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At the first Old Dominion University commencement held in the new Ted Constant Convocation Center, speaker Steve Coll, managing editor of The Washington Post, told the 2,100 graduates that the country needs their leadership and their questions.

"I'm sure you sense, as you graduate today, that your generation is leaving school as America enters a new time," he said. "More than ever, we need your leadership. More than ever, we need your questions."

Coll's remarks came after he and Frank Batten, founder and retired chairman of the board of Landmark Communications, received honorary degrees from the university.

Coll compared the graduates to the classes of 1914, 1940 and 1962.

"Yours is a class that will have to redefine America's relationship with the rest of the world," he observed. "You will inherit America's power, and America's ideas, and you will have to decide what to do with them."

Noting the September 11 attacks and the ensuing war against terrorism, Coll told the audience, "American ideas are ascendant in the world as never before. They are also under assault as never before. This is the knot your generation will have to unravel.

"I'm an optimist and it is people like you who, and scenes like this that renew my optimism about our future together. I feel sure that you can take us where we need to go, as long as you pause long enough to ask a few questions."

The 97th commencement exercises at Old Dominion, the ceremony also marked the first time in more than a decade that all the graduates names were called and the graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

This article was posted on: December 15, 2002

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