Diplomat addresses Loyola grads

Mitchell urges pursuit of peace at commencement

May 19, 2002|By Nora Achrati | Nora Achrati,SUN STAFF

Loyola College of Maryland awarded degrees to 836 undergraduate students, 921 graduate students and a famed diplomat at its 150th commencement exercises yesterday.

Former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell received an honorary doctoral degree at the Baltimore Arena, where he spoke to the Class of 2002.

The 68-year-old diplomat, whose work in Northern Ireland led to the 1998 Good Friday peace agreements, accepted Loyola's green-and-white cowl and offered wisdom, inspiration and humor to graduates and his fellow honorees.

Drawing on stories from his travels, he told the crowd of 12,000 about a young Irish student struggling to pass exams last winter. The student wrote as his answer to the last exam question, "God alone knows the answer to this question. Merry Christmas."

"A week later," Mitchell said, "he got his paper back and the professor had written, `God gets an A. You fail. Happy New Year.'"

"Your exams are behind you, but your life is stretched before you," Mitchell said and urged the students to pursue lives of service and humanitarian work.

He called on graduates to actively support sound policies in education, health care and the environment.

"You must stand up and speak out against all forms of discrimination and injustice," he said, receiving enthusiastic applause in response.

He spoke of the challenges of forging peace on an international, national and local scale.

"The making of peace is a never-ending process," he said. "Every person in this nation has an obligation to positive duty."

Mitchell, a 1954 graduate of Maine's Bowdoin College, is the author of four books and chairman of an international committee to examine the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As a speaker, he embodied what the Rev. Harold Ridley, Loyola's president, called the "Ignatian ideal to be a person for others."

The Catholic university, named for founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius Loyola, was established in 1852 and operates under the motto "Strong truths well lived." The commencement ceremony honored several members of the college and Baltimore community for service and achievement.

Baltimore television pioneer and veteran of ABC's Wide World of Sports James K. McManus - known professionally as Jim McKay - was honored by the college with the Carroll Medal. McManus was president of Loyola's Class of 1943.

Baltimore's Mother Seton Academy, a Catholic middle school for children from low-income families, was given the Milch Award for its service to the community.

In other commencement exercises yesterday, Salisbury University graduated the largest class in its history at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury.

Among the 1,054 graduating students was 79-year-old Pearline Mitchell of Quantico, the oldest person to graduate from the university, who received a bachelor's degree in English.

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