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Local News / Education

Tuesday, 3 May, 2011 1:41 AM

Gov. Snyder addresses U-M graduates at Spring Commencement with a few protestors

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivers the commencement address at the University of Michigan on April 30, 2011.

by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder highlighted the rewarding of degrees and sentimental procession during the University of Michigan’s 2011 Spring Commencement Ceremony by addressing his hopes for the future through a shared reflection on his U-M past.

During a Saturday transition from morning to afternoon, on April 30, Snyder spoke to countless graduates sitting in Michigan Stadium on what it took to be the “Leaders and Best” echoed in the line from “The Victors” fight song. The weather was cloudy and about 50 degrees during the start of the ceremony at 10 a.m. By the time it wrapped up at 11:30 a.m., it was sunny and 60 degrees.

“In terms of individuals, you are explorers,” said Snyder, implying that it was up to them to continue their journey in places away from Michigan. It was in this mind set that Snyder reflected on how he personally sought to be a leader in his U-M studies during the 1970s, that he sought to not only excel with the desire “To help people,” but just as importantly “to have fun” in doing what he did.

Some students showed their displeasure with the governor by standing up and turning their backs towards him as he spoke. In addition, a couple hundred protestors held signs to "Recall Rick" as they walked up and down Main Street before the ceremony began. Protestors held a rally across the street on the field at the Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. Many were upset with Snyder's decision to cut funding to universities, which will cause tuition to go up at the University of Michigan and other public universities across the state.

Occurring at a time in his term when controversy surrounding Snyder’s decisions as governor was thick, the theme both within Snyder’s address and all preceding ones that day was the urge to shake things up, to do things that were going to turn a great number of heads. “It’s that spirit of exploration that brought us here,” he added, providing a farewell reminder that, “By giving your best, you’ll be a stalwart among the leaders and best.”

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman offered her statement to the class of 2011. She is the 13th president of the university.

"You are the first class to graduated from a renovated, expanded Big House," Coleman said. "I thought it was only appropriate to provide a venue large enough for your dreams, your aspirations and your celebration. The most special guests in the stadium are the families of our students. All of you have provided invaluable support through the years. Our world needs strong, decisive individuals. Your student body president and fellow graduate, Chris Armstrong, is a proven leader. Yet, what created the biggest headlines for Chris is the fact that he is a gay man, the first to lead the Michigan student assembly. For today, goodbye, for tomorrow, good luck and forever, go blue."

Jillian Joan Garment Rothman, a senior in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts, was selected by U-M staff and faculty to give the remarks on behalf of the students.

"Today is our last time in this Big House as a class," Rothman said to her fellow graduates. "We have moved closer to the real world. Do we know if we are ready? The greatest ones from our community were the ones not afraid to take risks or to get messy. We can take a single lesson from our experiences at Michigan and make a difference. We have learned that Michigan, not under any circumstances, will have a snow day. Maybe you have learned, as I have, that the best professors come with the longest beards. We've learned that no injustice is far enough away to ignore."

That was perhaps what brought together not only Snyder and so many new alumni in the “Big House” stands, but also a collection of notable figures in numerous arts and sciences who like Snyder were honorary degree recipients. It was the governor's fourth degree from U-M, after he earned three others from the institution in the past.

The first of these was Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, a Doctor of Laws degree recipient as were Snyder, Stephen M. Ross, and William Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company. Receiving a Doctor of Arts was New York-based Shelton Lee, a renowned filmmaker best known to the world as "Spike." Eugene Robinson would receive a noted Doctor of Humane Letters, not only for his positions at publications like The Washington Post, but also for learning to become a leader in such a field at U-M of all places.

Last year, President Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan. The Ann Arbor, Mich. university has had a long history of hosting world-renowned speakers at its commencement ceremonies.

Related Story: President Obama addresses graduates at the University of Michigan

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Honorary degree recipients Vernon J. Ehlers and William Clay Ford, Jr.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Additional honorary degree recipients Shelton "Spike" Lee, Eugene Robinson and Stephen M. Ross.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Extra security for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

U-M Provost Philip J. Hanlon welcomed everyone to the ceremony.

 

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