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Brokaw Outlines Challenges and Rewards Waiting for Class of 2009


Broadcast veteran Tom Brokaw called on the Class of 2009 to underpin their lives with sound values and an eye for proportion.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Fordham conferred bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees upon roughly 3,200 students in fields ranging from anthropology to social work.
Photo by Chris Taggart

“We have not given you a perfect world, but we have instead given you dynamic opportunities for leaving a lasting, enduring legacy as a generation that proved to be fearless and imaginative, tireless and selfless in pursuit of solutions to these monumental problems, a generation that emerged from this financial tsunami and rebuilt the landscape of their lives with an underpinning of sound values and an eye for proportion, knowing that in fact less can be more.”

That was former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, addressing Fordham’s Class of 2009 at the University’s 164th Commencement at Rose Hill on May 16. Brokaw, who has covered his share of turmoil in 47 years of journalism, told the new graduates that “it will not be easy, but I promise you it will be rewarding in ways that a Wall Street bonus or a shot on American Idol cannot compete.”

More than 16,000 graduates, family, friends, faculty and staff members packed Edwards Parade under cloudy skies, and gave Brokaw rousing cheers at every full stop.

Fordham conferred a doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa, upon Brokaw, and likewise conferred honorary degrees upon Hon. Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the City of New York; Justin Lin, chief economist of the World Bank;Frank J. Macchiarola, former chairman of the New York City Charter Revision Commission; and Kathryn Wylde, chief executive officer of the Partnership for New York City.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, told the happy crowd, “Members of the Class of 2009, this is above all your day. This is the day on which we celebrate you. We celebrate hopes that have been realized, dreams that have come true, loves that have blossomed and lives that have been changed—changed utterly.”

Father McShane noted that the University has honored presidents, cardinals, foreign ministers and other dignitaries on Edwards Parade. “Today, it honors you on the same site. …You too are our heroes. You too are worthy of praise. You too. U2. You knew that was coming,” he said, provoking a roar of approval with the reference to the Irish rock band that had occupied the same spot on Keating steps in March.

Mayor Bloomberg got his share of cheers and applause in his brief address to the Class of 2009, when he imparted some serious advice, couched as humor.

“I am not going to tell you right here the secrets to success, although it never hurts to be the first one into the office each morning and the last one to leave. I am not going to tell you how to choose a career, but it doesn’t hurt to pick that first job based on how much you’ll learn, not how much you’ll earn. I’m not going to tell you how to avoid getting fired, because I have been fired, and it was the best thing that ever happened to my career,” Bloomberg said. “I am not going to tell you how to spend your free time, but there’s nothing more important than giving back to your community.”

The University conferred bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees upon roughly 3,200 students in fields ranging from anthropology to social work. Including students who graduated in August 2008 and February 2009, Fordham conferred approximately 4,400 academic degrees.

Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City public school system, received a doctorate of laws,honoris causa, on May 17 at Fordham Law School’s diploma ceremony. Joe Moglia (FCRH ’71), chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade, received a doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa, on May 19 at the Graduate School of Business Administration’s diploma ceremony.

In addition, Mindy Fullilove, M.D., professor of clinical psychiatry and clinical sociomedical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center, delivered the keynote on May 21 at the diploma ceremony for the Graduate School of Social Service.


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