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Friday, May 22, 2009


Yesterday, for the first time, I attended graduation at University of the Arts, where I have taught part-time for the past nine years. I got big hugs from the students I threatened to fail not that long ago, when their papers were perilously late. I watched a few receive diplomas for whom I know it was a particularly difficult journey, like one who had to leave as a freshman six years ago because of money and another whose mother died during finals a few weeks ago. I was sitting next to a good friend, which made it less embarrassing during the many moments I got teary.

University President Sean Buffington gave a speech on the importance of “nerve” for artists and human beings generally that spoke to my condition as a writer. The main commencement address was delivered by Tony award-winning playwright James Lapine, who wrote a play for the occasion, a two-act conversation between Senator Diane Feinstein and her imaginary son on his decision to attend University of the Arts, rather than Princeton or Stanford. It was funny, politically astute, and I suspect more memorable than the address by Katherine Graham at my own commencement.

On the whole, I left the graduation with a spring in my step, not so much as the graduate pictured on the middle of Broad Street, but still feeling inspired to greater nerve and creativity.

(Apologies to the photographer, whom I can’t credit because they weren’t credited on the UArts site.)


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