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Seize opportunities and experience them to the fullest
April 27, 1998

Juilliard School President Joseph William Polisi urged students to seize all the opportunities the University offers to them and experience them to the fullest.

"Experience the arts on campus and throughout the region," Polisi said. "The power of the arts to transform and evoke a response in humans has lead civilization to make it a part of our most important activities.

Polisi, a UConn graduate, made his remarks in the keynote speech at the fifth annual Scholars' Day ceremony on April 20 at Jorgensen Auditorium. The ceremony honored more than 880 high-achieving students at the University.

The ceremony honored 36 students who have been named Babbidge Scholars for achieving a perfect 4.0 grade-point average for both the spring and fall semesters of 1997. The scholars are named after the late Homer D. Babbidge Jr, who was UConn's president from 1962-1972.

The University also recognized 833 students from the six UConn campuses as New England Scholars, students who have achieved a grade-point average of at least 3.5 for both the spring and fall semesters of 1997.

In addition, the University honored 19 students recently named as University Scholars candidates. The University Scholars program enables highly motivated students to pursue unusually ambitious and personally important programs of study. It is one of the most competitive and prestigious academic programs available to students at UConn.

In his welcoming remarks, UConn President Philip E. Austin said, "Everything that occurs in an institution of higher learning ought to be consistent with the pursuit of excellence, and by your achievements, you allow us to celebrate our own successes.

Polisi became the sixth president of New York's Juilliard School in 1984, bringing to that position his previous experience as a college administrator, as a scholar in the fields of music and political science, and as an accomplished bassoonist. He received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from UConn in 1969. He holds three graduate degrees in music from Yale, having completed his doctor of musical arts in 1980, a master of musical arts in 1975, and a master of music in 1973. He also has a master of arts degree in international relations from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

"We live live in a society today that evidences little effort to make a distinction between art and entertainment, achievement and fame, liberal and vocational education, quality and quantity," Polisi said. "Great works of art are a summation of the human condition. The understanding of these art works represents a cultivated intellect, sharpened perception, and sensitized emotion, all attributes that represent the highest goals of a liberal education.

Polisi told students to liberate their creativity and to be communicative and innovative. "Essentially it will be your values that anchor you, that determine how you approach opportunities and pitfalls and how you ethically determine your correctly chosen paths," he said.

Cyrus Ernesto Zirakzadeh, director of the Honors Program, who served as Master of Ceremonies said the students being honored "have made education very exciting for us. They make us think and bring honor to the University.

Also on Scholars' Day, three faculty members received awards as Teaching Fellows for the 1997-98 academic year: James Henkel, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, associate dean of the Graduate School and associate vice provost for graduate education and research; David Miller, professor of psychology, and Katharina von Hammerstein, an associate professor of modern and classical languages. The fellows were selected by the Institute for Teaching and Learning for their excellence in instruction and their dedication to the teaching profession.

Sherry Fisher