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Commencement Speakers Encourage Students to Stay Connected, Keep Focused on Work

Graphic designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and painter William H. Bailey speak at two separate commencement ceremonies

Posted 05.14.12 by mica communications

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President Fred Lazarus IV at Graduate Commencement.

BALTIMORE—More than 550 undergraduate and graduate students received degrees at the College's 163rd Commencement, which included two ceremonies: the first ever Graduate Commencement and the Undergraduate Commencement.

President Fred Lazarus IV opened the ceremonies on Friday, May 11 at Graduate Commencement, which took place in Brown Center's Falvey Hall. "What an honor it is to have the first ever Graduate Commencement at MICA," Lazarus said during his welcome. He went on to tell degree candidates: "You have contributed to making this one of the best colleges in the world."

Provost Ray Allen also applauded graduates, telling them to "look at their life as their next work of art."

Graduate Commencement speaker Sheila Levrant de Bretteville took the stage to a standing ovation. During her speech, Levrant de Bretteville told the audience she "didn't hesitate for a second" at the chance to speak on the importance of graduate studies. Throughout her remarks, she spoke of lasting connections that sustained her in her work, encouraging graduates to remember that their peers are some of the most important connections they will make. She told students, "Each of you already represents success... you are receiving degrees and no longer can think you arrived here by luck or by mistake." Later, as Director of M.F.A. in Graphic Design Ellen Lupton presented Levrant de Bretteville with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, she noted the designer has "impacted virtually every area of the design arena." Levrant de Bretteville is the director of the graduate program in graphic design at Yale University whose work reflects on issues ranging from feminist principles to user participation in graphic design.

Graduating student Jonathan Latiano (Mount Royal School of Art) told the 2012 graduates he is "privileged to call many of you friends and all of you peers." In his speech, he also told graduates that as artists they "fill a very special niche in society," adding "it falls on artists to try and capture the gray areas in the universe."

Also at Graduate Commencement, LeRoy E. Hoffberger — one of the most vital supporters of MICA — was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for supporting MICA "in ways both highly visible and intimate," according to a citation read by Joan Waltemath, director of the Hoffberger School of Painting.  In his acceptance speech, Hoffberger said he never expected the honor and that "the relationship [with MICA] was an award in itself." Hoffberger, who also spoke of taking children's classes at MICA as early as 8 or 9 years old, said MICA is "redefining the boundaries of art while maintaining the values of an institution."

Watch Graduate Commencement:

Undergraduate Commencement took place on Monday, May 14 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. President Lazarus again opened the ceremony, telling degree candidates "We are excited about your future," and "proud to be able to honor you and recognize you today." 

Allen took the podium next, telling students "creativity is the key to navigating a complex world." He introduced commencement speaker and painter William H. Bailey to cheers and applause. Bailey's remarks followed his life through the Great Depression, his father's early death, the Korean War and a brutal critique from one of his heroes — and this was all before Bailey arrived at an art college. "I always drew pictures, they are an important part of my life," said Bailey, congratulating students before receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts after a citation was read by Painting Chair Barry Nemett. Throughout his career, Bailey taught at Southern Methodist University, Cooper Union, the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University. He was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve on the National Council of the Arts and has received honorary degrees from Adelphi University and the University of Utah, as well as the Yale Arts Medal for Distinguished Contribution in Painting and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Drawing major Sam Grossman provided the undergraduate address, encouraging his peers to cultivate relationships with one another after graduation. "Even if you are alone in your studio, you are not alone in the art world," said Grossman, who received a standing ovation from his peers. After his speech, MICAppella took to the stage for an a cappella performance.

Jan Stinchcomb '82, vice provost for undergraduate studies and faculty, read a citation before the prestigious Alumni Award was presented to Shinique Smith '92 '03 (general fine arts, Mount Royal School of Art). Smith works in a variety of artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, collage and video. Her work has been exhibited at venues including the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the New Museum, New York; Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin; PS 1 Contemporary Arts Center, New York; and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado. 

The Medal of Honor was presented to two longtime faculty members who retired this year. Animation Co-Chair Richard Lipscher was given the award as "the embodiment of the MICA spirit," while it was said faculty member Albert "Abby" Sangiamo "will forever be a MICA legend." While at the College, Lipscher helped ensure MICA is at the forefront of the multimedia revolution, while Sangiamo and his wife, Irma, created two scholarships in honor of his mother and father.

At the conclusion of each ceremony, Alumni Council Chair James Rieck '87 '03 welcomed MICA's newest alumni.

Watch Undergraduate Commencement: 

Image caption: President Fred Lazarus IV at Graduate Commencement.