Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer ’81 delivered the keynote address at the College of William and Mary’s commencement ceremony Sunday.
Romer is one of the College’s more distinguished, currently serving as the top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. She received an honorary doctorate in public service at the event.
“My years at William and Mary went by so fast,” Romer said. “One amazing class in a new subject, some special professor, an all-night discussion with a roommate and you finally realize what you love and what you want be when you grow up.”
1,882 graduate and undergraduate degrees were awarded at the ceremony, at which College President Taylor Reveley, Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor and Joshua Andrew Goldman ’10 also spoke.
Romer took the opportunity to explain the current administration’s economic policy through the lens of the Great Depression. An economics and history major at the College, Romer is considered an expert of economic crises.
In her speech, Romer discussed how the administration’s approach to economic policy was shaped by the New Deal, albeit with a more targeted approach in stimulating private industry.
“Although at a philosophical level there are parallels in the responses to the Great Recession and the Great Depression, at a practical level they are very different,” she said. “Ours is not the New Deal repeated, but new policies for a new century.”
The speech was in many respects a defense of the President’s economic policies, and a discussion about how history can be used to craft future policy.
“We have learned from you this morning, and we are very proud of you,” Reveley said of Romer’s speech.
Along with Romer, former Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neil and noted author and historian Annette Gordon-Reed also received honorary doctorates from the College.
Goldman, the student commencement speaker, spoke on the variety of experiences that he said make being a student at the College unique, and managed to elicit a “quack” chant from the audience, in the style of Emilio Estevez in “The Mighty Ducks.”
“We all share a common thread that will last beyond our time at the College,” Goldman said. “We have memories and experiences that others do not have.”
Several students, staff and faculty were recognized at the event, including the winners of the Lord Botetourt Medal, the James Frederic Carr Memorial Cup, the Thatcher Price for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Study, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the Thomas Ashely Graves, Jr. Award, and the Charles Joseph Duke, Jr. and Virginia Welton Duke Award.
Kira Allman ’10, who received a Rhodes Scholarship earlier this year, was acknowledged. She was one of three students in the graduating class of 2010 who received a cumulative GPA of 4.0.
In the ceremony’s closing remarks, Reveley highlighted some of the year’s most notable events, including the football team’s upset victory at the University of Virginia, and the men’s basketball team’s appearance in the NIT.
“A great year too for many other Tribe teams, one of the best in our athletic history,” he said. “All the while our athletes were students too, amassing academic honors and graduating on time. William and Mary does intercollegiate athletics the right way.”
Newly elected Williamsburg City Council member Scott Foster ’10, Tribal Fever and Chase Hathaway ’10 also received a shout-out from Reveley.
“Chase Hathaway, you have taught us what a man with a towel can do. And Scott Foster, you’ve shown us what a man with a mission can accomplish,” he said. “Class of 2010, you are a vital and cherished part of the College of William and Mary for the rest of your lives, not just during the time you spent on campus, not just today.”