thank you fresno city college – transcript of robert cargill’s 2011 fcc commencement address

Fresno City CollegeI offer my heartfelt thanks to Fresno City College for this honor.

I was truly humbled by being named one of Fresno City College’s 100 Stars for 100 Years late last year, and I am once again humbled and honored to be named 2011’s Distinguished Alumnus and for being invited to speak as the 2011 commencement speaker.

As one who has experienced every level of California public education:

  • John Adams Elementary (Madera, CA)
  • Thomas Jefferson Jr. High (Madera, CA)
  • Madera High School (Madera, CA)
  • Bullard High School (Fresno, CA)
  • Fresno City College (A.A.)
  • California State University, Fresno (B.S. Human Physiology)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (M.A., Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations; Ph.D., Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)

I can attest to the fact that the California public education system works. California public education can continue to be the premier education system in the country, but only if we continue to fund our teachers and students, and only if we do not seek to bail out our state’s fiscal mismanagement by forcing our educational system to bear the brunt of the financial burden. California’s public universities (Junior Colleges, CSUs, and UCs) should not have to pay for California’s fiscal missteps elsewhere.

Education is the magic bullet in the heart of poverty, socio-economic inequality, racial tension, social and religious intolerance, and unemployment, but we must continue to fund our public universities at all three levels or else risk mortgaging the future of our state to avoid some present discomfort.

Special thanks to President Anthony Cantú for the invitation, Vice President Christopher Villa for the warm introduction, and to Kathy Bonilla and Ernie Garcia for making the entire experience flawless. Thank you to Ray Appleton for having me on his show. Thank you again for this honor. I hope that I can continue to advocate on behalf of public education for years to come.

Below is the text of my 2011 Commencement Address:


2011 FRESNO CITY COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D., UCLA

President Cantú, Marshal Larson, Vice President Villa, Members of the Board of Trustees and President Smith, Parents and Relatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, and most importantly, members of the Fresno City College graduating class of 2011: thank you for the honor you’ve bestowed upon me today, and for the invitation to address this commencement ceremony this evening.

Graduates, I am you, 18 years from now.

18 years ago, I received my Associates degree from Fresno City College. And since then, my life has had its ups and downs.

I am 38 years old, married, divorced, and now married to my wife, who makes me both proud and very happy. I have a daughter, and now a son on the way. I bought a house, sold it for a profit, and used the money to buy a new house, which is now underwater.

I am you, 18 years from now.

I have experienced tremendous successes, and some terrible failures. I have gotten to meet many fascinating people throughout my young career, and I’ve watched many people dear to me die long before their time. I have done things of which I am incredibly proud, and I have made decisions I truly regret.

I am you, 18 years from now.

After receiving my AA, I enrolled at Fresno State and received my Bachelors in Human Physiology following a pre-med curriculum. Wanting to pursue matters of faith, I enrolled in Pepperdine University and completed my Master of Divinity degree. I experienced both the boom and the bust of the dot com bubble. Wanting to study biblical literature and archaeology, I enrolled in UCLA and earned an MA and PhD in these fields, and now, having taught at UCLA for the past few years, I have accepted a position to teach Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Iowa. But all of that – ALL OF IT – began right here at Fresno City College.

I am you, 18 years from now.

I enjoy the things you enjoy. I like watching the Fresno Grizzlies play ball. I love playing Angry Birds obsessively every time I pick up my phone, planking various landmarks in the Tower district, and like you, I am always quick to argue against anyone who even hints at cutting funding for education and for California’s Community Colleges.

I ask the same questions that you ask. Will she love me? Or will she leave me? Will I be rich? Will I make my parents proud? Will my children be proud of me? The only thing I possess that you do not is nearly two decades of experiences that all began with me sitting right where you are right now, because I am you 18 years from now.

So if I may, I’d like to share with you 3 things I’ve learned over the past 18 years that may help you in your next 18 years:

Number one: Be nice. Be kind. We live in an aggressive and cynical world, especially when we are young. We are taught to compete for jobs, compete for partners, and compete for goods. And yes, you have to compete in life. But while you are competing, be nice. There is nothing more comforting, nothing more disarming, and nothing more enjoyable than someone who is kind. Be kind. Be patient. Don’t go off when you’re wronged, but give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t set out to “earn respect.” Simple kindness will make far better impressions on people than any harsh words you might use. So be kind. It’s simple, it’s free, and it will do more for you than just about anything else you can possibly do.

Number two: Be proud of having attended Fresno City College, and of being from Fresno. We get to make fun of our hometown. Letterman can make fun of New York because he lives there. Conan can make fun of Los Angeles. And we all can certainly tease about Fresno because we’re from here. We carry the membership card. But never apologize for being from this beautiful, vibrant, diverse town. Never apologize for having to work hard to earn what you have. Apologize when you’ve wronged someone. Apologize when you’ve hurt someone’s feelings. But, be proud having attended City College. It only makes you stronger, and when you make it, it will only make those around you all the more impressed. Be proud of Fresno and be proud of Fresno City College.

Number three: Say thank you. Be gracious. There is an Arab saying which says: “Blessed is the one who can say thank you in a thousand languages.” People love to be thanked, and people love to be around grateful people. So say thank you to your parents for raising you. Say thank you to your friends for sticking up for you, and covering for you, and for supporting you. Be sincere, look people in the eye, and say thank you.

And if you’ll allow me, I’d like to practice what I preach and take this opportunity to say thank you to a few people.

First, thank you to my coaches, Ron Scott, Eric Solberg, and Mike Noakes. I played baseball for these coaches at Fresno City College and Bullard High School. These men not only taught me to play baseball, but how to compete with character and confidence in life. Thank you Coach Scott, Coach Solberg, and Coach Noakes.

Thank you to Reuben Scott, who taught me to argue both sides of every issue. I came to Fresno City College knowing how to argue my side of an issue, but Reuben Scott taught me to understand opinions other than my own, and to write and argue cogently, to the point, and on the merits of the argument. He taught me to think critically, and for this I am eternally grateful. Thank you Reuben Scott.

And finally, I would not be here this evening, and I would not be a professor today, were it not for this evening’s Faculty Marshal, and my Western Civ. professor, Mr. Don Larson. I love this man for more reasons than I can count. For one, to me, this man is Fresno City College. I took Mr. Larson for Western Civilization, and on the first day of class he said, “I can love you and give you a ‘C’ and I can not like you, and give you an ‘A’. You will get the grade that you earn, and earn the grade that you get.”

Well, Mr. Larson must have really liked me, because he gave me a ‘C’. (Oh no, I haven’t forgotten.) But Mr. Larson also invited me to talk to him whenever I needed advice, or guidance, or just someone to listen. His facilitation of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings greatly influenced me by introducing me to successful role models, and afternoons spent at his home talking about religion and politics helped to frame many of my present positions on these topics.

By the way, you must visit Mr. Larson’s home during Christmas time. If you haven’t seen it, just imagine all of Christmas Tree Lane crammed neatly inside a single house. That is Mr. Larson’s house at Christmas time.

After my days at Fresno City College, Mr. Larson became a lifelong friend and mentor, and although I have not yet mastered the art of your ever-present bow tie, you have meant more to me than you will ever know. You are the most fair, honest, upright, and faithful man I know, and I want to take this very public opportunity to say to you, “Thank you.” Thank you Mr. Larson.

By the way, if you haven’t yet come up with a name for the renovated Old Administration Building, I’ve got a suggestion: how about the “Don Larson Administration Building”? I’m pretty sure he was already teaching here in 1916 when they built it, so you might as well name it after him. Thank you again, Mr. Larson.

