From our Open Houses to our showcases and student expos, when the Institute of Audio Research throws an event, we do it up right. Therefore, it was only fitting that when we hosted our first ever graduation ceremony for the Class of 2012, we went all out! On Saturday, June 30th, students, their families and our entire faculty gathered at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater to celebrate the hard work and dedication of IAR’s 43rd graduating class. It was a moment of great pride, not just for the students and their families, but also for the faculty and administration of this well-loved school. After years of training some of the best audio engineers in the business, we finally got together to celebrate, and boy oh boy did we celebrate!
The air inside the Apollo was thick with excitement as the first few bars of Sir Edgar Elgar’s timeless hit, Pomp & Circumstance, echoed through the hall. Right on cue, the not-so-somber procession of students, faculty and administration began marching down the aisles to take their places for the ceremony. Longtime IAR professor Dan Gaydos was Chief Marshall for the day, and as he approached the mic for the opening remarks, the crowd erupted in cheers. A few moments later, Professor Lisa Moyer played a heart wrenching rendition of The Star Spangled Banner on saxophone. From there began a succession of speeches and awards, each speaker or presenter brimming with pride. For the first time ever they were publicly able to express the deep regard that all of us, students, faculty and alumni alike, feel for this special school.
After rousing speeches from Class of 2012 Salutatorian Limia Mohammed and IAR President David Cohen, the crowd quieted down to listen closely as Keynote Speaker and legendary Bomb Squad producer Hank Shocklee took the stage. Shocklee’s message was clear: follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to take chances. This was a poignant message coming from a man whose music not only influenced everyone in attendance, but also helped to build a political and social movement that still resonates to this day. For that moment, everyone, from the young students getting ready to embark on their careers, to the faculty and teachers who have fought hard to achieve success, was able to reflect on the common dream that has led us all to IAR and beyond. At the end of his speech, Cohen returned to the podium and presented Shocklee with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other highlights from the ceremony included a lovely speech by IAR’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Iain Fraser, who pointed out that IAR was one of the many awesome things that came out of the sixties. Valedictorian James Gill spoke with humor about his experiences as an IAR student, and legendary producer/engineer and IAR professor Steve Eigner, along with IAR’s Director of Career Services, Ryan Schimmenti, rocked the house with a raucous cover of Paul Simon’s Kodachrome.
Another great moment came when longtime Director of Regulatory Affairs, Muriel Adler, received the Presidential Award for Distinguished Service. Muriel is an easily recognized face around the school, and after years of dedicated service, we were most happy to honor her. The Award for Excellence in Teaching went to IAR Professor Sean Corcoran, and Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Jonathan Avila, aka DJ Yonny, and Emmy award winning sound designer, voice over artist & radio DJ Jenna Emens. Later, IAR’s Board of Director’s Managing Director, Jeffrey Holder, gave a speech praising the accomplishments of the graduating class, and as a special tribute, several IAR employees who are past graduates of the school gathered on stage to take a commemorative photo. Then, in no time at all, it was time to hand out the diplomas.
It’s difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t attended IAR the extent of community and pride that IAR students and alumni feel towards this beloved institution. For many of us, IAR is a kind of haven, a place where we get to spend all of our time learning the craft of Audio Engineering. Recording and engineering music is our idea of fun, and having a school where we can extensively study this one subject for nine months is our idea of Shangri-La. This may sound a bit extreme, but believe me, if you ask the average IAR student what they do for fun, they will undoubtedly answer, “I’d rather be in the studio than anywhere else.” So, when President Cohen finally conferred the diplomas, and the crowd cheered and threw their caps into the air, it was easy to imagine the great things to come, not only from the young and eager students, but for this exceptional institution.