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Ho, Clinton Praise Research During 132nd Commencement


Gabor Csanyi -- The Tech
President Bill Clinton and Dr. David D. Ho confer during the 132nd Commencement exercises held last Friday.

By Susan Buchman
Staff Reporter

One of the longest Commence-ment exercises in history went off without any major hitches as the largest audience ever was treated to speeches from President Bill Clinton and celebrated researcher Dr. David D. Ho last Friday in Killian Court.

The 2,100 graduates receiving 1,049 undergraduate and 1,384 graduate degrees were treated to a sunny, cool day. An estimated 10,000 guests watched the ceremony, some arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. in order to pass through the stringent security required by the president's visit.

President Clinton arrived by helicopter on Briggs Field and met with senior administrators and student leaders prior to the ceremony. He entered Killian Court after the academic procession had been seated near 11 a.m.

Ho delivered the first keynote address in which he related his experiences in AIDS research to the audience as examples of the excitement and wonders that scientific research can bring. He also warned the graduates in science and engineering fields that they will be stereotyped, undervalued, and underpaid.

Ho also expressed concern over "society's lack of commitment to research in basic science" and urged the audience to reject the "prevailing view that immigrants constitute a constant drain on our society."

Geoffrey J. Coram G, outgoing president of the Graduate Student Council, gave the salute from the graduate students. Coram spoke of the pressure of MIT, but then added "you would have been disappointed if MIT hadn't challenged you."

Coram expressed confidence that the graduates would be successful and "make MIT as proud to claim you as a graduate as you are of that diploma on your wall."

Salman A. Khan '98, president of the graduating class, presented President Vest with $26,000 for the purpose of renovating the Student Center study lounge. Khan told his classmates, "It is no exaggeration to say that we will change the world."

President Vest's annual charge to the graduates was shortened significantly due to the presence of the two guest speakers. Vest told the audience that he had recently been called a model president by an MIT student, which delighted him "until I looked up model in the dictionary and saw that it is a small replica of the real thing."

He subsequently called upon the graduates to "keep moving"through their lives.

President Clinton, after labeling himself as "scientifically challenged," in comparison to Ho and the graduates present, outlined the technological and educational policies which he feels are essential to the growth of the United States. He focused on the desire for equal and adequate access to computer and the Internet for all. Clinton warned that a refusal to act soon to provide technological training to all would create a disparity of opportunity in the United States similar to those created by the mechanization of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution.

"Choices cannot be deferred; they are made by action or inaction. Until every child has a computer in the classroom...American will miss the full promise of the information age," said Clinton.

Clinton presented degrees to Class Marshals Khan, Samantha L. Lavery '98, and Michelle K. McDonough MCP '98. Coram, another class marshal who is still a doctoral candidate, received a handshake from the president.

Following Clinton's departure, Vest presented diplomas to those receiving undergraduate degrees, and Provost Joel Moses PhD '67, participating in his last Commencement as Provost, awarded advanced degrees.