Canada to Class of 2012: “Get in the game”
Ruzena Bajcsy | In 1978, you founded Penn’s General Robotics and Active Sensory Perception Laboratory (GRASP), one of the first of its kind and one of the world’s premier robotics research centers. In developing the concept of “active perception” in robotics, you had the insight to command the machines: “Don’t see … look. Don’t touch … feel.” In teaching them to learn as humans do—actively seeking information and evaluating different perspectives—you revolutionized the field.
Geoffrey Canada | In your compelling memoir Fist Stick Knife Gun, you recounted a South Bronx childhood of inner city streets marked by poverty and defined by the rituals and codes of violence … Today, as President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, you and your staff of 650 help 11,000 children and their families overcome obstacles to success through a network of educational, health, and social initiatives.
Akira Endo | Confronted with the newly understood nature of cholesterol and its devastating threat to human health, you wondered if fungal enzymes like those you had been studying could hold the solution to combating heart disease …Your relentless search finally uncovered mevastatin, a compound that did indeed inhibit cholesterol’s synthesis. The revolutionary statin drugs that arose from your discovery are now among the most prescribed medications in the world.
Peter D. Lax | Your interweaving of the theoretical and the applied has profoundly influenced mathematics in our age. Your discipline’s vernacular reflects the far-ranging importance of your studies, including the Lax Equivalence Theorem, the Lax-Friedrichs scheme, and the Lax Entropy Condition … You worked on the history-making Manhattan Project alongside some of the world’s top thinkers.
John R. Lewis | You launched your heroic crusade at the age of 19 by leading a lunch counter sit-in. You went on to form and eventually lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, risking your life for your country on the Freedom Rides and again in leading the march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma … For the last quarter-century, you have served the people of Georgia as a member of the Fifth Congressional District, and your strong moral fiber has earned you a reputation as the conscience of the Congress.
David H. Petraeus | As the supreme leader of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, you implemented your theories before a watching world … You worked to protect the population and launched thousands of reconstruction projects, trained security forces, built roads, and reopened schools … Your “Petraeus doctrine”— a manual for countering insurgency that you set forth during this command—is now changing how the Army thinks and how it wages battle.
Anna Deavere Smith | Your unique style of documentary theater has enabled us to do what is so rarely possible in mainstream America—view issues of social justice through the eyes of those most affected. Your celebrated plays “Twilight Los Angeles,” “Fires in the Mirror,” and “Let Me Down Easy” have shown us the very personal consequences of racial tension and healthcare inequalities as experienced by the people you portray. Through your plays, you uphold the dignity of every individual and show how injustice diminishes us all.
—Courtesy of the Office of the University Secretary
| ©2012 The Pennsylvania
Last modified 07/03/12