Harriet L. Weissman '58
May 25, 2008
President Creighton, Faculty and Staff, Trustees, Distinguished Guests, Parents, Family, Friends, and Members of the Class of 2008, I accept this glorious honor with enormous pride and joy. On this occasion, I wish to pay tribute to my partner of 46 years, my husband Paul, whose unflagging support has made it possible for my dreams to become a reality.
Many of you on this stage have heard me extol the accomplishments of Joanne Creighton, who as president of Mount Holyoke College has established a legacy of profound significance, as well as the virtues of the faculty, trustees, and administrative colleagues with whom I have been privileged to work. But today I want to speak directly to the class of 2008, not with words of wisdom, but with a feeling of pride, by acknowledging their achievements and those of the many students I have come to know and admire during my ten years as a trustee of the College.
At my very first trustee meeting, I witnessed exceptional student leaders articulate their views. Here were young women who radiated idealism; whose sense of fairness was most apparent; who raised concerns about inequities they felt needed correcting--on campus and beyond the College's gates. They not only talked the talk--they walked the walk by taking action in order to effect constructive change.
Such concerns and creative ideas were not confined to student leaders, but were expressed by their classmates during the many occasions I had to interact with them in their dormitories, at Blanchard Campus Center, and at the various student organizations on campus. Invariably, I came away from such meetings with a hopeful belief in the future--knowing that these determined young people would inevitably have a positive effect on the world.
Recalling the words of the sorely missed Wendy Wasserstein, you, the class of 2008, and Mount Holyoke students, past and present, are "Uncommon Women." And, if ever the world needed uncommon women, it is now! You have been given an education that responds to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Use that education well, keeping in mind the timeless urging of Mary Lyon: "Go Forward. Attempt Great Things. Accomplish Great Things."
I am confident you are up to the task. My heartfelt congratulations to you on this grand day.
Honorary Degree Citation
Harriet L. Weissman '58