One of the nation's most respected journalists gave McDaniel College graduates in Westminster yesterday a list of guidelines that he practices while working in the news business.
Jim Lehrer, who received an honorary doctorate of journalism at the college's 134th commencement, listed integrity, impartiality and diligence before ending with, "Finally, I am not in the entertainment business." The remark earned him rousing applause.
Still, as they stood at the podium together, Lehrer and his wife, Kate Lehrer, did entertain the crowd, he with a rendition of announcements he used to make while working at a small-town bus terminal in his youth.
"I never minded that he got all those awards, but I hate it that he's got that bus call and I don't have anything close," she said.
While Jim Lehrer, whose 45-year career includes coverage of the John F. Kennedy assassination and the Watergate hearings, and more than 30 years of broadcasting on PBS, the last nine as moderator of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, offered tips to prospective journalists. His wife gave life lessons.
"Stay hooked on the world," said Kate Lehrer, a novelist who received an honorary doctorate of letters degree. "You have to participate as a citizen."
The ceremony began as the bachelor's and master's candidates marched from Baker Chapel to the Gill Center between rows of applauding faculty. Until the last student passes, tradition dictates that Joan Develin Coley, college president, continue to ring the hefty and sonorous Old Main Bell. She had a firm assist from James E. Lightner, college historian and retired mathematics professor.
The college conferred more than 420 bachelor's degrees and more than 430 master's degrees.
Coley reminded the graduates that the school, founded in 1867 as Western Maryland College, is in the business of changing students' lives. Student speakers echoed that theme in their remarks.
"These changes far surpass the facts we have crammed into our heads," said James M. Lipchock, a chemistry and physics major from Frederick County. "They reflect a change in how we think and view the world. They reflect a knowledge and respect for diversity."
Angela M. Seufert, a Baltimore resident who majored in exercise science and physical education, said, "McDaniel has effectively taught us how to cope in a world of differences and difficulties."
Brian C. Robinson, who earned a master's degree in elementary education while teaching sixth grade in Prince George's County, told the audience that learning shouldn't stop.
"Successful people must have a desire and drive to learn at all times," he said. "From knitting and rock climbing to master's degrees and Ph.D.s, we must be learning role models."
The McDaniel faculty kept a timely tradition of its own. It gets a small pool going every year, betting on the length of the ceremony.
On the first note of the recessional, chemistry professor and official timekeeper Dave Herlocker clicked off his stopwatch at 4:02:47 p.m., making yesterday's commencement - slightly more than two hours - the shortest since the $1 wagering began about 20 years ago. Alex Ober, an exercise science professor, came within 17 seconds of the actual time and won $27 from his colleagues.
Also, Frostburg State University held its 124th commencement yesterday, conferring degrees on 650 students at the Western Maryland campus.