Dean Ellwood Pays Tribute to the HKS Graduating Class of 2013

May 30, 2013
by Doug Gavel

Invoking the themes of staying true to first principles and working across ideological divides, Dean David T. Ellwood paid tribute Thursday (May 30) to the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) graduating class of 2013 during diploma ceremonies at JFK Memorial Park.

“Today we once again pass the torch to a new generation and it’s all of you,” Ellwood said. “So grab that torch and run. You may not know how to get to the top of the mountaintop yet, but I’m sure you know which way is uphill and we look forward to following you.”

Ellwood thanked the graduates for their hard work and commitment to public service. And he urged them to confront the many challenges they face – including climate change, entrenched poverty, inequality, biomedical revolutions, corruption, pandemics, nationalism, racism and partisan inaction – with courage and commitment.

“Times of challenge and change are very kind to the young because it is the young at heart who can replace the old order which is stuck and doesn’t work,” he said, “and [you are] the innovators that can combine talent and drive and transform the world.”

Referencing the voices he heard while serving in government, Ellwood urged the graduates to listen to their own inner voices as they navigate the roads that lie ahead.

“All of you asked what you could do because of some voice, some injustice, some image, some inspiration. I so deeply hope you still hear that voice, and I very much hope that that voice was amplified, not suppressed, by your time here at the Kennedy School,” he said.

Ellwood also challenged the graduates to remain receptive to ideas and opinions different than their own.

“Somehow or another one has to find a link to your common humanity, to find that some way you can work together even with those whom you may disagree,” he said.

As he concluded his remarks, the dean told the Class of 2013, “We are counting on you; we will follow you up any mountain; we will take pride in all you do.”

The diploma ceremony followed the Morning Exercises in Harvard Yard during which graduates from Harvard College and all of the university graduate schools were honored.

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HKS graduates

HKS graduates hold their globes during the Morning Exercises in Harvard Yard
Photo Credits: John Mottern

“Times of challenge and change are very kind to the young because it is the young at heart who can replace the old order which is stuck and doesn’t work,” Ellwood said, “and [you are] the innovators that can combine talent and drive and transform the world.”

Dean Ellwood at diploma ceremony

Dean Ellwood (r) on the dais during the diploma ceremony