LETTERS TO THE CLASS OF 2011
Commencement always stands at the intersection of the past and the future. We honor the 50th reunion class for all they have accomplished in their lives. For the undergraduate and graduate students who will receive their degrees, it marks the joyful culmination of years of toil, now completed. At the same time, we gather not simply to recognize what has been done, but to look ahead to an infinite number of new possibilities, just beginning.
This year, as we conclude our semester-long MIT150 celebration, the entire Institute community joins you in this moment of reflection. For 150 days, we have marveled at the astonishing array of inventions, innovations, and ideas that MIT has contributed to world. Now, we turn our gaze ahead to await, with excitement and hope, what our students, faculty, and alumni may accomplish in the days and years to come.
This weekend, you take a new place in that Institute family and its history. The MIT community is never limited to who is on campus at any single moment. Instead, it extends through time and around the world to embrace every person who understands the privilege and responsibility of learning here. As you start your next chapter in life, let the vitality of the MIT150 events and celebrations be your guide: make your way forward armed with this community’s incomparable passion for discovery, spirit of service, and abiding commitment to the betterment of humankind.
On behalf of everyone in Student Life at MIT, I congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you well wherever your education and inspiration takes you.
Chris Colombo Dean for Student Life
Congratulations on graduating in this year of MIT’s 150th birthday celebration. While MIT has been reflecting on what it has accomplished over the past 150 years, you have also accomplished a great deal. You have completed a rigorous, analytically driven education that has exposed you to great humanities and first-rank science and technology. In the process, you have learned how to think more critically and how to perform under extreme time pressure. In addition to the specific disciplinary knowledge you have acquired, you will find these skills to be of great value in your future career trajectory. You are positioned to do well in the global economy. I think of your development as one of MIT’s greatest accomplishments. For 150 years, we have been educating men and women who have gone on to innovate in America and the world. I know you will continue this legacy of innovation, and through your achievements, the world will be a better place.
Daniel E. Hastings PhD ’80 Dean for Undergraduate Education
The Class of 2011 has known since they were freshmen that they are the “sesquicentennial class,” and that MIT’s 150th celebrations would culminate at their commencement. Representatives from the class have participated at all stages in planning for the 150th events and have contributed in myriad ways to the celebrations, for which we are deeply grateful.
The 150 days of the celebration began in January with the 150 Objects exhibit at the MIT museum. Eight hundred people showed up. The MIT150 started with a bang, and we were in for something special.
The past five months have repeated that scene at the museum in numerous variations. A series of six symposia brought intellectual luminaries from MIT and around the world to debate the futures of science, technology, and research: from economics to cancer, from women’s leadership to MIT astronauts, from the future of the web to the synthesis of linguistics, AI, and cognitive science.
On April 10, MIT’s actual birthday, MIT convened the Next Century Convocation to recognize the moment and look forward to the future. Eight thousand people joined MIT student leaders, musicians, administrators, and alumni as they celebrated and reaffirmed their commitment to MIT’s founding principles.
At the end of April, 20,000 people came to campus for the MIT Open House. The campus was electric and intense, showing Cambridge, Boston, and Massachusetts an MIT that is open, generous, and, of course, very exciting. The crowds returned for two late-nights in May for the Fast Light festival, the culmination of the Festival of Art, Science, and Technology (FAST) that had been convening remarkable, unique arts events all term. All this among other events too numerous to list here …
Congratulations to the Sesquicentennial Class of 2011 for your proud contributions to MIT’s history and to its future!
David A. Mindell PhD ’96 Chair, MIT 150 Steering Committee
I wish to extend my warmest congratulations to those of you graduating this year. Your intellectual fortitude has brought you past significant challenges in the pursuit of your studies. I do not doubt that your MIT experience has been a transformative one and that you have honed a skill set that goes beyond research techniques to include communication, collaboration, and tenacity.
More than this, though, I believe that you have learned to ask the tough questions, to challenge the current paradigm. You have worked to see the broad context, connect the dots, and unlock your imagination. As you progress down whatever path you have chosen, whether in academia, industry, or public service, I urge you to continue to reach beyond your field, connect further than your colleagues down the hall, break down barriers of legacy, and travel across national boundaries. Your mental rigor and boldness will shape the future of academia, the vitality of our country, and the health of our planet.
And along the way, do not forget the relationships you have established here; these individuals will become lifelong mentors and colleagues. Nurture them, and sustain your connection to MIT. The Institute is honored to have been your intellectual home.
Christine Ortiz Dean for Graduate Education