Commencement came on a cool and overcast day, though without the rain and mud that marked Abraham Lincoln's Second Inauguration. Ron White, our Commencement speaker, did note that the weather was dreary for Lincoln's address, though he emphasized the promise of the president's biblical cadences and redemptive themes. Despite the dark skies, several reporters in 1865 remarked that the occasion was far more bouyant than four years earlier, when agitators filled the dusty streets of the capital with hints of secession. Yet one of Lincoln's best friends observed that it was a "pale, melancholy figure" who rose to accept a second term at the head of a war-weary nation.
I appreciated how Dr. White concluded his remarks by asking us to recite Lincoln's closing words, hopeful that the national benediction of 1865 can still inspire our best labors: "With malice toward none, with charity for all . . . let us strive on to finish the work we are in. . . " As Gayle observed in his own closing comments, this has been both a wonderful and a trying year for Westmont, and many in the community have been striving on with dignity in the midst of great challenges and sorrow. In this report, I get to celebrate several of the high points of the year—including a few awards, some newly appointed faculty, and the recent grants of tenure. But I also want to acknowledge the steady efforts of many colleagues who remain committed to work that we are still finishing, and doing so with perserverance, often in times of trial. At the conclusion I have attached the remarks that I shared at the farewell reception in appreciation of Jane Higa as she finishes her work at Westmont and strives forward in faith.