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Words of Wisdom

At Swarthmore’s 144th Commencement May 29, President Valerie Smith awarded honorary degrees to film critic and cultural historian Leo Braudy ’63, ecosystem ecologist F. Stuart “Terry” Chapin III ’66, and world-renowned scholar and advocate for deaf communities Carol Padden.

After Smith praised them—calling Braudy “a polymath’s polymath,” thanking Chapin for his “example” and “prophetic voice,” and describing Padden as a “remarkable” global leader—the three gave stirring speeches.

“You’ve learned here an impressive armory of methods and approaches, attitudes and perspectives,” Braudy told attendees. “But don’t forget that you learned it in a community of others, each with a
personal take on everything.”

“I ask each of you to take this opportunity to make it your responsibility to shape the future of our planet,” Chapin said. “Each of us must take an active role in seeking solutions, no matter how big or small,
rather than assuming that someone else will fix the problems.”

“To think about language expansively and creatively is to understand that it can take different forms, spoken and signed, whistled and clicked,” Padden concluded. “In their breathless diversity, not one
language is identical to the other, but in all of them we discover the breathtaking possibilities of diversity. I hope we never lose sight of this important fact about the world.”

+Nominate a candidate for a 2017 honorary degree.