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President's Opening Remarks • Commencement 2006

"Exceptionally Accomplished"

Welcome to all families and friends of Pitzer College and of course, to all of our 217 seniors. I would like to congratulate all the mothers and grandmothers with us today and I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day. Forty-two years ago, the College held its first commencement in front of Sanborn Hall and bid a fond farewell to the class of ’65—a total of three students: Marlene Bates, Nicole Scheel and Katie Gibbs. The three women designed their graduation gowns and all our seniors today recognize the contributions of the first class by wearing graduation gowns in the same style and College colors. 

Graduates 2006
Kate Sherwood, Ted Weber, Alex Page, Patrick Mitchell and Matt Turzo

Here with us on this special occasion is the Chair of the Pitzer College Board of Trustees, Gene Stein, and his wife Mindy, as well as other distinguished members of our Board. I would like to thank them for their generosity of service to the College.

Today we celebrate our Class of 2006 and I offer my sincerest congratulations to you all. Seniors, during your time at Pitzer College you have traveled the globe studying the world in all its beauty and conflict. You have taught young children to read in our Jumpstart program; participated in the local communities of Ontario and Pomona through our Center for California Cultural and Social Issues; engaged in the deliberations for the College’s master and strategic plans; helped design new residence halls that your children may live in one day as proud Pitzer students; triumphed in Sagehens athletics winning 12 SCIAC championships in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s cross country, women’s soccer, tennis, and water polo; celebrated four Kohoutek festivals—including the first alternative Kohoutek; and took part in action research projects studying sweatshops in Los Angeles, analyzing water quality in Costa Rica, organizing the Pomona Day Labor Center, and offering AIDS education in Botswana.

Our New Resources seniors have successfully managed the fine balance of work, school and family. You have been members of Student Senate and College Council and assisted in hiring the next generation of Pitzer College faculty. You leave behind beautiful cactus gardens that you designed and planted as well as murals and other forms of public art. And you participated in the inauguration of a new president and have mentored her patiently and kindly. I stand here today after four years at Pitzer College a senior with you.

Today we honor our students and our faculty, and the extraordinary work they have created together. We give our heartfelt thanks to our staff for their fine efforts and to all the facilities and maintenance people, the groundskeepers, custodial and food services staff who have worked together to provide us with this beautiful setting and reception.

Following philosophical principles established in 1963, Pitzer College maintains that education best begins with a conversation between a student and her professor, and that this exchange should continue long after the student becomes an alumna of the College. Pitzer has a clearly established identity within higher education, and we stand proudly among America’s great liberal arts colleges. In addition to their academic excellence, our graduates are known for their engagement with the critical issues that face our world.

The class of 2006 is exceptionally accomplished. Among our graduating seniors we have a Watson fellowship winner (one of only 50 awarded nationally), and this year a record 48 of our graduating seniors were nominated for Fulbright scholarships (nearly 25% of the senior class) and nine have already been awarded Fulbrights [the final count is 16, includes 3 alumnae] making Pitzer College No. 1 per capita for Fulbright Fellowships awarded to all colleges and universities in the United States.

Our graduates have plans to study at some of the world’s finest institutions—Columbia, USC, UCLA, Yale, Michigan and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. They will be embarking on careers in the arts, medicine, education, social work and finance. Among our graduates we also have a professional soccer goalkeeper for the China Super League. Class of 2006, this is a special moment in your lives, and today we celebrate your success.

- President Laura Skandera Trombley