Friday, May 18, 2007

Irvine Valley College 2007 Commencement

IVC's commencement went well, I think. Near as I can tell, students loved it.

It was brief, which worked out well for several reasons, not the least of which being the sub-academic Motivational Claptrap served up by some speakers. Still, there were no howlers, no pratfalls, and for once Raghu didn't utter his "three fingers" bromide.

I came late and missed the invocation, evidently given by Bush Appointee and noted Spanophile Thomas A. Fuentes. No doubt, it was memorable. (If you heard it, tell us about it!)

Here sit the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees, et al. (Fuentes is off-camera.)


AS SEEN ON TV: Keynote speaker John Spencer Ellis.

Apparently oblivious of (or indifferent to?) logic or science, Dr. Ellis (he has a doctorate in education, just like the Chancellor) declared that there "are no coincidences" and there "is no randomness." One should, he said, set about to establish "self-efficacy"—evidenty a condition beyond mere efficacy.

He offered "10 words" that are more important, he said, than all other words put together: please, thank you, I love you, how may I help?

Sure enough, they add up to 10. (They're not really ten words, though. Four utterances, perhaps?)

Ellis urged students to find their voice, and "their bliss," too. He was particularly determined that they find their bliss.

The handsome fellow ended with, "Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life."

For more of John's wisdom (and for an opportunity to spend a great deal of money), go to John Spencer Ellis Enterprises. There, one learns that, according to the New York Post, "John is a combination of Tony Robbins & Jack Lalanne."

(Our Rebel Girl was on the "commencement speaker" committee, where, armed with carefully written proposals, she urged its membership to consider other candidates, including prominent writers and editors. Nope. Too boring, it seems.)

Student speaker Alexandra Shaygan, eschewing motivational twaddle, charmed; Trustee Don Wagner, eschewing decorum, scowled, albeit intermittently. He scowled consistently when he looked my way! What's up, Don? (But at least we agree on the Claptrap, don't we Don? I just know you're cringing when you hear that stuff about "bliss"!) (See Raghu Successorizes.)



Chancellor Raghu Mathur told his "yacht" story. Evidently inspired by his extensive reading list—it runs the gamut from A to B—the Chancellor advised that "you become what you practice most." Were he an educated man, Mathur would realize that Aristotle gave that advice 2400 years ago. It's a tad familiar in academic circles.

Mathur's message: "always do your best." Why? Because of the "new global economy," he said.

Aristotle gave a different answer.

A retiring colleague is honored.



IVC President Glenn Roquemore and Academic Senate President Wendy Gabriella

One odd factoid that emerged during today's commencements was the increasing dominance of women among the community college studentry. (Soon, it seems, 2/3 of Saddleback's students will be female!)

At IVC today, women seemed to dominate the task of documenting the event.


  1. OMG I'm jealous. The students look so healthy, and the faculty so prosperous, compared to ours. And we could never have graduation outside because of the rain, the mosquitoes, and the heat. (Although by chance today has perfect California weather.)

    However, we would also not have a speaker who said "find your bliss" and "welcome to the first day of the rest of your life" - does he think he is speaking to morons, or what - or is he one himself, or is he saying that to express disdain, or what?

  2. yes, professor zero, that's the trade-off for the fine weather and general good health of students and faculty - an insipid on-campus culture that imagines that fellow and his cliche-ridden platitudes represent the best of higher education...don't get me started.

    There WERE other candidates for the speaker's position - a former student now an award-winning, Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist; a local MacArthur fellow; a local journalist whose newly published book is making headlines around the country --- but NOOOOOO.

  3. Thanks for the great photos, Chunk.

  4. Somebody fretted about the absence of balloons at IVC's commencement. If you examine the photos carefully, you will see IVC's usual blue-and-white balloonery. Very festive.

    When the train, it left the station
    with two lights on behind
    When the train, it left the station
    with two lights on behind
    Well, the blue light was my blues
    and the [white] light was my mind
    All my love's in vain

  5. Saddleback does appear to have MORE ballons though.

  6. It's true. Saddleback College had WAY more balloons 'cause of its recent "celebrate balloons" week. Students spent an entire week learning about the rubber devices. Did you know that they're not made of rubber? Did you know that the Mayans had balloons? Did you know that the Board President's head is actually a balloon?

  7. IVC looks like the happiest place on earth!

    Purty, too.

  8. Saddleback balloons IVC buffoons.

  9. Chunk,
    Find your bliss!

  10. Beyond the keynote speaker’s photogenic, mannequin-like mannerisms, why attack the stiff for his personal beliefs?

    “Apparently oblivious of (or indifferent to) logic or science, Dr. Ellis declared that there ‘are no coincidences’ and there ‘is no randomness’...

    So he believes that determinism supersedes freewill… Big deal. There are many who hold religious beliefs in this world as well (to some, also contrary to logic or science). Shall we comment on them too and intimate something about the 1.6 billion Muslims or 900 million Hindus in the world for what they believe, since it runs contrary to gospel science or academically approved logic?


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