Always a Terp, Kirwan bids fond farewell to UM Departing president lauded at commencement

May 23, 1998|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Saying he'll always be a Terp, William E. Kirwan bid a teary farewell yesterday to the University of Maryland, College Park as students, faculty and educational leaders lavished praise on their departing president.

Presiding over his ninth and last commencement here, at which Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright spoke on global economics, Kirwan said he will take a "Terp for life" key chain as he and his wife, Patsy, leave campus next month. After 34 years as a mathematics professor and administrator at College Park, he will assume the presidency of Ohio State University in July.

Likening himself to a graduate, Kirwan told the 4,414 graduates: "You and I are both leaving our beloved University of Maryland. You have taken four or five or six years. It has taken me 34 years."

His remarks punctuated by cheers, Kirwan ticked off the university's academic and athletic accomplishments this year, which included national championships in mock trial and women's lacrosse. Then he took them on an imaginary journey across Maryland -- his drive west to Ohio -- to list the contributions, such as agricultural extension agents and teachers, developed by the school he has led for nearly a decade.

"No matter where we each may be in the years ahead, we are bound together by our debt to this institution, and our love for it," Kirwan said. "We're Terps forever. Go, Terps!"

In remarks echoed by others taking the podium, Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said Kirwan had "brought the university to the threshold of greatness."

The senior class also announced that a tree will be planted on campus in honor of Kirwan, next to the class gift, a bronze statue of alumnus Jim Henson, the late creator of the Muppets.

Kirwan remained composed until nearly the end of the two-hour ceremony, when Linda Mabbs, a music professor, sang a personalized version of one of his favorite songs, "Shenandoah." "Oh, Brit, we'll long to see you, far away, in Ohio," she sang, as Kirwan and some faculty members wiped their eyes.

Albright, who received an honorary doctorate, spoke in support of the Clinton administration's efforts to promote economic development and democracy abroad.

Americans' prosperity increasingly will depend on foreign trade, she said, but the administration wants that global economy to reflect American values. Toward that end, she said, the United States is increasing its financial support for international efforts to end child labor.

"When we buy a blouse or shirt, we want to know that it was not produced by people who were underage, under coercion, in prison or denied their right to organize," she said.

Albright drew a standing ovation from the Cole Field House audience. That contrasted with the heckling she got in February at Ohio State in Columbus, where she had gone to explain why the United States was threatening to bomb Iraq for refusing to let United Nations inspectors check for chemical weapons.

Before yesterday's ceremony, Albright received a letter signed by about 100 UM students criticizing U.S. support for economic sanctions against Iraq. A State Department spokesman said she had no immediate response.

The university awarded 3,391 bachelor's, 852 master's and 171 doctoral degrees. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, received an honorary degree.

UMAB

Gov. Parris N. Glendening urged 1,869 graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore's seven professional schools to commit themselves to serving the community. Speaking at commencement exercises in the Baltimore Arena, the governor suggested that the students get involved in education, in protecting the environment and in seeking to help the disadvantaged.

"Let us not miss the opportunity we have before us today to build a brighter future for our community and to keep our promise to the next generation," the governor said.

Glendening and Harold Chappelear, chief executive officer of University Pharmaceuticals of Maryland, received honorary degrees.

Goucher College

Taylor Branch, historian and prize-winning author of two books on Martin Luther King Jr., advised the 253 graduates of Goucher College to engage other people and look them in the eye.

"Believe it or not, our entire national purpose begins with the quality of your daily interactions," said Branch, who taught at the Towson campus this year.

Branch and Judy C. Lewent, a Goucher alumnae who is a top executive at the pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co., received honorary degrees.

Pub Date: 5/23/98

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