p. Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) praised the College for its dedication to public education and talked about the challenges of future American generations at the College’s Charter Day celebration Saturday, the 314th anniversary of the College.
p. “Public education has been a cornerstone of success in America,” Hagel told the audience in Phi Beta Kappa Hall. “It would not be sensational hyperbole to suggest that started here.”
p. In addition to using his speech to reflect on the College’s longstanding academic tradition, Hagel talked about the 400th anniversary at Jamestown.
p. “Through it all, what was begun at Jamestown allowed us to develop into the greatest democracy the world has ever known,” he said. “It has been our cultural character that has seen us through.”
p. Hagel said that the challenges that future Americans will face are complex and can no longer be separated into domestic and foreign policy. He cautioned the audience not to think of public policy as a “vacuum” but rather a series of interconnected issues.
p. “America must build and sustain a new international relationship with a new international generation,” he added. He said that he placed faith in the new generation as a force for change. “If we fail, our children and grandchildren will be left with a much more dangerous world.”
p. Hagel has received notoriety recently for his critical views on the way President George W. Bush is handling the Iraq War. He was one of the first Republicans to criticize Bush for his foreign policy, and remains one of the administration’s strongest foreign policy critics. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2008, but he currently ranks near the bottom of polls.
p. Hagel told the students in the audience that they were part of the next generation and they should be prepared to face new and different challenges in the coming future. “There is much uncertainty ahead, but I know that William and Mary has prepared you well,” he said.
p. He closed the speech by telling the audience that he believed America could meet the challenges ahead.
p. “We find ways in American to divide ourselves,” he said. “But [there is] a soaring spirit of humanity and decency that Americans share. We can be divided in many ways but in the end we are all Americans…America will meet the challenges ahead. Our strength is our people. We must never forget that our greatest responsibility is to help make a better world.”
p. Hagel received an honorary doctorate of public service from the College. Other honorary doctorate recipients were Alfred Marshall Acuff, Jr., ’62, a former Board of Visitors rector, who received an honorary doctorate of humane letters and JoAnn Falletta, who received an honorary doctorate of arts.
p. In addition to the honorary doctorate recipients, several staff, students and alumni were recognized at the Charter Day ceremony. Sociology Professor Kathleen Slevin was given the Thomas Jefferson Award.
p. The Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award was presented to Associate Professor of Mathematics, Vladimir Bolotnikov.
p. Two students received awards at the ceremony. Senior Kendra Letchwork received the Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy for work she has done with the College’s physics department.
p. The James Monroe Prize in civic leadership went to senior Cosmo Fujiyama. Fujiyama received the award for her service work and international study. Fujiyama is the founder of the group Students Helping Honduras, which began as a fundraising campaign she started to save an orphanage in the country.
p. In addition, College President Gene Nichol began a new Charter Day tradition of presenting on stage the recipients of the alumni medallion. There were five alumni who received the honor this year, Constance Warren Desaulniers,’75, Thomas P. Hollowell, MLT ’69, former BOV Rector Susan Aheron Magill, ’72, Theresa Thompson,’67, and Winfred O’Neil Ward, ’54.