Congratulations, SPP Class of 2019!
Nearly half a thousand Master's students and 60 doctoral students, accompanied by their family members and friends, filled the auditorium at the Palace of Arts in Budapest, as Central European University (CEU) conferred graduate degrees on the CEU class of 2019. Among these, 48 candidates for the Masters' degrees from the School of Public Policy (SPP) and several doctoral candidates graduating from the Public Policy track of the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations contributed to the university's 28th graduating class.
CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff opened the ceremony, reminding the graduating students that “We exist to help you create your futures. We exist to train you in the values of freedom: responsibility for others, fearlessness in thought and action, unyielding commitment to the public good of people, community and nation.”
This year's commencement was a bittersweet moment for the CEU community, as the joyous celebrations were coupled with the sense that this was the last commencement in Hungary, as the political uncertainty due to Lex-CEU is forcing the university out of its home.
SPP Acting Dean Martin Kahanec pledged that "Here we stand with our hearts filled with excitement and joy, adamantly resilient, grateful for another inspiring and empowering academic year, and with great plans for our new campus in Vienna. We will continue our programs without interruption, we will defend academic freedom whatever it takes and wherever we are."
Leon Botstein, Chairman of the Board of Trustees thanked the students, staff, and faculty of the university for the tremendous job they have done during the academic year. Thanking the citizens of Budapest, he said that the university “owes a lot to the people of this great city.”
Alumni Speaker Adam Bodnar (Legs ’01), Commissioner for Human Rights of Poland, told the graduating class “You are not alone. This university has already changed Europe. It has taught numerous graduates - now civil servants, scholars, politicians, businessmen and activists - how to build modern states and how to serve citizens….You can survive periods of threats for democracy and rule of law, and not lose your belief in the sense of the free world, by building persistently the open society.”
Student Speaker Melody Barron (Gender ‘19) reminded the audience that “Knowledge should have no borders and no boundaries, and if there is a lesson I learned here at CEU, it is that in order to keep knowledge borderless and boundary-less, we must fight for it. The CEU mission is a mission I believe in, it’s the reason I applied here, this oasis of critical thought in a growing desert of academic persecution.”
Alexander G. Soros, philanthropist and deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) praised the CEU community for what it has endured over the past two years. He assured the CEU community that CEU is not defeated, rather, he committed the OSF to the recapitalization of CEU’s endowment, enabling to university to flourish in Vienna and around the world.
This year's CEU Open Society Prize was awarded to Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor of economics at Columbia University and the laureate of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001.
"Today we wish our graduates fair winds and following seas in whatever professional or academic endeavors they go for, to make a positive change to the benefit of their communities, countries, and all of us," concluded Kahanec.