Just Mail Us Our Diplomas and Be Done With It

Getting the boot as a commencement speaker is becoming quite fashionable these days:

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Monday joined an élite group—those whose plans to give commencement addresses this graduation season were derailed by student or faculty protests.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, was scheduled to speak this coming Sunday at Smith College, but she withdrew her name after nearly 500 people signed a petition objecting to the policies of the IMF. Similar outcries foiled speaking engagements by former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis University, among several others.

“I call it disinvitation season,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group. “Not everyone gets disinvited, but there is such consistent effort to get rid of people.”

I’ve never put much weight on big ceremonials.  For me, the purpose of commencement is twofold: to put a period on a sentence of a degree pursuit, and for academia to show off its importance.  Most commencement speakers put forth a long list of platitudes, urging students in a boring speech to lofty goals that are generally unattainable and in some cases undesirable.

I do, however, have my own ideas on what a reasonable commencement speech should be.  I don’t expect to get invited, so I put them on this blog; you can see them this time of year in the “Featured Posts” in the sidebar (the second one).

Evidently my low expectations aren’t so bad after all. I’d rather never get invited than to get invited and then watch as my invitation gets pulled under pressure by a bunch of narrow-minded ninnies whose inability to see the bigger picture casts aspersions on their university’s decision to grant them a diploma in anything.  (To say nothing of the professors who support them…)

With God’s help, I’ve got one more degree to obtain.  I found with the last one that disseminating the results of the research is more important than the ceremonial, and I don’t expect anything different here.  But if the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is unwise enough to allow their joint leftist/corporatist elements to get the best of them with a commencement speaker, then I’d sooner have my diploma mailed to be and be done with it.

2 Replies to “Just Mail Us Our Diplomas and Be Done With It”

  1. Don,

    A pleasure to see your good thesis “considering” (as we used to say of thoughtful “play” with a mathematical object) the pile’s wave equation.

    Getting differential equations back is one of my projects, and your good work with give me a parallel illustration to look at as I go along..
    Best,

    -dlj.

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