Norwich University will celebrate commencement and commissioning with ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, May 12-13, in Shapiro Field House. Both events are free and open to the public.
At a 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 12, U.S. Navy Admiral (Ret.) and Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University James G. Stavridis will deliver the university’s 2018 Commencement address to over 400 graduating seniors. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Naval Science degree.
Stavridis is a retired United States Navy admiral and the current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He serves as the chief international diplomacy and national security analyst for NBC News in New York. He is also chairman of the board of the U.S. Naval Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He is an associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Stavridis retired from the Navy in 2013 after 37 years of service and became dean of The Fletcher School in summer 2013. He is the author of several best-selling books, including: “The Accidental Admiral;” “The Leader’s Bookshelf;” and “Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans.”
He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He is author or co-author of several books on naval ship handling and leadership, including “Command at Sea,” “Destroyer Captain,” and “Partnership for the Americas” about Latin America.
At 9 a.m. Sunday, during a joint services commissioning ceremony, Norwich’s future officers will hear remarks from one of their own.
U.S. Marine Lieutenant General John J. Broadmeadow ’83 returns to the Norwich campus to speak to ROTC commissioning officers commissioning into the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines and their families during a formal ceremony to mark the occasion on Sunday, May 13, at 9 a.m.
In his address, the Marine officer will touch on themes of service to nation and the importance of a military commission.
About Norwich University
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Norwich will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders, Norwich launched the Forging the Future campaign in 2014. The five-year campaign, which is timed to culminate in 2019, is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities and is designed to enhance the university’s strong position as it steps into its third century of service to the nation.
Daphne E. Larkin M’17
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Q & A WITH PLAYWRIGHT JEANNE BECKWITH
English professor Jeanne Beckwith has taught at Norwich since 2002. A produced and published playwright, her works have been performed in New York City, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, Vermont, Turkey, and on the Norwich University stage. In addition, she is the technical director for the Pegasus Players Theater Troupe. Jeanne and her husband, F. Brett Cox—a fellow playwright, English professor, and fiction writer—live in Roxbury, Vt. We caught up with Jeanne shortly after she returned from a theater conference in Valdez, Alaska. While there, she attended a staged reading of her long one-act play, The Back Room.
How did you get started writing for the stage?
I had written a novel. A friend of mine read it and said, “Your dialogue is your strength,” so I decided to rewrite it as a play. I did and it won a contest. It was my first successful full-length play. I have written about eight full-length plays and a couple of dozen short plays. All of which have been produced.
What brought you to Norwich?
We were living in Alabama and were not happy. One of my daughters was at a summer camp near Brandon, Vt. After we visited her we toured the state and just fell in love with it. We started applying to jobs, and Norwich called Brett for an interview. We love it; we love Norwich. We like the structure that there is. It works really well.
What excites you about writing for the stage?
I just love creating that whole world in my head. I love seeing it performed. I love hearing my words.
What do you like about teaching?
Watching students figure out that they can do it. Especially English composition; I enjoy challenging and pushing students to do more, and encouraging the students who think they can’t write, and then watching them feel that self-confidence when they do.
What do you enjoy about working with the Pegasus Players?
There’s nothing that helps a playwright better than working in theater—with actors, with directors—and seeing what’s happening. We get to be a pretty close-knit group. It’s always fun. There is no theater major at Norwich, so we get a mix of students from across all academic disciplines, both cadets and civilians. My heart always soars when I get an architect or an engineer who wants to do theater. They get a great deal of creative satisfaction out of it.
What is the worst calamity that has happened during a live production that you were involved in?
I was directing a production of The Secret Garden, and in the middle of a Sunday matinee performance the backstage crew accidentally set off a smoke alarm, sending the entire audience outside with lights flashing, horns going off, and a women’s voice calmly announcing over the PA system: “Please proceed to the nearest exit.” We couldn’t start the show again until the fire department had cleared us. But everyone came back!
What are you most proud of?
I am awfully proud of my body of work, but I also have four beautiful daughters who have all been successful in life. They have a good sense of humor, and they all have creative outlets. That, and the fact that I have never given up.
Assuming you could dictate fate, what would be the pinnacle of your career?
That I have a play done on Broadway or one of the legitimate Off-Broadway venues. That would be fabulous ... and then someone would buy the movie rights!
The Pegasus Players have taken their final bow on the stage of Dole Auditorium. In April, the venerated Norwich theater troupe mounted a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, their final show marking the last play to be performed on the Dole stage. In the following weeks, Dole was dismantled as part of the Webb-Dewey-Ainsworth renovation.
