News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 29, 2010

Senior class president: It’s an ‘honor and a privilege’ to graduate from Rose

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It was standing-room only in the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Sports and Recreation Center, as the largest class in school history marched into alumni status before family and friends.

The school’s 132nd commencement included 389 diplomas Saturday morning, as officials noted the Class of 2010 graduated 80 percent of those who first showed up on campus in 2005.

Senior class president Meredith Woodward said those who completed the journey did so through perseverance. “We are all here today because we refused to quit,” she said in her address, adding that it is an “honor and a privilege” to graduate from Rose-Hulman.

According to information provided by the school, the Class of 2010 had achieved an 85 percent job placement rate by Memorial Day Weekend, with 98 percent expected by the end of summer.

President Matt Branam, Rose-Hulman Class of 1979, described Rose-Hulman alumni as an “elite corp.”

“Consider that Indiana University will graduate 130 percent more people this spring than we can count among all of our 13,360 living alumni of Rose-Hulman,” he said. “You can be very proud to be counted among us as one who is highly trained and well prepared, both technically and as a well-rounded citizen of the world.”

Branam challenged the class to make a difference in a changing world, recounting the story of his own great-great uncle, Fred Pence, Class of 1920. Pence was the youngest brother of Branam’s own great-grandmother. When her husband died while working in the coal mines, leaving her to raise 13 children, Pence began sending her monthly checks as he was employed in California, designing kitchen appliances. Those checks were sent each month until all 13 children were grown, Branam said.

“From his paycheck which he was given, for the job which he was given, because of the education which he was given, Uncle Fred made a difference. Uncle Fred left his mark on this world.”

As did Bob Metcalfe, commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary doctorate.

Metcalfe, an Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer and Internet pioneer credited with inventing the Ethernet, had the crowd roaring as he paused his tech-heavy speech to relay the news worldwide.

“Now, I hope you will excuse me for a few trillion picoseconds while I Tweet this joyful moment with hashtag No. RHIT2010. Word of celebration will thereby go to Twitter and onward to Facebook, which now has 500 million online friends. Send,” he said to the engineers’’ laughter. “Many of you have Blackberries, iPhones, iPads and Androids. Feel free to use them while I am speaking, if for no other reason than to honor the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who have worked hard over the decades to make these wonderful new social networking tools possible. Use hashtag No. RHIT2010,” he said to applause.

But the National Medal of Technology winner with a doctorate in computer science from Harvard, as well as a lifetime of experience on boards of Silicon Valley’s most successful firms, told the audience of young scientists that while happiness is elusive, it is well deserved and worth the search.

“All that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about,” he said, quoting 19th century author Charles Kingsley.

“I came to believe this secret so thoroughly that … I named my humble yacht … Enthusiasm. The word is from the Greek meaning, having God within. Having God within, even to the most devout Darwinian, can be reassuring, especially on stormy nights out in the Gulf of Maine,” he said. “Or, to put the secret of happiness another way, if you are bored with life, you will be unhappy, and it’s just because you haven’t been paying attention. If you want to be happy, find something that turns you on, and there are many more than three doors to choose from.”

In addition to record-setting size, the Class of 2010 also featured two members graduating with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. Joseph K. Ausserer, a double degree student in mechanical and chemical engineering from Beavercreek, Ohio; and Anthony C. Klee, an optical engineering major from Billings, Mont., both earned the Heminway Medal, presented annually since 1888 to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or