Annapolis celebrates 219th Commencement
The soggy spring rain in Annapolis that moved the 219th Commencement ceremony indoors was soon forgotten as families and friends gathered to celebrate the accomplishments and promise of the 88 graduating seniors who received bachelor’s degrees and 36 students from the Graduate Institute in Liberal Education who received master’s degrees. Graduating seniors came from 26 states and 4 foreign countries.
The senior class chose their commencement speaker, Leo Pickens, athletics director and 1978 alumnus of the college. Mr. Pickens encouraged the graduates to practice the “arts of freedom” that are “no less than a path to excellence.” He said, “This is what we celebrate today: your first strides on this path of freedom and excellence.”
“Who are you under that cap and gown?” asked Mr. Pickens. “Whose are you? To what and to whom do you belong?...I hope one response may be ‘to St. John’s College, this tiny Republic of Letters.’” Read Mr. Pickens’ Commencement speech.
In 2009, Mr. Pickens received the St. John's College Alumnus of Merit award for his dedication as a coach and mentor. When Mr. Pickens returned to his alma mater, St. John’s College, in 1988 to run the athletics program, he brought a passion for the democratic learning that is at the heart of this distinctive liberal arts college. His coaching philosophy mirrors this. The college’s co-ed intramural program is all-inclusive and the once-fledgling crew program—the college had only one rowing shell when Leo arrived as athletics director—has flourished under his steady direction.