New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told graduating students that it is artists and designers who will solve the world’s most pressing problems — namely global climate change, overpopulation, and political turmoil.
Sadik-Khan, who since 2007 has overseen the city’s 6,000 miles of roadway, gave the graduation remarks at Pratt’s 122nd annual Commencement.
“What’s most interesting about this moment for you is that one of the answers to these issues is the reassertion of the role of design innovation into society,” she said. “The arts, industrial design, graphic design, and architecture training you have are just what we need to address issues we face in the city and the world today.”
Pratt held Commencement on May 16 at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s west side. About 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students were honored, including about 1,100 students who graduated this semester, and approximately 300 who officially graduated in the summer and fall 2010 terms.
Pratt also awarded honorary degrees to Martin Friedman, former director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; Mildred Friedman, former curator of design and architecture of Walker Art Center; sculptor Tim Hawkinson; and Raymond McGuire, Citi head of global banking and a board member of several leading cultural institutions.
School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Debbie Rabina received the Distinguished Teacher Award. In her speech, Rabina focused on the intersection of art, design, and architecture with information science.
“If necessity is the mother of innovation then certainly the necessity behind every innovation you will contribute to the world, be it in the fine arts, photography, graphic art, package design or the many other fields you are now educated in, is a strong information system, which the innovator relies on,” she said “Information facilitates our human drive for self-improvement and innovation.”
Writing major Jennifer Stohlmann was the student speaker, having earned the Tribute to a Graduating Student award for her academic achievements as well as for her work as a resident assistant, and as an editor of Pratt’s literary magazine.
She told her fellow graduates that Pratt had prepared them well.
“Our training at Pratt has given us the luxury to see beauty everywhere we look. We leave here today in a position of great privilege because we have the potential to carry our vision forward, continuing to produce the beautiful and the useful,” she said.
Photos: René Perez
Video: Jonathan Weitz