DALLAS TWP. — To the sounds of bagpipes, 378 undergraduate and graduate students took their places at Misericordia University’s 87th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday.
The commencement was the last for university President Michael MacDowell, who retires on June 30 after 15 years at the helm.
In MacDowell’s speech to the graduates, he encouraged them to live up to the values they had learned at Misericordia. He praised them for the 158,000 hours of community service performed by the students, faculty and staff in the past year.
An honorary doctorate was conferred on Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera.
A doctorate also was conferred on Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of books and magazine articles. Bernstein and fellow reporter Bob Woodward investigated the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.
Bernstein’s commencement address contained strong social commentary. In the speech, he urged students to fix what was wrong with American society. Deeply critical of what he called “the cacophony of cultural warfare,” he said that politicians and citizens alike were responsible for the country’s problems. He deplored the ideological differences that separate the nation.
Bernstein told graduates the democratic principles that allowed the Watergate investigation to proceed have not been seen in their lifetimes.
Praising Catholic social teachings, Bernstein told graduates to use them to benefit mankind.
Bernstein also told them to seek truth: “Facts are not the truth. Complexity is the stuff of real life.”
“Failure is very often the way we learn best,” he said. “Don’t leave this place playing safe.”
He received a standing ovation for his remarks.
After the conferring of degrees, valedictorian Maria Kidron reminded students to remember the four values of Misericordia: mercy, service, justice and hospitality. Kidron gave special thanks to the faculty and staff of her department, the Department of Speech-Language Pathology.
Many students chose to decorate their graduation caps with jewels, or the name of their major. Virginia O’Reilly, an occupational therapy graduate from Moriches, N.Y., has a job waiting in her new career. Her cap said it all: “Adventure is Out There.”