Senator Udall ’72 headlines Convocation

091609_news_convocation091609_news_convocation_thumbChapin Hall rang with eloquence, ceremony and cheers on Saturday morning as the academic year commenced with the annual rite of Convocation. Graduating members of the Class of 2010 as well as graduate students from the Center for Developmental Economics and the graduate program in art history donned their academic finery and gathered with faculty and administrators to mark both the beginning of their final year at Williams and the awarding of the Bicentennial Medals, the Grosvenor Cup Award and Phi Beta Kappa recognition.

This year’s recipients of the Bicentennial Medal were Colorado Senator Mark Udall ’72, the Honorable Karen M. Ashby ’79, Mika E. Brzezinski ’89, Gary L. Fisketjon ’76 and John F. Raynolds ’51. Coupling convocation with the awarding of the medals is meant to symbolically connect current students with former ones and also offer students inspiration for future endeavors. Each of the honorees sat on stage during the ceremony, while medalist Senator Udall addressed the crowd with anecdotes from his experience as a mountaineer and politician.

Lizzy Brickley ’10 received the Grosvenor Cup Award for devotion and selflessness in serving the Williams Community. Brickely’s involvement in the College has spanned wide, as a former Junior Advisor, current College Council co-president and a member of several committees. After receiving the award Brickley joined her CC co-president, Mike Tcheyan ’10, in a speech lauding the class of 2010. In his speech, Senator Udall encouraged soon-to-be graduates to embrace everyday opportunities and strive to challenge themselves through adventure. In recalling his own experience at the College, Udall admitted that he “[dreams] about Williamstown and Williams College periodically” and fondly recalled the community of “people who challenged [his] assumptions about the way the world operates.” Speaking as both a senator and an avid mountaineer, Udall expressed hope that students would take on an attitude of success and achieve new heights with the intellectual tools and personal growth cultivated by the College. “Williams gave me the room and pushed me to climb,” he said.

A democrat who won his office in November 2008, Udall is a staunch supporter of environmental and sustainability initiatives and has long taken a proactive stance on working to solve environmental issues. He has pushed renewal energy programs and has led Colorado to national recognition in the field.

As one of the medalists, Udall follows in a tradition that began in 1993 on the 200th anniversary of the College’s founding. Each year the College awards Bicentennial Medals to alumni recognized for being accomplished in their fields.

This year’s medalists spanned varying areas of work and interest. With a recognizable face and well-known style, Brzezinski is a journalist and anchor for NBC, co-hosting MSNBC’s Morning Joe and appearing frequently on NBC Nightly News and Weekend Today. Her career has included anchoring on the CBS Evening News Weekend Edition and appearing on CBS Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes. Another Coloradoan with an impressive resume, Ashby was the first African American woman appointed to that state’s bench. Her expertise lies in juvenile and family law, where Ashby has worked to improve how families, and especially children, experience the family court system.

Widely hailed as one of the most prominent fiction editors today, Fisketjon works as editor-at-large and vice president of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., the New York publishing house. Fisketjon has won the Maxwell E. Perkins Award and worked with writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Joy Williams and Annie Dillard.

Raynolds served as a naval officer in the Korean War with Underwater Demolition Team 13, pioneering tactics later incorporated into U.S. Navy SEAL training. Raynolds also began a vast expansion of Outward Bound as its C.E.O. and has served on several other not-for-profit boards. He is an author, athlete and ardent volunteer.

College Chaplain Rick Spalding performed the invocation, which was followed by a welcome address by Interim President Bill Wagner. Dean Karen Merrill announced the newest members of Phi Beta Kappa, an honor granted to students in the class of 2010 with grade point averages in the top five percent.

The Mucho Macho Moocow Marching Band led the entrance procession alongside Tracey Ferriter ’10 and Schuyler Hall ’10, the class marshals for the Class of 2010. Kathleen Palmer ’10, Brian Simalchik ’10 and Alexander Taylor ’10 performed orchestral sections of Bach during the ceremony.