Fletcher Features

The Fletcher School’s 80th Commencement: A Weekend of Celebration and Bittersweet Farewells

Commencement 2013 marked Fletcher’s 80th Commencement, and the end of tenure for Fletcher Dean Stephen W. Bosworth.

Basking in the sunlight of a gorgeous spring weekend, The Fletcher School’s newest graduates passed their tassels from one side to the other and prepared to set out to better the world. 

On Saturday, May 18, Fletcher celebrated its 10th annual Class Day, which included remarks and awards, as well as songs from the School’s a cappella group, the “Ambassachords.”

Dean Bosworth welcomed the students and their families, members of the Board of Overseers and the visiting alumni, which spanned the classes of 1968 through 2008. Paulo Bilyk (F92), Chief Investment Officer and Founding Partner of Rio Bravo Investments and a member of the Fletcher Board since 2008, then took the stage to give the alumni greeting.

Mr. Bilyk affectionately called his alma mater a “romantic school of law and diplomacy,” where he learned the value of broad intellectual curiosity and of the discipline of writing—a skill he built at Fletcher that has served him throughout his professional life. He acknowledged Professor Alan Henrikson as a key player in the development of his writing.

“Professor Henrikson spent time on our papers and offered detailed advice on the development of ideas, wording, spelling, punctuation and the correct form of footnoting,” Bilyk said of Henrikson’s remarkable dedication to his students. “I take him as an emblem for which this whole place stands.”

Bilyk also reminded the graduates that their farewell is merely physical; Fletcher will remain ingrained in the hearts and thus the actions of its graduates. 

Several awards and prizes were conferred on Class Day, including:

  • The Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy, awarded to Gloria Berbena, United States Public Affairs Officer
  • The Robert B. Stewart Prize for an Outstanding First-Year Student, awarded to Ekaterina Fedosova
  • The Edmund A. Gullion Prize for an Outstanding Second-Year Student, awarded to Emily Simon and Kirk Bansak
  • The Leo Gross Law Prize for an Outstanding Student of International Law, awarded to Arun Mohan Sukumar
  • The Peter Ackerman Award for the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, awarded to Courtney Richardson.

Following the awards, Bikka Mitya and Blake Narendra, co-chairs of the Class Gift Committee, presented a check in the amount of $7,790.16 to G. Richard Thoman, Chairman of the Board. These funds, raised by members of the Class of 2013, will go toward supporting future Fletcher students.

Ending his tenure as Dean of The Fletcher School, Bosworth stood to conclude Class Day with reflections on his career in diplomacy and his time at the School. He strung a narrative of his unpredictable but rewarding career path, explaining that he did not have a specific plan and that graduates must learn to appreciate the reality of delayed gratification: “to sow today and reap tomorrow.” In describing his personal experiences in diplomacy, he spoke about the challenge of “finding the right role for ourselves in a world that keeps shifting” and taking on “the burden as active citizens in the U.S. or abroad.”

In his reflections on Fletcher and his advice for the future of the School, Dean Bosworth remarked that Fletcher attracts outstanding faculty, which are the backbone of this institution, but that it is the quality of the students that draws the faculty to Fletcher: “What we are, we are because of the students.”

On Sunday, May 19, the official Fletcher ceremony took place following the University-wide Commencement held earlier in the morning. 

After providing opening remarks, Dean Bosworth was honored with the presentation of the Dean Emeritus Certificate by Tufts University Provost David Harris. This award, only given to two previous Fletcher deans, was bestowed upon Dean Bosworth in recognition of his extraordinary service to the School and to the nation. Provost Harris noted Dean Bosworth’s appointment as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy for two years during his deanship at Fletcher. The school’s interminable respect for Dean Bosworth’s leadership, at home and abroad, was palpable throughout the weekend.

Following the Dean Emeritus induction was the presentation of the 22nd annual James L. Paddock award for excellence in teaching, the recipient of which is annually nominated and selected by Fletcher students. This year’s award was given to Carolyn Gideon, Assistant Professor of International Communication and Technology Policy. She is also the director of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs. Lulu Cheng, a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) graduate, presented the award and highlighted Professor Gideon’s strengths in motivating, supporting and challenging her students.

Professor Gideon spoke about how her students have taught her the meaning of community and courage. She shared with the audience how moving it was for her to teach individuals who have had such varied and challenging past experiences including war, strife and conflict.  She credited her students as her “greatest source of hope for the world.”  

Professor Gideon left the graduates with a quote from A.A. Milne: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Representatives from the Class of 2013 also took to the podium and highlighted the inclusive and supportive Fletcher community.

Joon Kim, a MALD graduate originally from South Korea, conveyed the challenges faced by a foreign student trying to adapt to the American education system. He expressed his appreciation for the support of his classmates and professors, calling the Fletcher culture a “shared spirit of collaboration.” 

These sentiments were echoed by fellow MALD graduate, Valerie Ullrich, who spoke about how Fletcher fosters the quality of empathy, which is evermore needed in the world. She urged her classmates to take those lessons with them wherever they go.

Fletcher’s 80th Commencement came to a close with the conferral of degrees and acknowledgement and gratitude to families and friends for their support. As he bid farewell, Dean Bosworth affirmed his confidence in the School’s future, stating that if Fletcher continues to attract students of this caliber, “Fletcher does not need luck.” 

-- Julia Price Radice, MALD 2014 candidate

Photo 1 from left to right: Nadja Skaljic and Bikka Mitya (Class of 2013)
Photo 2 from left to right: David R. Harris (Provost & Senior Vice President, Tufts University) and Stephen W. Bosworth (Dean, The Fletcher School)

Photos: Ed Malitsky Photography
Video: Gino Beniamino