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2008 Commencement Recap

May 18, 2008

As proud families and friends watched, approximately 380 students received their diplomas during the College's 115th Commencement on May 18 on Marston Quad.

Students in the Class of 2008 came from as far away as Bulgaria, Singapore and Pakistan. Their majors ran the gamut from classics to molecular biology. As they headed off to graduate fellowships, careers and other adventures, the class joined the ranks of more than 19,000 Pomona alumni living around the globe.

In his Charge to the Class of 2008, Pomona College President David W. Oxtoby (text [pdf] ) implored the students to look to the past as well as the future. After recounting some of the College’s impressive history—as well as a few more questionable moments—President Oxtoby offered this advice:

“Take your history seriously, learn about it, both the heroic stories and the shameful episodes, and learn from it. While we pause today to consider the history of our own college, think about the broader context of this country and of the world. Turn that understanding of history into an invitation, even an imperative, not to accept the way things are, as our past has shaped the present world, but to go out and make a change so that the future can be better.”

Kyle Edgerton ’08 and Senior Class President Susan Sparrow '08 gave the student speeches. Lee Harlan ’55 received the Trustees' Medal of Merit. Honorary degrees were awarded to:

Oscar-award winning documentarian Alex Gibney delivered the keynote address and received an honorary degree. He won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary for his film Taxi to the Dark Side, which he wrote, directed and produced. Gibney also performed that triple duty on the Oscar-nominated film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the upcoming Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. He has also served as a producer on several films, including No End in Sight and Who Killed the Electric Car? Gibney is the son of the late Frank Gibney, who founded Pomona’s Pacific Basin Institute.

Peter Stanley served as Pomona’s president from 1991 to 2003. He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University and was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University. Prior to working at Pomona, Dr. Stanley taught American and American-East Asian History at Harvard and the University of Illinois, Chicago; served as dean of the college at Carleton College; and headed The Ford Foundation’s Education and Culture Program. Currently, Dr. Stanley is the vice president of executive search firm Isaacson, where he helps to identify and recruit leaders for colleges and art institutions. Text [pdf]

Award-winning composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has served as musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1992 and, for the 2008-09 season, will be the principal conductor and artistic advisor for the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. During his tenure at the L.A. Phil, the orchestra has established itself at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and held residencies at the Salzburg Festival, the Köln Philharmonic, and the Théâtre du Châtlet in Paris. Salonen also has an extensive recorded discography of both his own works and pieces by other composers, including Schumann and Mahler. 

Ingrid D. Rowland ’74 is a professor at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture in Rome. She received her undergraduate degree in classics from Pomona and went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. in Greek Literature and Classical Archeology from Bryn Mawr. Rowland has been a professor at several universities, including UCLA, UC Irvine, Columbia University and The University of Chicago. She has also written several books, including The Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery, From Heaven to Arcadia: The Sacred and the Profane in the Renaissance and the upcoming Caravaggio in One Square Mile. Rowland is also a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books.