Greg Kessler addresses the audience

Photographer: Scotty Hall


Doctorate recipient Shirley Acquah chats with her dissertation director Christina Beck

Photographer: Scotty Hall

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Graduate commencement speaker says work together and explore new cultures

Creative Writing professor named 2011 Distinguished Professor

More than 800 Ohio University students were conferred graduate degrees during the annual graduate commencement ceremony Friday in the Convocation Center.

Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis commended each graduate on the personal milestone, whether they took a traditional or non-traditional approach to beginning their graduate studies.

"Regardless of your approach, your graduation truly represents what lives in you – passion, determination and hope brought you to this moment," McDavis said. "Whatever your path, each of you has brought unique characteristics and special talents to Ohio University and you have made our University richer by your presence."

The ceremony marked the first time that degrees have been conferred by Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, which was established in April 2007.

An address to remember

In his commencement address, the 2010 Outstanding Graduate Faculty Greg Kessler focused on the value of collaboration. Kessler is an assistant professor of computer assisted language learning and director of the Language Resource Center in the Department of Linguistics.

Kessler told the audience that it was difficult to give a commencement speech as a linguistics professor, so he turned it into a research project.

"Honestly, it is difficult for me to conjure up the pretense that I am privy to any enlightened bit of advice that will help to guide any one of you as you enter into the next phase of your life," he said. "I can only reflect on my own research, which is focused upon the collaborative and constructive use of language and technology."

Kessler said the idea of collaborative construction relies on the understanding that when we work together, we are at our best. 

"Computer-mediated communication, social networking and cloud computing technology offer us ever expanding opportunities to do amazing things together," Kessler said.

He advised graduates to increase their knowledge about the world, enhance their social activities, increase their cultural awareness, and support social justice projects and the emerging area of liberation technology.

"An example of the power of many working together is Wikipedia. It is seen as a superior source of information due to its collaborative development," Kessler said.

He also gave the example of relief workers around the world hastily contributing to the construction of GPS mapping systems that helped locate earthquake victims in Haiti, despite the country's inferior infrastructure.

Kessler also urged the graduates to explore new cultures because it is important that people understand one another.

"I encourage you to think of yourself as a member of the human family and learn other cultures, learn a new language, travel to new places and engage in the great intercultural adventure," he said.

In closing, Kessler told the graduates to Google out of curiosity, tweet their passions, Facebook community-building solutions and share their findings with a larger community.

"Whatever you do, be constructive, be conscious and be kind," he said.

Faculty recognitions

During the ceremony, McDavis bestowed the 2011 Distinguished Professor Award on Mark Halliday, a professor in the Department of English's Creative Writing program. The prestigious award was established in 1959 and recognizes scholarly accomplishment, professional reputation and contribution to the University.

Halliday's work has been recognized with a Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Foundation Writer's Award, and he is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.   

McDavis also extended heartfelt thanks to outgoing Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Rathindra Bose for his dedicated service to the University.

Bose recently accepted the roles of Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer for the University of Houston System and Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer for the University of Houston.

McDavis said Bose has enhanced and elevated the OHIO mission and national profile through his leadership.

"His leadership of our research, creative activity and technology transfer initiatives has resulted in increased external funding and new partnerships for the University," McDavis said.