GENESEO, N.Y. - Keynote speaker and 1983 Geneseo alumnus Jeff Clarke urged graduating seniors at SUNY Geneseo's commencement today to embrace globalization and technology as two factors that will significantly impact their lives. The college awarded 1,279 degrees during two ceremonies on campus.
"Globalization is creating vast new markets for products and services," said Clarke, president and CEO of Travelport. "It will have enormous implications in your lives and in your careers over the next few decades."
Travelport is a broad-based business services company serving the travel industry and corporations worldwide. During his address, "Choices for Your Next Decade," Clarke noted that many of the technologies we take for granted today did not exist a decade ago, including the very ones that led to the creation of Travelport.
"Understanding that technology can - and probably will - shape your future is important," he said. "Being ready to embrace new technologies and understand how they can change our world is vital."
Clarke recalled the concept of "creative destruction," introduced to him as a student by David Martin, professor emeritus of economics at Geneseo. Clarke described creative destruction as the process of how the market economy sorts through technology change.
"It helps explain the process of why companies, industries and even nations thrive or fail due to the innovation which occurs in the country and by its entrepreneurs and businesses," said Clarke. "Industries, companies and jobs are replaced by new technologies. The process of creative destruction results in winners and losers. The impact is not just a business or economic issue; it affects lives, individuals, families, unions, communities. Institutions like Geneseo and governments feel the benefits and costs of creative destruction."
Clarke urged the graduates to take advantage of the accelerating pace of change and the opportunities it creates and to "feel the responsibility to be an active part of the institutions you care about."
As evidenced, he cited Geneseo's significant change in the last decade with regard to its esteemed academic quality and campus resources such as the new Integrated Science Center - during a period when New York state funding for Geneseo's budget has dramatically declined from 68 percent to less than 30 percent.
"Geneseo will need you to play an active role in Geneseo after you leave campus to allow the school to continue to thrive."
Geneseo conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters upon renowned poet and librettist J. D. "Sandy" McClatchy, professor of English at Yale University. He also is editor of "The Yale Review" and president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In addition, several students received awards at commencement: Emily Doyle, a psychology major from Cuba, N.Y., received the Richard Roark Award, presented to a student who embodies the spirit of scholarship and community service. The award was established in memory of Roark, a Geneseo faculty member who died in 1970. Angela Snook, a business administration major from Rochester, N.Y., received the Geneseo Alumni Association Student Leadership Award. Laura Marrin, an English major from Somers, N.Y., received the Student Association's President's Cup.
The senior orators at this year's commencement were Fiona Harvey, an English major and a student in the college's Access Opportunity Program, which provides traditionally by-passed residents of New York state with access to higher education; and Megan Cosgrove, a biochemistry major who plans on pursuing a doctorate in cancer research.
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