While Winter Commencement didn’t draw the crowd that Spring Commencement in the Big House did this past May, the lower bowl of Crisler Arena was filled with graduates and their families and friends during Sunday afternoon’s ceremony.
Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman delivered the commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree. Sandra Faber also received an honorary Doctor of Sciences degree and Charles Munger received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics and is known for his work in prospect theory — an explanation of how individuals make decisions between two risky choices. He talked about the perception of self and happiness in his address, saying income has little to do with emotional happiness and urging graduates to find happiness.
“You do not want exclusively to worry about the story of your life,” Kanheman said. “You also want a happy life, an emotionally happy life.”
Regent Julia Darlow (D–Ann Arbor) presented Faber, a world-renowned astronomer, with her honorary degree.
“You have blazed a path of inquiry and innovation that will benefit future generations of scientists and have established a great legacy of knowledge regarding astrophysics and the formation of galaxies,” Darlow said.
Charles Munger, a University alum and vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, received his honorary degree from Regent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park).
“For decades, you have shared your profound insight with a broad array of audiences, from your avid shareholders to students at the leading universities of our nation,” Richner said.
University President Mary Sue Coleman also addressed the crowd in Crisler Arena. She commented on the change students and their surroundings have gone through since entering the University and assured students that they should not let change scare them.
“Change is not only ubiquitous,” Coleman said. “It has also become breakneck.”
In her speech, Coleman explained the changes graduates have experienced while in college, saying that when the graduates enrolled at the University four years ago, the world had no idea who Lady Gaga was and nobody had ever watched an episode of “Glee,” but now both are staples in many of their lives.
Coleman said some things will never change, like the support the University network of faculty and alumni provides graduates.
“For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, go blue,” Coleman said at the close of her speech.
University Provost Philip Hanlon testified to the breadth of the University network and told a story about how he ran into a University student while in Kenya. In his speech, Hanlon encouraged graduates to go out and make a difference.
LSA senior Molly Wagner delivered the student address at Sunday’s ceremony. Wagner said she picked the graffiti on heating vents in Hatcher Graduate Library for the topic of her speech because it is a good example of how students try to make their mark at the University.
“It is time for us to make room for the future generation of Michigan students and to follow in the path of those who came before,” Wagner said. “We are ready.”
In an interview after the ceremony, Wagner said she was terrified before she started speaking, but she thought she “nailed it.” Wagner said in her speech that University graduates are going out into the world with courage and a great education.
“But most importantly, we are going!” Wagner said.