Against a black curtain backdrop on a makeshift stage, the ceremonys proceedings occurred as in years past. Provost and Dean of the College James May delivered the Recognition of Honorees, in which he commended parents and family members, donors and distinguished faculty.
May also acknowledged students work, including both special and general honors. Special honors included senior honor societies as well as Fulbright and Goldwater scholarships. The general honors pertained to students of all classes who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or above.
Professor of Philosophy Edward Langerak delivered the address, "Seeing Through," a speech about perspective pluralism that played on the metaphor of seeing through someone versus seeing someone through.
Langerak began his speech by saying that when he started teaching at St. Olaf in 1972, tuition cost $3,400 and "C" was considered an average grade in the college catalog. He then delved into the main metaphor of his talk, which elaborated on the ideas of "sight" and "insight" and pointed out that seeing through another person does not always need to have a negative connotation.
"Honor students are applauded in part because of their ability to see through each other, see through themselves and to do it with the appropriate nuances," he said. "And we hope this is true especially at a college that emphasizes not just intellectual achievement but also the costs and the joys of discipleship."
Exploring the differences of seeing "through," "with," "past" and "into" others, Langerak pointed out the difference between tolerance and respect for a position with which one disagrees. To make this abstract idea more concrete, Langerak said that perspective pluralism is a valuable philosophy to consider when studying abroad.
"It allows us to engage disagreement in frank but civil ways, to have open-minded respect for a view without broad-minded approval of it or a shallow-minded dismissal of whether it is true," he said.
Langerak concluded his speech with a personal story: A year and a half ago, when he experienced abortive sudden cardiac death, his wife, Lois, was able to save him with the CPR skills she had recently acquired. As a result of the experience, he recommended a slightly modified philosophy of "living each day as if it might be your last."
After ending with the suggestion of "combining seeing through, with, past and into one another with seeing one another through," Langerak offered words of advice that were particularly relevant to students approaching finals.
"Its good to remember: Dont just do something and stand there," he said. "Better yet, sit there and enjoy."
Following the Honors Day Convocation, a reception in Buntrock Crossroads took place as well as a banquet in the Black and Gold Ballroom to thank donors to the College.