Maxwell celebrates graduates, faculty at Commencement Weekend 2018

Commencement weekend for graduates of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University began on Friday, May 11 in Hendricks Chapel with Maxwell’s 2018 Graduate Convocation honoring Master’s and doctoral degree candidates across the school’s scholarly and professional programs.

David M. Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School, welcomed graduates, faculty, staff, and guests before inviting student speaker Marcus Bell ’18 PhD (Sociology) to provide the student address.

As Maxwell graduates are looking toward their next chapter, Bell spoke about memories and the importance of making every moment count. Memories tell our story and make us who we are. In childhood, Bell and his family faced the trials that come with poverty, yet, in spite of these difficult times, Bell’s mother instilled a love of reading and knowledge, which eventually led to his enrollment at Maxwell. “We only get this one life, and that should mean something,” shared Bell. “Celebrate this day. Celebrate your achievements.”


Carol Faulkner, associate dean of the Maxwell School and professor of history, introduced the keynote speaker, Jeffrey Gonda, assistant professor of history and the 2018 recipient of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Teaching and Research.

In his address, Gonda spoke of the importance of public service, making a difference, and wielding the tools of truth and hope in these efforts, as truth reminds us of the work still to be done, and hope tells us that we have to do it.

Yet, asked Gonda, “How do you change the world?” Quoting Arthur Ashe, Gonda’s answer was equally simple and significant: “Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.”

Start where you are. Don’t wait for permission or the right circumstances to begin working for a more just future.

Use what you have. Don’t doubt that you already have something valuable and meaningful to contribute. “You all here have an important perspective on this because, not only have you honed skills in your time at Maxwell that can and will make a difference when you apply them in the world,” affirmed Gonda, “but you have also seen the power of knowing that we always have more to learn from one another.”

Do what you can. Silence and complacency are never acceptable responses in the face of injustice. “As scholars and as citizens, as graduates of Maxwell, you all will have a critical role to play in helping truth’s resurgence.”

Gonda made an appeal to Maxwell’s graduates. “We need you to go on from here and to fight for change, to use the skills and the knowledge, and the friendships and the relationships that you have built here,” he entreated. “We need you to do the work of scholars and activists who believe in, and advocate for, the things that don't yet exist — the books that need to be written, the ideas that need to be articulated, the organizations that need to be built, the policies that need to be changed, the service in our communities that needs to be done. The fire that is shut up in your bones, that has to get out — we need it.”

The event also celebrated outstanding achievements by students and faculty.

Andrew London, associate dean of the Maxwell School and professor of sociology, presented the Doctoral Awards for academic excellence to William Suk (Anthropology), Yang Liang (Economics), Jesse Hysell (History), Michael Newell (Political Science), Kelly Stevens (Public Administration and International Affairs), Natasha Koshy (Social Science), and Marcus Bell (Sociology).

Van Slyke recognized the professional faculty achievements by Thomas Perreault, professor of geography and recipient of the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship; Francine D’Amico, teaching professor of international relations and recipient of Syracuse University’s Meredith Teaching Recognition Award; Osamah F. Khalil, associate professor of history and recipient of Syracuse University’s Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence Award; and Jennifer Karas Montez, Gerald B. Cramer Scholar of Aging Studies and recipient of a 2018 Carnegie Fellowship.

Celebrations continued throughout the weekend, with the College of Arts & Sciences/Maxwell School Undergraduate Convocation on Saturday. Commencement weekend concluded with the All University Commencement on Sunday, with the Commencement Address given by athlete, author and social activist Kathrine Switzer ’68 G’72. 

View photos of Maxwell's 2018 Convocation.