May 23, 2014
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The largest class in Skidmore College history, the 712 members of the Class of 2014, was recognized at the college’s 103rd Commencement May 17 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Maiya Thornton-Hodge of Yellow Springs received a Bachelor of Science degree and graduated Cum Laude.
Two distinguished individuals — evolutionary biologist and author Neil Shubin, host of this spring’s PBS miniseries “Your Inner Fish,” and Skidmore alumna Janet Lucas Whitman, a trustee emerita of the college — received honorary degrees at the ceremony. Each delivered brief remarks to the class.
Shubin is the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish: A Journey Through the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Pantheon), which was the summer reading for Skidmore’s Class of 2014 and the foundation for the PBS series. His commencement appearance marked something of a reunion for Shubin, who addressed the class early in their first year on campus.
On Saturday he told them, “I hope that your time at Skidmore has opened up new ways of seeing for you. I hope it has cultivated your ability to see what is important to you, given you the tools to understand the hidden meaning of what you see, and, before you get too comfortable, to reveal to you how much you must continually jostle and challenge your established ways of seeing.”
Whitman, a member of Skidmore’s Class of 1959, was elected to the college’s board of trustees in 1994 and was board chair from 2008 until she retired in 2012. Whitman served two four-year terms as mayor of her hometown of Summit, N.J., where she was instrumental in raising funds for a new city hall and for renovations to the public library.
Her extensive volunteer experience informed her advice to the graduates. She urged them, “Say yes when asked to serve … It is the most satisfying privilege you can imagine, and volunteer service is what makes this country great.” Whitman added, “Continue to explore, engage in lifelong learning. Attack each challenge with a sense of purpose and a sense of humor.”
Following Skidmore tradition, a faculty member selected by the graduates delivered the commencement address. Peter McCarthy, field coordinator of the College’s Social Work Program and a member of the social work faculty, addressed the graduates, as did Linda Toohey, chair of the board of trustees, Xavier Hatten, president of the Class of 2014, and Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach.