Ian Rawson to speak at commencement

After much anticipation, the 2010 commencement speaker was announced last Friday. Ian Rawson, the managing director of Haiti’s Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, will give the keynote address.

Rawson has many ties to the Pittsburgh area. He is a long-time resident of the city and has a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in medical anthropology. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the American University of Beirut, Rawson also attended Harvard University’s School of Public Health executive program in health planning and administration.

Additionally, Rawson has specific ties to the Carnegie Mellon community. Rawson has been an adjunct professor in the Heinz College and an advisory board member of TechBridgeWorld.

Rawson’s involvement in Haiti stems from his parents’ interests in the country. Rawson’s stepfather and mother, William Larimer Mellon, Jr. and Gwen Grant Mellon, dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life in Haiti after being inspired by Albert Schweitzer’s exemplary efforts in central Africa. The Mellons founded Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in 1956. Rawson was the board chair of the hospital before becoming the managing director.

“Ian Rawson has led the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti for many years,” University President Jared Cohon said in a Carnegie Mellon press release. “He has worked tirelessly and literally non-stop since the devastation of the January earthquake to treat the injured and to care for thousands of refugees. His is a story of leadership and selfless dedication that will inspire and motivate us to respond to the challenges facing the world.”

Student reactions to the announcement are diverse. Senior electrical and computer engineering major Arda Orhan simply responded, “I don’t care.” Eric Blood, a senior mechanical engineering major, had a slightly disappointed reaction. “I was not excited because I usually look forward to someone that isn’t affiliated with campus,” Blood said. “People affiliated with campus, we can see them at lecture series or classes. I’m sure he’s qualified, but I was looking forward to someone from the outside.”

Amy Maples, a senior chemical engineering and engineering and public policy major, was uncertain about the university’s choice. “I think that a politician or comedian is a better choice because they give speeches for a living. But I don’t know anything about him, so I can’t say.”

Carnegie Mellon’s 113th commencement ceremony is set for May 16 at 11 a.m. in Gesling Stadium.