Go Forth, Do Well, Do Good

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2011 Commencement

A charge and a question for the Class of 2011.
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By Stacey Schmeidel

President John Kuykendall ended Commencement not with a peroration, but a question. “Please tell us,” he said, paraphrasing poet Mary Oliver, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

For many in attendance, the answer was already at least partially clear. Snider Scholar Daniel P. Legrand (above) received the Richard Ross Memorial Music Award. For co-founding a program for the poor and homeless in Charlotte, Rachel Richardson ’11 received one of three Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards, which recognize outstanding spiritual qualities applied to daily living. Sarah McIlroy ’11 was also honored for her work with Project Life, a bone marrow registry. Rosie Molinary ’96 received the community award for her work as a writer and activist.

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“Please tell us…what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life?”

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Paul Leonard ’62, an active alumnus and former trustee, received an honorary degree for his longstanding commitment to creating affordable housing, particularly through his leadership of Habitat for Humanity. Architect Graham Gund, who designed the Belk Visual Arts Center, was honored for designing a space that “created a home for a community of artists.”

Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Awards were presented to Keyne Cheshire, associate professor of classics, and Nancy Fairley, professor of anthropology.

Former President Tom Ross was on hand to participate in the ceremony for “his class”; the seniors arrived at Davidson in the same autumn that Ross began his presidency. Recalling advice he’d given during the students’ first days on campus, he reminded them that a Davidson education is a privilege. “Go forth,” he said, “do well, do good.”

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