As members of the Class of 2001 prepare to leave the UR community, commencement speaker Jarold Ramsey will give them sound advice for the future.

An accomplished poet and former professor of English, Ramsey will focus on the idea of conservation in his speech.

?It all comes back to what we have to do with and for the environment. It?s not a typical graduation speech, but that?s one of the reasons why I?m giving it,? he said.

Ramsey retired in 1997 after teaching at UR for 32 years.

He moved to his home state of Oregon last September but still has many friends and family in the area, and he is looking forward to coming back.

?I?m a westerner and never lived in the east before I came to Rochester, so I was totally inexperienced with eastern ways,? he said. ?I really enjoyed living in Rochester, though.?

One of his most memorable and positive experiences here was teaching students.

?I loved the students because they were bright and ambitious. I thought they were an interesting mix, and I liked their motivation,? he said.

Ramsey, a firm believer in the value of teaching, will also speak about the merits of an education.

?I?ve always felt enormously lucky in the teachers I?ve had,? he said. ?I hope that these graduates feel the same way, and if they do, I hope that they will make a commitment to keep on teaching themselves, not necessarily in a formal way.?


Ramsey, who received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, has diverse interests including American Indian literature, Shakespeare and modern poetry.

While at the university, Ramsey served as director of the Hyam Plutzik Memorial Poetry Series for several years and edited an exhibit of Plutzik archives. He was appointed the first director of undergraduate research.

He was extremely involved with Drama House and helped establish the journalism program at UR. In 1997, a study in Rush Rhees Library was named in his honor.

He has received the Borestone Mountain Award for Poetry, NEA Creative Writing Fellow and the Walker Award for Best Essay on Western American Literature.

His works include ?The Space Between Us,? ?Love in an Earthquake, ?Dermo-graphia? and ?Hand-Shadows,? which won a 1989 Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Award.

Ramsey attributes his many successes to his constant desire to continue learning.

?I hope that there is a commitment in the class where they will take the opportunity to teach themselves, whether in the classroom, or on the job,? he said.

Eastman speaker

Opera legend and Eastman graduate William Warfield canceled his scheduled commencement speech at the Eastman School of Music because he had to undergo surgery.

Professor of Musicology Ellen Koskoff will give the address, called ?When I Was Your Age.?

?I talk about all of the assumptions I had at 21 about who I was, where I was going and what really happened,? she said. ?Of course, I?m honored, but I hope the students aren?t too disappointed, expecting a singing legend and getting me.?

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