New School commencement keynote speaker Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line, shows graduates the stack of rejection letters he received at the start of his career. "Rejection can be a good teacher," Hammond told graduates. (Photo, Jerry Speier, 2012)
New York, May 18, 2012 - Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line addressed graduates today at The New School's 76th commencement exercises. New School president David E. Van Zandt presided over the ceremony at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Hammond spoke about his grassroots effort to launch Manhattan's High Line, known around the world for its innovative landscape design and use of public space. Displaying a stack of rejection letters from early potential employers, Hammond told graduates that he found refusal and failure to be crucial experiences in his personal and professional development.

"Rejection can be a good teacher, and sometimes you almost need to seek it out to be freed from it," said Hammond. "When you see the High Line, I hope it reminds you that crazy dreams can come true."

The Class of 2012 is The New School's largest, with 3,258 degree recipients at all levels, in disciplines across the liberal arts, social sciences, art and design and the performing arts. Illustrative of The New School's recent transformation into a major degree-granting university with more than 10,000 students, this year's ceremony will introduce the first class of graduates of several new programs, including the MS in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management; MA in Fashion Studies; MFA in Fashion, Design and Society; and MFA in Transdisciplinary Design. In addition, this year university will graduate its first dual-degree M.Arch/MFA in Architecture and Lighting Design.

"As bearers of our proud, singular tradition of progressive education and civic engagement, I know that you will represent The New School in everything you do," said Van Zandt. "You are a part of an eclectic group of individuals who choose to study in a school that would prepare them to live their lives out front and in the service of others, to make a difference, to touch the world."

In addition to Hammond, degrees were granted to individuals whose contributions embody The New School's commitment to publicly engaged scholarship and social action: Robert Jay Lifton, founder of the field of psychohistory and author of more than 20 books including The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide and Destroying the World in Order to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism; Brooke Gladstone, co-host and managing editor of NPR's nationally broadcast On the Media and author of The Influencing Machine; and Ana L. Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women's Foundation, and former Executive Director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis.

To read the full text Hammond, Van Zandt, and student speaker Alexander Lloyd Gleason's speeches, visit www.newschool.edu/commencement

About The New School
The New School, a leading progressive university in New York City, was founded in 1919 as a center of intellectual and artistic freedom. Today The New School is still in the vanguard of innovation and experimentation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students in design and the social sciences, the humanities, management, and the performing arts and thousands of adult learners in continuing education courses. Committed to public engagement, The New School welcomes thousands of New Yorkers yearly to its celebrated public programs and maintains a global presence through its online learning programs, research institutes, and international partnerships. Learn more at www.newschool.edu.



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