The decommissioning of Dole Auditorium and the December retirement of Professor Helen Caudill truly mark the end of an era. In 2016, Caudill handed her long-held post of Pegasus Players director over to Jeanne Beckwith, a playwright and Norwich English instructor, as well as the troupe’s long-serving technical director. Beckwith, as interim director, guided the Pegasus Players through their final generation on the Dole stage. But when one era ends, another begins. With a brand-new stage in the works, and under the guidance of incoming Professor Jeff Casey, the Pegasus Players will carry on, even in the temporary, one-year absence of a performance space. With necessity as the mother of invention, Shakespeare on the steps of Jackman, perhaps?
BY JACQUE E. DAY
The Norwich Record | Summer 2017
BY SEAN MARKEY
The Norwich Record | Winter 2018
A place for focused effort, experimentation, exploration, and discovery. If anything in the Humanities fits the definition of a lab, it’s theater. “It’s a laboratory art,” says Assistant Professor of Theater Jeffry Casey. “You can take risks and try new things.” In November, Casey directed actors in the Norwich student theater troupe the Pegasus Players in a production of two short Harold Pinter plays, Party Time and New World Order. The works explore authoritarianism and torture while grappling with the theme of power. Casey, who joined the Norwich faculty in July, says producing theater at a university like Norwich is an opportunity to expose future military and civilian leaders to ideas through art. “Nothing is more important than [how] they think about power and what it means [to] have power and what it means to be complicit in injustice or justice.”
Casey, who also teaches classes on public speaking, writing, and literature, says he wants to push theater at Norwich into other arenas. He has already visited ESL classes and says theater students could support other campus programs in countless ways. “We live in a world of non-scarcity in some ways with so many products, particularly culture,” he says. “But theater is a scarce resource, and that makes it more valuable.”
BY SEAN PRENTISS
The Norwich Record | Summer 2015
Before I became a professor at Norwich, before I bought a home on a little lake in Vermont, I was a child of the Delaware River. I swam in its warm waters each summer. Most days that the river was unfrozen, I’d push my battered aluminum canoe into the river, and I’d paddle the stillwaters near Jack’s Hill. Other days, through the class III rapids of Foul Rift. Once, some cousins and I flipped a canoe there in Foul Rift, wrapped it around a rock. We ended up swimming.
But my history with the Delaware stretches back further than just my birth. Eleven generations before me, my seven-times great-grandfather moved from Germany to the Rift. So the Delaware is not just my birth river, it is my historic river. Where others have blood in their veins, my heart pumps silty river water.
Nearly a decade ago, I decided to canoe all 200 miles of the Delaware, to learn my river. So one July day, I slid a Wenonah canoe into the current near Hancock, N.Y., and pushed into the riffles, waving good-bye to mother, sister, and niece. Soon, I was gone to the pull of the river.
Those first days, I paddled the wide, shallow Delaware. Hours, I’d push the canoe downriver. Nights, I’d slide my canoe into weeds, find a patch of sand for my bivy sack. After a quick dinner and a swim, I’d watch the stars unfold.
Some days my mother joined me. At a curve in the river, we watched a doe and a fawn swim. Later, we paddled Skinner’s Falls, which, according to the guidebook is "one of the most severe on the Delaware River." Before we knew it, we were on the other side, wet and smiling.
After Mom left, I serpentined through the Delaware River National Recreation Area. There, I passed Tock’s Island, a nondescript landmass of gravel and trees. Decades ago, the government envisioned a dam here, a reservoir, a nuclear power plant to feed the power-hungry beasts of New York and Boston. But activists stopped that project before the first shovel stole dirt. As I passed Tock’s Island, I said a quiet prayer that sounded like "Thank you" or "Never again." The Delaware is forever America’s longest undammed river, a free river.
On the sixth day, I neared home, in the exact middle of my journey. The sky wore the gray, red, pink, and orange of sunset. Two eagles circled overhead. As recently as a decade before, there had been no eagles on the Delaware. Or herons, beaver, or bear. Driven off by years of industrial pollution, the wildlife had at long last begun to return. I stopped paddling and realized the river had ceased flowing. Not forward, not backward, not the sideways of an eddy. Completely stopped. A minute. Two. Three. Unmoving. A heron jumped from the bank. Flew upriver.
Only then did the river release me.
After a night in my own bed, I put the canoe back in for the second half of the journey, the final hundred miles. The canoe, the current, the pull of the ocean, carried me between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. That tangle of islands. Quiet beaches. Buckshot stars through sycamore branches.
Then the urban buildup of Trenton, brackish water, a railroad bridge. My mother, sister, and niece waving from shore. The final rapids. The rocky river bottom. The canoe scrapping land. I stepped out and drew the canoe ashore. My legs wobbly from canoeing. My legs, my heart, pleading for more river to paddle. –s.p.