the new school commencement

Nate Silver Addresses Graduates — Best-Selling Author to Class of 2013:
"Don’t Do What the Previous Generation Did”

Nate Silver
Commencement Speaker Nate Silver, c. Jerry Speier, 2013

NEW YORK, May 24, 2013—Nate Silver, author of The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog and the recent bestseller The Signal and The Noise, addressed graduates and guests today at The New School’s 77th annual commencement ceremony. New School president David E. Van Zandt presided over the exercises, which were held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

In his address, Silver refuted Time columnist Joel Stein’s recent criticism of the “Millennial Generation” as “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.” With characteristic analytical insight, Silver held previous generations responsible for global challenges from the fragile economy to climate change—and found in these problems opportunities for graduates to make their mark.

Addressing in particular the enormous growth of data in recent years, Silver said, “The previous generation has not done a very good job of transforming all that data into useful knowledge. That’s going to be up to you.”

Silver called on graduates across disciplines to improve on the legacy of their predecessors: “Don’t do what the previous generation did, do better. Take their failures and turn it into your opportunity."


The class of 2013 is one of The New School’s largest, with 3,263 graduates from 76 counties receiving diplomas in disciplines in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, and the performing arts. This year’s ceremony also included the first class of graduates from two new degree programs: the Bachelor of Science in Urban Design and the Master of Science in Media Management. The university now offers more than 90 degree-granting programs.

Our present and future challenges, and the emerging creative economy, will rely on those who can understand human needs; bring people together to collaborate; activate ideas; seize problems; take risks; learn from failure; and continually redefine success according to new terms,” said President Van Zandt. “New School graduates, the world poses no shortage of challenges, but there is great reason for optimism knowing you are out there.”

Along with Silver, honorary degrees were presented to three individuals whose original perspectives and significant contributions embody The New School’s dedication to public action and critical thinking: Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr, co-founder of Hunch, and one of Time magazine’s 2006 “Time 100,” which lists the world’s 100 most influential people; Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, a prominent advocate for global internet freedom and one of Business Week’s 2008 “25 Most Influential People on the Web”; and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library and author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America.

Founded in 1919, The New School was born out of principles of academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. Committed to social engagement, The New School today remains in the vanguard of innovation in higher education, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students challenging the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The New School welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and calendar of lectures, screenings, readings, and concerts. Through its online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence. Learn more at

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