Lensing Addresses December Graduates

They were a part of the campus rocked by the Sept. 11 attacks; they debated the controversial summer reading assignments, witnessed major changes in the honor code, and rode the roller coasters of success and disappointment with the major sports teams.

Perhaps most significantly, Carolina’s December graduates of 2004 saw the University’s horizons expand as student interest grew in the world beyond traditional borders. In the three years since 9/11, the number of students studying first-year Arabic tripled, George Lensing told the new graduates.

Lensing, Bowman and Gordon Gray professor of English and director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, told 1,337 graduates on Dec. 19 that “your generation understands perhaps better than mine that we as Americans cannot live in haughty isolation from the other languages and cultures of the world.”

Lensing urged the graduates to embrace “those who are different from, or even contrary to, our own familiar backgrounds and habits.”

His audience in the Smith Center included 651 undergraduates, 442 master’s degree recipients, 187 receiving doctoral degrees and 57 professional degree and certificate recipients.

“To those of you who have been hanging out at He’s Not Here,” Lensing said, “and giving that phone number to Mom and Dad so that, when they call, the bartender can say, ‘He’s not here,’ perhaps today you can explain to them what that establishment really is.”

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