McChrystal Leads Way at UMB Commencement
|It takes a general to lead an army and the graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)
were in good hands at their 2013 commencement program on May 17.
Stanley A. McChrystal, MS, MA, a retired four-star general who was the
top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and prior to that
elite special operations in Iraq, served as keynote speaker.
With doses of humor, humility, and plain truth, McChrystal captivated
the audience of graduates from UMB's six professional schools and
Graduate School. He recalled his own graduation "when I was paroled
from West Point 37 years ago." He remembered wearing a full-length
military jacket made of wool despite the heat and white cotton
trousers. And he remembered a rebellious friend of his, a football
player, "who underneath wore red bikini underwear. Of course, it
rained, the white trousers became transparent, and spectators up to 300
yards away could see the skimpy red briefs stretched tightly across my
friend's broad backside. But the laughter that day remains an almost
But McChrystal said he recalled nothing from that day's graduation
speaker, so he gave his audience permission "to nod off" during his
remarks. But they didn't, and applauded several of the retired
general's lines, especially when he compared commencement addresses to
war. "They seem like a good idea at the time, but when it drags on too
long everyone longs for a conclusion, and only a few people remember
what started it in the first place."
He urged the more than 1,500 members of UMB's Class of 2013 "to have a
sense of responsibility to others" and not to overlook the "wonderful
opportunities provided you" as an educated person in this country.
McChrystal and University President
Jay A. Perman, MD, (pictured) began the event by leading the graduates and
faculty in a festive procession several blocks from the downtown campus
to 1st Mariner Arena for the ceremony.
They were not the only people of note involved in UMB's commencement.
Robert M. Bell, JD, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, and
Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and
Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration, received honorary
When Bell was designated chief judge of the Court of Appeals, the
state's highest court, in 1996, he became the only active judge to have
served at least four years on all four levels of the Maryland
judiciary, and the first African-American to be named the state's chief
jurist. As student council president at Dunbar High School, Bell was
arrested for demonstrating against segregation, which led to the
historic Bell v. Maryland decision.
"There I was, a 16-year-old defendant in a civil disobedience case,"
Bell recalls, "watching a legal battle unfold between extraordinary
lawyers, including future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall
on my side and future chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals,
Robert Murphy, on the other side.
"No one in the room would have guessed that Robert Murphy and I would
go on to sit on that same Court of Appeals together, or that one day, I
would replace him as chief judge. They say that truth is stranger than
fiction, and I guess they're right."
Under Woodcock's leadership, CDER has streamlined review processes for
new and generic drugs while improving standards for quality, safety,
and effectiveness. She oversaw approval of the first
biotechnology-based treatments for multiple sclerosis and cystic
fibrosis, diseases that affect 2.1 million and 70,000 people,
respectively, throughout the world.
The UMB students were led into the arena by Janet D. Allan, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean
emeritus of the School of
Nursing, who was just the second honorary university marshal at UMB
Other honorary marshals included Elaine Romberg, PhD, and Norman Capra,
PhD, MS, retiring professors at the School of Dentistry, and
Julianne Oktay, PhD, MSW, a retiring professor at the School of Social
Perman sent the graduates away on a high note, urging them to serve
mankind and "make us as proud of you in the future as we are of you
Story by Chris Zang
To read the advice for the students offered by the platform party,
And, for more about those in the event, click
|Posting Date: 05/17/2013
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