ROCHESTER, N.Y.—The growing interconnections of a flattening world bring both opportunities and threats that require collaboration across borders and disciplines, Shirley Ann Jackson told graduates at the University of Rochester's commencement on Sunday, May 20.
Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., delivered the commencement address and received the honorary degree Doctor of Science.
Offering as an example the disappearance of millions of honeybees around the world, a phenomenon that can affect agricultural production and, in turn, national and global economies, Jackson noted that the problem also offers opportunities for cooperation across national boundaries in research and policy development.
"Every discipline has a role to play in finding solutions to global challenges and in creating opportunity," Jackson said. "But this requires not only strength and discipline, but that you have multicultural sophistication and understanding, intellectual agility and a global view, which means that you are able to embrace diverse cultures."
During its 157th commencement ceremony, the University of Rochester also presented the honorary degree Doctor of Laws to B. Thomas Golisano, chair and founder of Paychex, a national provider of payroll and human resources services, and to Robert Solow, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.
Golisano was honored for his business and civic leadership and his philanthropy. Since starting Paychex in 1971, Golisano has overseen the company as it regularly earns awards for its training programs, shareholder value, and executive leadership. In addition, Paychex has been named four times by Fortune magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For." As a philanthropist, Golisano has made numerous multimillion dollar gifts in support of schools, health care and human service organizations, and medical institutions.
In his remarks, Golisano emphasized how each day not only is different but can make a difference, saying, "I look out into the audience and I realize I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the United States of America. I see a level of achievement and accomplishment that is endless, and for many of you, just beginning."
Solow, who is currently Institute Professor, Emeritus, and Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is known for his analysis of factors contributing to economic growth. In the 1960s, his studies helped persuade governments to channel funds into technological research and development to spur economic growth. A former senior economist with President John F. Kennedy's Council of Economic Advisors, Solow also served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
In the 1950s, Solow had recommended faculty for the University's economics department, including Lionel McKenzie, now known internationally as the architect of general equilibrium theory. Solow said he was pleased to have made a contribution to the department, praising the high quality and originality of the department's work.
The ceremony also featured the presentation of the Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Medal to Edmund Hajim, chairman and CEO of the investment firm MLH Capital, L.L.C. The award is the highest honor given to an alumnus for outstanding achievements and service. Hajim has held senior positions at a number of investment firms, including Lehman Brothers, Furman Selz, and ING, while serving with such organizations as the Ocean Reef Foundation in Florida and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
Hajim shared his "building blocks" for success—the Golden Rule, education, a life partner and friends, and balance in family, work, and play—while noting that the secret to success is believing in oneself. Hajim received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University in 1958 and earned an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School in 1964.
Though cloudy skies darkened as the morning progressed, the rain held off until after the 9 a.m. ceremony and family picture-taking opportunities had finished. More than 5,000 guests filled the Eastman Quadrangle on the University's River Campus for the event.
The morning ceremony was for the 1,101 candidates for bachelor's and master's degrees in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. This year, the University of Rochester is conferring a total of 2,402 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in all its divisions, which also include the Eastman School of Music, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, School of Nursing, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration.