While New College President Gordon “Mike” Michalson officially steps down from his administrative position at the end of this academic year, he will get a chance to conclude his 10 year run of presidency with a commencement speech for the graduating class of 2012. As a testament to the college’s admiration of the president, the NCF student body named Michalson as one of the top picks to receive the honor of guest speaker at this year’s graduation. The school’s highest-voted candidate, author Neil Gaiman, was unavailable and as Michalson put it:
“My travel expenses will be [much more] minimal and we’re a little tight on the budget.”
“I want to emphasize that this is a commencement speech,” Michalson said. “The members of the graduating class are the reason we’re there to honor them. It is by no means a valedictory or going-away speech.”
Michalson explained there is a kind of “symmetry” in giving the commencement speech the year before he returns to faculty. From 1992 to 1997 Michalson was the Dean and Warden for New College and just before he stepped down from that post, he gave the ’97 graduation commencement speech as his final duty after filling in for an absent speaker. In addition, many students will remember Michalson giving a commencement speech during their orientation at New College. This last speech for the graduating Novocollegians will seem to bookend their college experience.
“It’s an honor to be in a position to say a few words to the graduating class and their families,” Michalson stated.
Michalson explained he was sure to mention the lasting education of a liberal arts college in his speech and attempt to “exploit the difference between job training and education.”
“College education is a lot more than just preparing people for that first job. It’s about educating people for life on the globe,” Michalson said.