National education leader Dr. Arthur Levine called on Piedmont College graduates to help build a new world—better than the world of their parents and professors—during a summer Commencement ceremony held July 23 at the campus in Demorest.
Levine is president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, which is helping to train teachers in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—in Georgia’s high-need areas. Piedmont College is one of five Georgia colleges selected by the Wilson Foundation to participate in the program, and Sunday’s graduation ceremony in Demorest included the first 11 Woodrow Wilson Fellows to receive Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees.
Before joining the Wilson Foundation, Dr. Levine served as president and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University; and he served as chair of the higher education program and chair of the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the author of numerous books and studies on education and the preparation of school leaders, teachers, and education researchers.
“I am a real admirer of Piedmont College,” Levine said. “I think it has created one of the most important teacher education programs in America. This is the first class of Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows graduating [in Georgia], and we are extraordinarily proud of you.”
“We are living through a period of profound, swift, unseasoned, and unprecedented economic, demographic, technological and global change,” Levine told the graduates. “The United States has experienced a dramatic transition from an industrial to an information economy, and the results are that the jobs requiring little education are disappearing. The fastest growing jobs require more education and higher skills than ever before in history.”
“Now, this country isn’t ready for that. Georgia isn’t ready for that,” Levine said. “More young people need to graduate from high school and need to graduate from college. They need the skills and knowledge to thrive in this society. … At the same time this globe is shrinking. Who would have guessed that if you opened a factory in China it would cost jobs in Georgia? America for the first time in history is inextricably intertwined in a global society. Small changes in remote corners of the world change our daily lives.”
“New technologies are burgeoning,” Levine said. “In less than 20 years Americans with cell phones rose from less than one-tenth of one percent of the population to more than 90 percent. In 15 years, Google went from being an idea to billions of searches. In 25 years, the number of web sites went from one to more than a billion. You know it. New technologies have changed everything—from how we are born, how we die, how we live our daily lives, how we date, how we shop, how we entertain ourselves, how we pay our bills, how we communicate, how we study. And the pace of technological changes is only going to increase. When you look back in the decades to come, it’s going to seem primitive.”
“We need your help dreaming, designing and developing a new world tied together by technology,” he said. “These new realities, which are inescapable, create extraordinary opportunities and extraordinary challenges. We need your abilities, we need your imaginations to create the first global society and ensure America’ place in that society.
“Now this is a bewildering panoply of changes. Your generation is living simultaneously in two worlds—one that is fading away—the world in which most of your parents and professors grew up—and another that is being born—the world that many of you have grown up in. … We need you to build this new world to make it a better world than today’s. So this morning we’ve come together not only to applaud your achievements but to celebrate the skills and the knowledge and the possibilities that you bring to us.”
Following Levine’s address, President James F. Mellichamp and Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas A. “Gus” Arrendale III presented diplomas to 295 students earning Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Nursing, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees. For Commencement photos, visit www.piedmont.edu/news.
About Piedmont College
One of the most dynamic small colleges in the Southeast, Piedmont is an independent liberal arts college of more than 2,260 students. The college’s four schools—Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, and Nursing & Health Sciences—develop tomorrow’s leaders by engaging students in the classroom, in their community, and around the world. Founded in 1897, Piedmont offers bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degree programs at its Demorest residential campus in the foothills of the northeast Georgia mountains and at its Athens campus in the heart of Georgia’s Classic City.