So when you leave tonight, hug your parents and say thank you. Find a teacher who has taught you and say thank you. Find a friend who studied with you and say thank you. Be kind to them, and always be proud of what you’ve accomplished here at Fresno City College. And while I know it is incredibly cliché, go forth from here tonight knowing that you really can be whatever you want to be. Do these things and who knows what your next 18 years will bring.

Thank you again, and congratulations to you graduates on your hard work and your graduation from Fresno City College. Thank you.


Dr. Robert R. Cargill delivers the 2011 Fresno City College commencement address at Selland Arena, May 20, 2011.

2011 Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Robert R. Cargill delivers the Fresno City College commencement address at Selland Arena, May 20, 2011.

Sharon Cargill, Roslyn (and MacLaren) Cargill, Robert Cargill, and Don Larson

Sharon Cargill, Roslyn (and MacLaren) Cargill, Robert Cargill, and Don Larson

congratulations to dr. jeremy smoak, inaugural winner of the asor aviram prize for best paper

Dr. Jeremy Smoak, UCLA

Dr. Jeremy Smoak, UCLA, was awarded the Aviram Prize for best paper

Congratulations to UCLA’s Dr. Jeremy Smoak, who has been awarded ASOR’s inaugural Aviram Prize for best paper of the year. Dr. Smoak’s paper is entitled, “May Yahweh Bless You and Guard You from Evil: The Structure and Content of Ketef Hinnom Amulet I and the Background of the Prayers for Deliverance in the Psalms.” The paper compares the rhetorical structure of the amulet from Ketef Hinnom to several Psalms that petition Yahweh for protection against evil. The paper will be presented at the 2011 ASOR annual meeting in San Francisco this November, and will be published in the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions within the next year.

Joseph Aviram

Joseph Aviram

The Dorot Foundation announced its sponsorship of the prize earlier this year. The Aviram Prize, administered by the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), was established to honor Joseph Aviram, who has held the positions of Director and President of the Israel Exploration Society (IES), an organization to which he has devoted the past seventy years.

(Abraham Rabinovich wrote an excellent article on Aviram for the Jerusalem Post back in April 2011.)

The Aviram Prize is awarded by a committee of distinguished scholars to the paper “that most advances the scholarship of its given field.”

Congratulations to Dr. Smoak on this honor.

iowa!

Iowa_HawkeyesRoslyn and I (and baby MacLaren) are pleased to announce that we will be leaving California for Iowa this fall. I have accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies with an emphasis in the Digital Humanities at the University of Iowa. We are excited to be headed to Iowa and are thankful to UCLA for the time we’ve spent here. My daughter, Talitha, has given us her blessing. Prof. Tiggens is as of yet undecided.

Moving from UCLA to Iowa means many changes are in store. I hear the weather is a bit different. My school colors change a little from blue and gold to black and gold. I switch from being a Bruin to a Hawkeye. And I’m definitely going to have to redesign my California flag themed web page.

We are excited about the future and moving forward. Thanx again to everyone at UCLA who made the past nine years so wonderful, and to all the friends and colleagues I’ve made over the past few years. I look forward to making new friends and working with my new colleagues in Iowa.

-bc

UCLA Summer 2011 Course: Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Judaism with Dr. Robert R. Cargill

Course: Jewish Studies 170: Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Judaism
Instructor: Dr. Robert R. Cargill, UCLA
Date: Summer 2011, Block A (June 20 – July 29, 2011)
Time: MW – 12:00 to 2:15 pm
Room: Public Affairs 2270

Qumran Tower

The Reconstructed Tower at Qumran, facing southeast

Course Description:
This 4-unit course introduces the Dead Sea Scrolls and their relationship with early Jewish movements. The course will include extensive reading of the Scrolls in English translation (with discussion of some key Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words), an examination of the archaeology of the site of Qumran, and a survey of the broader sociopolitical context of Second Temple Judaism (586 BCE – 135 CE) out of which the scrolls emerged. The history of the discovery of the scrolls will be discussed, as will the interpretative methods used by scholars studying the scrolls over the past 60 years. The class will explore issues of Jewish sectarianism, canon and “scripture,” the role of the Temple, the place of the Torah, the re-writing of texts, interpretation of prophecy, messianic expectation(s), liturgy, and will compare and contrast the text of the scrolls with early Christian and Rabbinic texts.

