With five weeks left in the semester, it makes perfect sense that Webster has announced this year’s commencement speakers. After the slight scandal involving last year’s commencement and the invitation of a certain Missouri politician named Bond, The Journal has been anxiously awaiting Webster’s decision. On Thursday April 5, Webster Today reported that Anne W. Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Egypt, will deliver the commencement speech.
Patterson will most likely not cause any protests, which is surely something Webster’s administrators realized. But in doing some research, The Journal sees several other reasons that make Patterson a solid choice for such an important occasion.
The ambassador has a record that exemplifies global citizenship. Since joining the Foreign Service in the 1970s, Patterson has served as ambassador to Colombia, El Salvador and Pakistan, and as well as Egypt where she currently serves. She was also an economic counselor in Saudi Arabia, the Assistant Secretary of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and a Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Each of these countries have both unique cultures and unique problems — whether economic, educational or human rights related. Having such a diverse range of experience should lend to a thoughtful and well-rounded commencement speech. Webster students should be able to find many topics from Patterson’s experience that will resonate.
But Patterson’s most recent experience in Egypt could be particularly poignant. As America finds itself in the center of bipartisan bickering leading up to the presidential election, The Journal finds the events of the Arab Spring revolution last year increasingly important. That whole movement was started by young people, using social media and technology in a way previously unseen.
As Webster’s class of 2012 looks to enter the “real world” in little over a month, Patterson’s speech has the potential to point out similarities and overlap between Egypt’s overthrow and America’s current political climate. The Journal hopes the graduates are as interested to hear Patterson speak as we are.
The Journal would also like to applaud Webster’s administration for including Joplin, Mo., mayor, Mike Woolston, in our commencement ceremony. After a tornado devastated his small town in Missouri, leaving more than 150 people dead, Woolston is deserving of any recognition out there. We like to see Webster can have a strong global presence while still remembering our local Missouri connections.