A global affairs television correspondent, five honorary degree recipients and 430 graduates gathered for Kenyon’s 187th Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m. The event, which was livestreamed, was held at the Kenyon Athletic Center.
Martha Raddatz P’15, an Emmy award-winning global affairs correspondent for ABC News, gave the Commencement address. Raddatz has covered the Pentagon, the State Department and served as a White House correspondent. She is also the author of the best-selling book The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family, which chronicles a 2004 battle in Sadr City, Iraq. Raddatz, who is the mother of Jake Genachowski ’15, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
"There is no single definition of success," Raddatz said. "That is unique to each of you. You are the only ones who can really define success and happiness."
Four additional people were given honorary degrees at Commencement.
Richard “Rick” Hodes P’14 received an honorary Doctor of Science. Hodes is an American physician who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for a quarter century. He is a medical director there for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a 100-year-old nongovernmental organization. During his career, Hodes has supervised the health of thousands of Ethiopians immigrating to Israel. He is also the senior consultant at a Catholic mission, where he helps with the treatment of indigent patients with heart and spinal diseases and cancer. In addition, he has worked with refugees in Albania, Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania and Somalia.
Professor of Art Barry Gunderson, who is retiring, received a Doctor of Fine Arts. Gunderson joined the faculty at Kenyon in 1974 after receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado-Boulder. In his 40-year career at the College, he has shared his expertise in sculpture, teaching such courses as “Art with a Function” and “Art with Four Legs.” Gunderson also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Augsburg College.
Also receiving an honorary degree was Barry F. Schwartz ’70, outgoing chairman of the Kenyon College Board of Trustees. Schwartz, a nonpareil business leader, will receive a Doctor of Laws. Schwartz led the Board of Trustees since 2011, overseeing the hiring of President Sean Decatur, record-breaking numbers of admissions applications, creation of the Kenyon Institute, establishment of the Middle Path Partnership, and construction of the Cox Health and Counseling Center and the Rothenberg Hillel House. In addition, he is the executive vice chairman of MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, and he serves on the City University of New York Board of Trustees, Board of Visitors of Georgetown University Law Center and a number of other civic organizations, including Jazz at Lincoln Center and Human Rights First.
Mary Suydam, assistant professor of religious studies emerita, was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters. Suydam has taught courses in religion, history, and women’s and gender studies at Kenyon since 1991. Her specialty is in medieval mysticism, with an emphasis on the performance aspects of mysticism. She completed a doctorate in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The senior class chose Royal Rhodes, the Donald L. Rogan Professor of Religious Studies, as the Baccalaureate speaker. The Baccalaureate service, which also was livestreamed, took place Friday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m. on Samuel Mather lawn. Rhodes, a scholar of the history of Christianity, joined the Kenyon faculty in 1979. His other interests include liberation theology, third world religious experience, monasticism (East and West), and religion and the arts. He last served as the Baccalaureate speaker in 2006.
"Nothing in the universe is, has been, or will be you," Rhodes said. "Listen to your unique, unrepeatable voice and outlook that are authentic, original, creative, courageous."
Following the Baccalaureate service, the graduating class gathered to partake in a cherished Kenyon tradition, the Senior Sing, on the steps of Rosse Hall.