Commencement!

And just like that, members of the Fletcher Class of 2019 are officially alumni! It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were busy convoking the academic year, and here we are already recapping the season’s most anticipated finale outside of Westeros. On the weather side of things, there’s mixed news to report. For Saturday’s Class Day festivities, we lucked into probably the nicest day we’ve had all spring. Sunny, warm, and just generally the kind of day that makes you want to hang around outside. For Commencement itself on Sunday, less so. While the big tent provides good protection from the vicissitudes of the sky, the ground makes itself felt in a downpour, too, and there are likely a few muddy pairs of Maglis and Manolos due for a cleaning this week.

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The Tufts campus readies for commencement

Commencement activities will take place at Tufts this weekend, and they’re on the radar either directly or indirectly for virtually all administrative corners of Fletcher. But even an out-of-the-loop, first-time visitor to Tufts this week would be able to tell that something’s afoot, with all the visible prep and last-minute campus beautification going on. To be fair, the window of decent weather in which to work prior to graduation is pretty small in this part of the country, and the several weeks of chill, rain, and gloom we’ve recently endured here hasn’t helped matters, but there’s nonetheless still something of a madcap quality to all the buzzing about and cosmetic improvements happening at the moment.

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GIS Poster Expo

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are amazingly powerful tools. Take a few moments to study a well-designed map, and you’ll be amazed by the amount of information it can simultaneously convey. Way back in my own Fletcher student days, I enrolled in the inaugural offering of GIS for International Applications at Fletcher, mostly out of curiosity and the desire to pick up the rudiments of a new skill set. While I haven’t gone on to do further GIS work, and while modest would be a charitable description of the mapping project I produced in that course, it did leave me with an understanding for and appreciation of the explanatory power of contemporary mapping technology and technique.

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Dean Stavridis’ portrait is unveiled

The official portrait of former Fletcher Dean James Stavridis was recently unveiled in a ceremony here, which the Dean himself attended. While I wasn’t able to make it to the event, I did get a chance to check out the latest addition to the Ginn Library Reading Room recently, before it gets hung to join other Deans past. It’s a good likeness, as we’d of course expect an official portrait to be. Having had the opportunity to get to know Dean Stavridis relatively well, I immediately noticed a few details and artistic choices that capture his particular bearing and personality.

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Classroom feedback with MALD student Diana and Prof. Ebrahim

Professor Alnoor Ebrahim is one of Fletcher’s most popular instructors. Don’t take my word for it: check him out receiving the Paddock Teaching Award (sort of the Best Professor Oscar at Fletcher) at last year’s commencement ceremonies. We were extremely fortunate to have him as a member of the Admissions Committee a few years ago, and his thoughtfulness was a huge asset to our work. It’s also on display during orientation week at the beginning of each academic year in the “Rules of Engagement” session he administers, in which he encourages new students to take a few moments to consider how they can create respectful and productive relationships with all members of the Fletcher community, including student colleagues, faculty, and administrators. He’s an expert at creating an inclusive and welcoming environment.

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Overheard in the Hall of Flags…

A recommendation I often give prospective students during their visits to Fletcher is to take some time just to hang out in the Hall of Flags between visiting classes, chatting with students over coffee, meeting with faculty members, and talking to us. Regular blog readers will know I’m big on the idea of “fit” between school and student, and fit can sometimes be a function of intangible qualities of a place that might not come through as much in more formal or structured meetings. Sometimes a place can just feel more right to you than another. I imagine the Hall of Flags to be a good barometer of the general feeling and energy level of Fletcher at any given time, and my hope is always that a casual stretch of downtime there will show prospective students that Fletcher is where they want to be.

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