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2012 Commencement Recap

Note: To view videos and read speeches, please use the navigation on the left or click on the speaker's name below. To view photos of Commencement, view the slideshow above or visit our Facebook or Flickr account.

May 13, 2012

As proud families and friends watched--and were grateful for a reprieve from 2011's rain--approximately 360 students received their diplomas during the College's 119th Commencement on May 13 on Marston Quad under "String Theory," the artful and sustainable canopy first introduced at the 2009 Commencement. Notably, many mothers gave up their day of celebration to instead celebrate their children's graduation on Mother's Day.

In his charge to the Class of 2012, Pomona College President David W. Oxtoby remembered trustee and civil rights leader John Payton '73, who passed away recently, and the lessons his life could teach the graduates: acting passionately and thinking critically. He told the class of 2012, "To be effective in the world, we need to engage both our instincts and our pragmatism, to confront each situation not only by acting passionately in response to our deepest values, but also by questioning our assumptions and thinking critically about our actions and the effects they will have."

After President Oxtoby's speech, Senior Class President Carolyn Henderson '12 and Senior Class Speaker Benjamin Tumin '12 gave their speeches.

Honorary degrees were then conferred upon Marigold Linton, David Murray '77, Jonathan Veitch, and Commencement Speaker Cameron Munter.

  • Cameron Munter is a long-time diplomat, currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. Ambassador Munter arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, on October 26, 2010. He had previously served at the American Embassy in Iraq, first as political-military minister-counselor in 2009 and then as deputy chief of mission for the first half of 2010. In 2006, he led the first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq. Before working in the Middle East, he was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassies in the Czech Republic (2005-07) and Poland (2002-05). He has also served as director for Central Europe at the National Security Council (1999-2001), executive assistant to the Counselor of the Department of State (1998-99), director of the Northern European Initiative (1998), chief of staff in the NATO Enlargement Ratification Office (1997-98), country director for Czechoslovakia at the Department of State (1989-91) and Dean Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. He has held positions in Bonn, Prague and Warsaw. He received his doctoral degree in modern European history from the Johns Hopkins University, and was born and raised here in Claremont, California. His mother, Helen-Jeanne, is Pomona Class of 1947.
  • Marigold Linton is Cahuilla-Cupeño and an enrolled member of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. She is the first California reservation Indian to have left the reservation to go to a university, starting at UC Riverside and ultimately earning a PhD in experimental psychology from UCLA. She taught at San Diego State University and the University of Utah. At Arizona State University, she was the director of American Indian Programs serving Arizona tribes through the Rural Systemic Initiative. Since 1998, she has served as director of American Indian Outreach at the University of Kansas, where she developed a consortium with Haskell Indian Nations University that obtained more than $13 million to support research training opportunities for American Indian students and faculty at both institutions. She is a founder and former president of SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) and founder of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). She serves on the Committee of Equality of Opportunity in Science and Engineering and the National Academies Policy and Global Affairs Division Committee, and received the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring.
  • David Murray '77 is an internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist. He attended Pomona College for two years, studying under Stanley Crouch and Bobby Bradford, before launching his career as a musician and composer. He has founded and led a variety of well-regarded groups, including the David Murray Octet and the World Saxophone Quartet. Recording in the U.S. and abroad, he released more than 150 albums covering a range of genres, from avant-garde jazz to big band, from a Grateful Dead tribute (Dead Star, 1996) to opera ("The Blackamoor of Peter the Great," 2004, and "The Sisyphus Revue," 2008). Most recently, he released David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole en Español (2011), and he is collaborating on an upcoming recording project with Macy Gray. According to jazz critic Gary Giddins, "Few musicians in jazz history have proven more vigorously productive and resourceful than David Murray.... As a tenor saxophonist, he has perfected an instantly recognizable approach to improvisation that even in its freest flights acknowledges the gravity of a tradition he honors more than most." He has been recognized with the Bird Award (1986), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1989) and the Danish Jazzpar Prize (1991), in addition to being named the Village Voice's Musician of the Decade (1980) and Newsday's Musician of the Year (1993).
  • Jonathan Veitch is the 15th president of Occidental College, a private liberal arts college founded in Los Angeles in 1887, the same year as Pomona College. Veitch was inaugurated as president of Occidental on July 1, 2009, where he has sought to create new partnerships with Southern California's premier cultural institutions and strengthened the College's civic engagement, arts and literacy programs. A Stanford graduate, Veitch earned his doctoral degree in the history of American civilization from Harvard and is the author of the award-winning American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s (1997), among other volumes. His current research focuses on the history of U.S. higher education. He has taught in the English department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and as a professor of literature and history at The New School in New York City, where he also served terms as chair of humanities, associate provost and most recently dean of the Eugene Lang College, the university's undergraduate liberal arts division.