On Friday, May 16, the SVA community gathered at Radio City Music Hall to honor this year’s graduates at the Class of 2008’s Commencement Exercises. The College conferred degrees to graduating students in nine graduate and eight undergraduate disciplines. For the first time in SVA’s history, students wore traditional academic caps and gowns (specially designed by Acting Chairman Milton Glaser) as they crossed the stage to receive their degrees and congratulations from both the department chairs and SVA President David Rhodes.
The event was emceed by MFA Illustration as Visual Essay Department Chair Marshall Arisman, who introduced the day’s slate of speakers: President Rhodes, undergraduate speaker Desiree Stavracos (BFA Film, Video and Animation Department) and graduate speaker Thenjiwe Nkosi (MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department). The president addressed upcoming changes to copyright law, saying, “Absent serious penalties for infringement, we all know what will happen. The unscrupulous will infringe with impunity.” The event’s guest speaker, The New York Times columnist Frank Rich, talked to the assembled students about how this year’s graduating artists would play a key role in redesigning society in the immediate future. “You have an opportunity to reinvent contemporary culture for an ever more diverse and international audience,” he told the graduates, “and to use that culture not just for delight and provocation, but for the greater good.”
Photo by Joseph Sinnott, 2008.