Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at SMU’s Commencement on Saturday, told the graduates that as educated persons they have a responsibility to commit themselves to reason and the pursuit of truth.
“You’ve been encouraged to know that reason and faith are not enemies of one another, but together permit the fullest expression of what it is to be human,” she said. “This experience will sustain you for the rest of your lives.”
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> Watch Condoleezza Rice’s Commencement address at SMU
> Read a transcript of Condoleezza Rice’s address.
> Read more from SMU News, including a spotlight on graduating students
She told the 2,100 graduates, their families and friends at Moody Coliseum that education “is a force that erases arbitrary divisions of race and class and culture, and unlocks every person’s potential. … Education is transformative. It literally changes lives. That is why people work so hard to become educated. And that is why education has always been the key to human beings and their dreams.”
Rice, who received an honorary degree during the ceremonies, said, “No one should assume that a life of reason is easy. To the contrary, it takes a great deal of courage and honesty. For the only way you will grow intellectually is by constantly examining your opinions, attacking your prejudices, and completing your journey toward the force of reason.”
The weekend’s activities included the Baccalaureate service Friday, May 11, with guest speaker Richard J. Wood, dean emeritus of Yale University Divinity School and former president of Earlham College.
The service was followed by Rotunda Recessional, a tradition in which seniors march through the Rotunda of Dallas Hall, marking the end of their undergraduate years and the beginning of their lifelong association with SMU as alumni.
Read more about honorary degree recipients Condoleezza Rice and philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright after the jump.
Rice has achieved prominence in both government service and higher education. She currently holds three positions at Stanford University: professor of political economy in the Graduate School of Business, Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science.
Rice earned her Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Denver, a Master’s from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her academic career began in 1981 when she joined the Stanford faculty. A dedicated teacher, she has received two of the university’s highest teaching awards. She rose through the faculty ranks to serve as Stanford provost from 1993-99, the first woman and first African-American to hold that position.
Rice served for two years on the National Security Council staff under President George H.W. Bush. She was the president’s special assistant for national security affairs during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and reunification of Germany. She served on the staff of President George W. Bush as national security adviser from 2001-05. She then served from 2005-09 as the nation’s 66th secretary of state, the second woman and the first African-American woman to hold the post. Rice currently serves as chair of the Board of Advisers of the Bush Institute, part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU campus.
During the Commencement ceremony, SMU conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon Nancy Cartwright, considered one of the most important and influential contemporary philosophers of science.
Cartwright is a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics. The author of seven books, she has produced path-breaking work on issues such as the nature of physical laws, causation and scientific reasoning. She is a pioneer of today’s practice-based philosophy of science and helped develop the philosophy of social policy, economics, sociology, medicine, epidemiology and political science.
Cartwright is a Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina) and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.