The course makes extensive use of virtual reconstructions of the archaeological site of Qumran and digitized texts. Each lecture will be video cast on iTunes U and exams are taken online via CCLE/Moodle.

Please contact Prof. Robert R. Cargill at cargill@humnet.ucla.edu for more info.

Click here for a .pdf flier of the course. Click here for the registrar’s course information.

ucla digital humanities twitter project preserves voices of egyptian protesters

UCLA Hypercities Egypt

UCLA Hypercities Egypt

A front page story by Jonathan Lloyd on the NBC Los Angeles website highlights a UCLA Digital Humanities project that is using Twitter to preserve the voices of the protesters in Egypt.

The Hypercities Egypt project streams Twitter updates and overlays them on a digital map of Cairo.

My UCLA DH colleague, Yoh Kowano, explains how it works in this video. He says:

“You just let the program run, and you almost feel like you’re there,” explained Yoh Kawano, a member of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities program, who built the program’s interface. “It collects tweets live from Cairo and displays them in real time on a map.”

A story by UCLA’s Meg Sullivan offers more details:

Subtitled “Voices from Cairo through Social Media,” the program displays a new tweet every four seconds over a digital map of Egypt’s capital. Because it gathers tweets from those who have enabled Twitter’s “add location” function, the program also maps the precise location in Cairo from which they were sent. And the Twitter users’ avatars — often photos of the protesters themselves — accompany the poignant messages, providing a moving immediacy to the experience.

Visit the site here.

new digital humanities minor and grad certificate program at ucla

The UCLA Center for Digital Humanities Website (cdh.ucla.edu)

The UCLA Center for Digital Humanities Website (cdh.ucla.edu)

UCLA has approved a new undergraduate minor in Digital Humanities. The university has also approved a graduate certificate program in DH, which is akin to a minor within a graduate degree in a Humanities-related field.

In a Daily Bruin article entitled, Humanities Joins the Digital Age with New Minor, Cody Geib describes how the new minor focuses on the relationship between technology and society. The minor certifies the ever increasing need for knowledge about digital forms of Humanities instruction and research.

As one of the nation’s premier research universities, UCLA has become a world leader in the Digital Humanities and one of the only universities to offer both an undergrad minor and grad certificate in Digital Humanities. The minor and grad certificate add to UCLA’s existing DH presence, which include DH-related centers like the Center for Digital Humanities (CDH), Academic Technology Services (ATS), Experiential Technology Center (ETC), Common Collaboration and Learning Environment (CCLE), College Library Instructional Computing Commons (CLICC), Institute for Digital Research and Education: Humanities, Arts and Architecture, Social and Information Sciences (IDRE-HAASIS), Office of Instructional Development (OID), Office of Instructional Technology (OIT), as well as DH research projects like Digital Karnak, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology (UEE), Ancient Egyptian Architecture Online (AEGARON), Qumran Visualization Project (QVP), Hypercities, Sites of (re)Collection, Korean Folklore Online Archive, Digital Roman Forum, Far From Moscow, and many more.

Visit the CDH Website (cdh.ucla.edu) for more information about the DH minor and grad certificate program.

ucla to receive $100 million donation from meyer and renee luskin

Renee and Meyer Luskin donated $100 million to the UCLA School of Public Affairs and the construction of a residential conference center. (Photo credit: UCLA)

Renee and Meyer Luskin donated $100 million to the UCLA School of Public Affairs and the construction of a residential conference center. (Photo credit: UCLA)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Renee and Meyer Luskin, who announced today that they will donate $100 million to the UCLA School of Public Affairs and toward the construction of a new residential conference center and faculty club.

