Prepared remarks for Commencement 2013 by Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda Bell.

Good afternoon. My name is Linda Bell, and I am the Provost and Dean of the Faculty. To the Class of 2013, and to your proud families and friends, I stand before you on behalf of the faculty to offer our warm congratulations and very best wishes.

I speak to you today about Barnard—both what it has taught you and what it will come to mean to you as you traverse the varied paths that you create for yourself and that life will hold.  And I speak to you about what teaching this exceptional class has meant to us, as your faculty.

Barnard’s model—the liberal arts model—is all about academic excellence in a place where ideas are valued, fluid, and uncontained; where learning begins in the laboratory or classroom or theater, but continues well beyond the spaces defined by classes and coursework.  Barnard is a vibrant community, where analytical, conceptual, and communication skills enable us to confront issues that cross disciplinary, national, and cultural borders. And you, as Barnard students, are immersed, individually and collectively, in an ever-evolving process of ideas and discovery. You are part of Barnard’s historic commitment to social justice and human rights, and hold the critical skills and necessary tools to advance knowledge and humanity – to gather what we, as educators have imparted, and take it on the road with impact.

This is our gift to you. And we have every hope and faith that you will use it wisely and well. The evolution of modern civilization, to quote John F Kennedy—“a race between catastrophe and education”—depends critically on your thoughtful use of these skills, on your lifelong quest for understanding and solutions, and on your commitment to right what is wrong and to explore the unknown.

This faculty is well aware of the challenges you face as you leave Barnard, but we know that you are more than ready to go forward. We’ve seen you shine and have every confidence in your ability, your brilliance, and your promise. So take your Barnard education out into the world, be defiant when faced with adversity, be triumphant in your successes, remain dedicated to your passions, and as always, continue to shine in all that you do.