We were marching for social change; but at the same time, we were making crucial choices about who we wanted to walk with in this life.…“World War II and my Jewish heritage and those movements of my youth did cast a long shadow into my life. I found myself drawn in my professional work to the lives of my refugee clients….I have walked with men and women who were tortured or who lost siblings, parents, even their own children to unspeakable violence. It has been my great honor to be able to…strengthen the voices of those who had been silenced, to walk with them from darkness to light…“As you walk up here today to receive your college diplomas, savor every step.…My heart and those of all of us here today are with you as you step down from that stage and begin your walk.”

Phil Ramone, music producer (and father of William ’05): “I try to seek excellence in my field.…I also believe that is the standard that has guided Skidmore for the past century. You students are the beneficiaries of this code of excellence, which will serve you well in the world you are about to enter.…“My father was a chemist by profession, and when I was a boy, he would take me to his lab and show me how fascinating science could be. When I would go home, my mom, who was a great ragtime piano player, would sit at the piano and show me how fascinating music could be. Between the two of them, I got the best of these two different worlds, and I am grateful to them both for setting me on this schizophrenic path that led me here today.“I wish you all great success in your chosen fields.”