$50 million of the gift will go to the School of Public Affairs, 90% of which will go:

toward endowed professorships, graduate student fellowships and other academic programs.

Luskin said it is important for the university to devote more resources to solving community problems, which he said are so complex that minds across many disciplines, including public policy and economics, are needed to deal with them.

The gift will also go toward building a hotel and conference center atop a remodeled faculty club.

The other half of Luskin’s donation will help fund the proposed residential conference center and faculty club to host academic meetings on campus.

The facility will stand six stories tall when completed, and will consist of meeting rooms, conference space and almost 300 hotel rooms. It will replace the 50-year-old Faculty Center, which is one of the only single-story buildings on campus.

Given the fact that it is impossible to find affordable hotels in Westwood Village close to campus, this conference center and hotel will be a tremendous help for university departments who want to host distinguished lecturers and scholars visiting from other universities. The gift will also free up other university funds to address financial issues that will stem from California Governor Brown’s proposed $500 million cut to the University of California system.

The Luskin’s donation is the second largest donation ever given to UCLA, coming nine years after David Geffen gave a record $200 million to the UCLA School of Medicine for research.

Thank you again to Renee and Meyer Luskin for your generosity!

video from the 1-11-11 coptic prayer vigil in westwood village, ca

I have uploaded a short video from last night’s Coptic candlelight prayer vigil in Westwood Village, CA (corner of Wilshire and Veteran) near UCLA on Jan. 11, 2011. The vigil was to commemorate those Coptic Christians slain at a New Year’s Eve mass in Alexandria, Egypt.

Read the report on the terrorist suicide bombing here.

You should also read about the wonderful expression of solidarity and social justice exhibited by the Egyptian Muslim community, who gave themselves as human shields so that their Coptic Christian brothers and sisters could worship in peace.

It is essential that we promote expressions of support for all those who are victims of religious oppression, regardless of faith tradition. Likewise, it is imperative that we promote nonviolent expressions of resistance to all forms of religious and intellectual intolerance.

Winter 2011 Jerusalem Class with Dr. Robert Cargill starts today at UCLA

The Winter 2011 offering of ANNEA 10W: Jerusalem, the Holy City with Dr. Robert R. Cargill begins today at 12:30pm in Haines A2.

This course surveys the religious, political, and cultural history of Jerusalem over three millennia as a symbolic focus of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course content will focus on the transformation of sacred space as reflected by literary and archaeological evidence by examining the testimony of artifacts, architecture, and iconography in relation to the written word. We will study the creation of mythic Jerusalem through event and experience. Course requirements will focus on developing advanced writing skills.

via Jerusalem: The Holy City

NOVA special on King Solomon’s Mines highlights Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon

Quest for Solomon's Mines NOVA

"Quest for Solomon's Mines" aired on NOVA.

The “Quest for Solomon’s Mines” aired on PBS November 23, 2010. It is viewable online. While the NOVA special examined the quest for King Solomon’s Mines, it actually did a good job of raising the issues surrounding the historicity (the actual existence and historical accuracy of the biblical account) of King Solomon. Among the items examined are the copper smelting mines located in Khirbat en-Nahas, the fortifications in Khirbat Qeiyafa, and the Qeiyafa Ostracon, which contains an inscription written in a proto-Canaanite alphabet.

UCLA's Dr. William Schniedewind with a replica of the Khirbat Qeyiafa Ostracon

UCLA's Dr. William Schniedewind with a replica of the Khirbat Qeiyafa Ostracon

The program highlights two of my favorite UC scholars, Dr. Thomas Levy of UC San Diego, and Dr. Bill Schniedewind of UCLA. Dr. Levy served as the show’s principal investigator, and Dr. Schniedewind discussed the importance of the Qeiyafa Ostracon. Drs. Israel Finkelstein and Eric Cline also make appearances, speaking to the relevance of the finds to the ongoing debate about the very existence of Solomon.

You can read an accompanying KPBS article here.

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