Bagpipes, robes, cameras, and foreign policy

This morning the Millar Brass Ensemble welcomed soon-to-be-graduates’ families and friends into Harper Quad. Once the processional from Hull Gate began shortly after 9 a.m., all eyes turned to the University of Chicago Pipe Band and then, of course, to the black- or maroon-robed degree candidates. Family members, wearing flower-print dresses or khakis, lined each side of the parade, waving, smiling, and clicking their cameras when the student they’d been waiting for finally passed. “There’s my brother,” one graduate said to the woman behind her, smiling and waving to said relative.

Though cloudy skies and sticky air appeared to threaten this morning’s convocation session for Law School, Harris School, and SSA graduates, the ceremony concluded without a drop. The Rev. Alison Boden, dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, offered an invocation, noting that despite this national day of mourning “our spirits can’t help but be elated” by such a celebratory event. Then political-science professor John J. Mearsheimer gave the convocation address, telling the graduates that with a Chicago education they are prepared—and indeed obligated—to publicly question U.S. foreign policy. “The elites who make foreign policy don’t like to have their ideas challenged,” he said. “As graduates of this institution you are well informed to engage in those debates and help avoid future foreign-policy debacles.”

At 3:30 this afternoon graduate students in the biological sciences, the medical school, the humanities, the physical sciences, the social sciences, the divinity school, and the Graham School of General Studies will receive degrees. Saturday morning is the undergraduate ceremony, and Sunday morning the business school. Mearsheimer will address all but the GSB convocation, when Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker, AM’53, PhD’55, will speak on “Business Schools within Universities: the Right Mix.”


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Far left and far right photos by Amy Braverman. Middle photos by Dan Dry.

June 11, 2004