World-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin delivered the Commencement Address to the Class of 2019 and the more than 3,000 family members, friends and guests in attendance. The College also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Sister Elizabeth Michaels '46, SNDdeN, who served on the faculty at Emmanuel for 40 years.
"I hope that in all your endeavors you will hold true to [your] courageous spirit, and to the ethos of this College community," said Emmanuel President Sister Janet Eisner, SNDdeN in her remarks. "More than ever, the world needs the light of those who question, who create, and who consistently look beyond themselves to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world for all."
Goodwin spoke of her experiences in her five-decade long career as a presidential historian and author and brought forth stories of the trials and triumphs of the four presidents featured in her latest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. She shared insights on the qualities that built true and effective leaders in history, and noted how those same attributes transcend to the emerging leaders of today.
Goodwin began her address by referencing her visit to Emmanuel in 1989 to receive an honorary degree, remarking on how significantly the world has changed since, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the invention of the World Wide Web. She also reflected on local changes, namely the College's growth in enrollment and now coeducational student body, and the Boston Red Sox, of which she is an avid fan, winning not one but four championships after an 86-year dry spell.
"Throughout these 30 years there have been two constants: Emmanuel's commitment to social justice and community, and the outstanding leadership of Sister Janet Eisner, who exemplifies everything that makes a good leader: humility, empathy, resilience, collaboration, compromise, and stability—how we yearn for such qualities in our country today," said Goodwin.
Rounding out her address to the Class of 2019, Goodwin noted evidence of outstanding leadership qualities in the budding public servants of tomorrow, and shared that she felt encouraged by the United States' recent midterm election, namely the burst of citizen activism, the record number of women running for the first time, the number of young voters, and veteran participation being the largest in many years.
"Each generation has their rendezvous with destiny," Goodwin said. "This generation's is to expand social and economic justice, combat climate change, reform our political system, fight against racism and sexism, and heal our divisions. It is a challenging but exciting time. How I wish I was your age once again."
During the ceremony, the College bestowed an honorary degree upon Professor Emerita of Mathematics Sister Elizabeth Michaels '46, SNDdeN, for her indelible mark on both Emmanuel's mathematics curriculum and the enduring difference she has made to generations of Emmanuel graduates and to communities across the globe.
As noted in her citation, shared by Sr. Janet, "As a faculty member at Emmanuel, you not only demonstrated a mastery of your discipline; you also awakened new avenues of intellectual curiosity among your students. From you they learned to see beyond theorems and formulae and to recognize the order, elegance and relevance of mathematics."
"Tomorrow you will leave Emmanuel and take with you the many gifts—intellectual, social, spiritual—that you have received here," Sr. Elizabeth said to the Class of 2019.
Professor Mary Hines '66, who retired following the academic year, was bestowed the title of Professor Emeritus of Theology for her more than 20 years of service to Emmanuel College. The ceremony also included remarks from graduates Tatiana Havens '19 and Melina Langweiler G'19, who delivered messages of determination and triumph, with special emphasis on the initiative and perseverance needed to build a better future.