I am delighted to welcome to Geneva and to our Hobart and William Smith community singer, songwriter, advocate and activist, Judy Collins. Indeed, it is a personal pleasure to welcome Judy and her accomplished husband, Louis Nelson, who is with us today, as they have been my valued friends for several years.
In selecting a Baccalaureate speaker, Chaplain Adams and I wished to have an individual who could share her beliefs on the importance of this moment in our graduating seniors' lives and through words as well as the speaker's individual life story could inspire and challenge all of us.
I believe we have such a speaker today.
Judy Collins' accomplishments are many: Grammy nominations, film awards, gold and platinum status for her work. Her creativity in musical production is widely celebrated.
After Commencement Ms. Collins begins a concert tour over the next several months in 12 states including Carnegie Hall in New York City, Symphony Hall in Boston and Wolf Trap in Washington D.C. And, after tomorrow with honorary degree in hand, we assume she will be introduced as Dr. Judy Collins, Honorary Degree recipient at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.
But what I thought was important for today is the lesson that Judy Collins offers of how we blend service and advocacy and the courage of our convictions into a highly successful profession life. How one integrates your civic engagement with the demands of career, family and friends. I know Judy Collins to be a woman who stands up for her convictions.
Harold Kushner has observed that, "sometimes the problem we face in our struggle to be good people is not so much a matter of doing what is right, as of choosing between two rights. The hardest choices you may have to make will not be between good and evil, but between good and good. You will find yourselves able to do something you feel is right and good only by sacrificing an equally good and right goal. It is not only a matter of time pressure: If you give blood or serve on the local school board, that's time you can't spend with your family. It is something that happens when two values we believe in come into conflict and we have to deny one to affirm the other." (Kushner, p. 60)
Of course there are no easy answers to these weighty questions and issues, but in word and in deed, Judy Collins has spent a lifetime advocating for issues she believes in and has time and again demonstrated her commitment. UNICEF, landmine awareness, Amnesty International all benefit from her passionate drive to make a difference. She has used her celebrity for good works.
Judy Collins has taken to heart the words of Margaret Meade, a recipient of the Hobart and William Smith Elizabeth Blackwell Award, who advised us never to "doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Ladies and Gentlemen--our 2002 Baccalaureate Speaker, Judy Collins.
Introduction of Baccalaureate Speaker Judy Collins
May 11, 2002