College of the Atlantic commencement closes Bar Harbor school’s 40th year

Posted June 03, 2012, at 12:02 p.m.
Last modified June 03, 2012, at 4:54 p.m.
College of the Atlantic graduate Julia De Santis chooses a flower for a classmate during the school's 40th commencement in Bar Harbor on Saturday.
Courtesy of Jason P. Smith
College of the Atlantic graduate Julia De Santis chooses a flower for a classmate during the school's 40th commencement in Bar Harbor on Saturday.
Radio and television journalist Robert Krulwich addresses College of the Atlantic graduates Saturday during the school's 40th commencement.
Courtesy of Jason P. Smith
Radio and television journalist Robert Krulwich addresses College of the Atlantic graduates Saturday during the school's 40th commencement.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Radio and television journalist Robert Krulwich told graduates at College of the Atlantic’s commencement that now is the time to begin designing themselves, and that “the designing never ends.”

The ceremonies took place under a large tent on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, festooned with flags from the many nations from which COA students and alumni hail. Gathered were 87 graduates: 82 receiving bachelor’s degrees and five graduate students receiving Master of Philosophy degrees, all in human ecology. Joining them were COA faculty, staff, undergraduates and trustees, and hundreds of friends, family and alumni.

Krulwich spoke about his personal journey from law school to television to his current position as National Public Radio science correspondent and co-host of Radiolab, a radio program about curiosity. He told the audience, “This is a place that teaches that you aren’t stuck with the world you’re handed. You can change this world. You can imagine a different one. You can dream. … All three, the learning, the persisting and the dreaming, they all protect you. Yes, you’re going to get bounced around in the real world, but these three gifts will teach you how to bounce back.”

He called COA “a truly liberal arts college taught by people who improvise, who teach across departmental lines, who believe in knowing more than one thing,” and who teach by example how to learn.

At the ceremonies, Krulwich received an honorary Master of Philosophy in Human Ecology degree. Additional honorary degrees were given to Richard Levins, the John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at Harvard’s School of Public Health, and retiring board chair William G. Foulke Jr.

Five students spoke at the event, Lucy Atkins of Amherst, Mass., Vermonter Tasha Ball, Franklin Jacoby of Cherryfield, Samuli Sinisalo of Finland and Alice Anderson of Oregon, who introduced Krulwich. The students spoke of their own journeys — of the confidence needed to even dream of attending college, the good times they had while in school, and the lifelong connections they will carry with them.

The celebration closed the college’s 40th year of classes, and the first year that the college’s first alumni president, Darron Collins, stood on the stage to deliver diplomas — along with a hug, handshake or fist bump to the students. As part of the tradition, the students called their classmates’ names and handed each other a large flower, along with a hug.

As always, students chose their own graduation robes. Some were barefoot, one was bare-chested; two wore traditional academic regalia, some wore ties, and many wore dresses.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning — human ecology — that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society. For more information, visit www.coa.edu.

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