Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dr. Smith and the Unique 2008 Commencement Exercises at NJ's Rowan University

The 2008 Commencement Exercise at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, weren't your run-of-the-mill pomp and circumstances. For one, the commencement address given by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. was one which gave it to the graduates straight up. Pitts told graduates: "Class of 2008, the sad truth is you are about to be turned loose into a world of stupid."

According to the Press of Atlantic City, Pitts went on to say;

Pitts jarred his audience from complacency with denouncements of a society littered with too many "intellectually lazy and morally unkempt" individuals "drugged" by technology, "a people hypnotized by a culture of acquisition and corporate values."
"We have more ways to say and yet less to say than ever before, more power and yet less willingness to use it than ever before," Pitts said. "We watch from the well of our own impotence as the world goes to hell. And when things seem most bleak, most hopeless, most dire, we shop. When the going gets tough, the tough go to the mall.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Pitts continued, "peace is not for sale at the mall. Justice is not for sale at the mall. Progress is not for sale at the mall. The things that enable you to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are a worthwhile person, a contributor to this experiment called humanity, those things are not for sale at the mall. They come when you work for them, they come when you fight for them, they come when you plant trees."

If that wasn't inspiration enough for the class of '08, the lucky graduates got to witness the legendary Punk Priestess, Patti Smith, collect an honorary degree. Smith dropped out of the university - then known as Glassboro State 40 years ago to head to NYC for greater challenges. Of course, those challenges were met head on. In addition to her 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as being awarded one of the highest French cultural honors; Commander of the Order of the Arts and Letters, Smith now has the title of "Doctor" to add to her impressive dossier.

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